LANGLEY, B.C. — The Spokane Chiefs could not recover from a sluggish start, falling to the top-seeded Vancouver Giants, 4-1 in Game 1 of the WHL Western Conference Championship on Friday night in Langley, B.C. Adam Beckman scored the Chiefs’ lone goal as Spokane lost on the road for the first time in the 2019 postseason.
Vancouver struck first, taking advantage of a power play to make it 1-0 just 6:25 into regulation as Lukas Svejkovsky potted his fourth of the playoffs. It was the 12th power play goal of the postseason for the Giants, tying them with Spokane for the most in the WHL.
The Giants scored again at 8:37, pouncing on a loose puck after a turnover in the Chiefs’ zone to make it 2-0. Dawson Holt came out of the scrum to chip it past goaltender Bailey Brkin for his third of the playoffs.
Spokane headed into the intermission down 2-0 on the scoreboard and down to 17 skaters after forward Luc Smith left the period early with an apparent injury.
“I mean it throws a wrench in things, for sure,” said head coach Dan Lambert of Smith’s absence, “but (injuries happen) often, especially this time of year.”
Vancouver extended their lead to 3-1 early in the second period as Owen Hardy, who assisted on the Giants’ second goal, finished a 2-on-1 chance just 57 seconds in. Holt earned the primary helper with a centering feed to the streaking Hardy.
“I think we just need to be better off the start,” said team co-captain Ty Smith after the game. “(We need) to get more pucks behind their (defense) and spend more time in their zone.”
Adam Beckman stemmed the tide and got the Chiefs on the board at 5:30 to make it 3-1. Spokane rimmed the puck around the boards behind Vancouver goalie David Tendeck. As Tendeck went to play the puck, it ricocheted off the end wall to a waiting Beckman. Tendeck nearly got his stick on it in a scrambling save effort, but the Chiefs rookie was able to put it in for his sixth of the playoffs, assisted by Ethan McIndoe and Jack Finley.
Spokane seemed to gain some life in the third period, but the Giants were up to the task, led by Tendeck’s 11 saves in the final 20 minutes.
“We know what we need to do,” added Smith. “I think we just need to refocus and execute the game plan better.”
“At the end of the day, it’s one game and one that we’re not very pleased with the way we played,” Lambert added. “Tomorrow’s a new game and we have to get to work.”
Spokane outshot Vancouver 31-30, finished 0-for-2 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The Chiefs and Giants will meet again for Game 2 in Langley on Saturday night. The game will begin at 7 p.m. with the radio broadcast on 103.5 FM The Game and 1510 AM KGA beginning at 6:30.
Spokane will host Game 3 and Game 4 at Spokane Arena on Tuesday, April 23 and Wednesday, April 24. Tickets for those games are available online, over the phone at 509-535-PUCK and in-person at the Chiefs’ Ticket Office at Spokane Arena.