Victoria, B.C. – The Spokane Chiefs got their season off to a hot start as they skated to a 7-5 victory Friday night against the Victoria Royals.
It was Kooper Gizowski who scored Spokane’s first goal of the 2022-23 season, and he didn’t hesitate. The power play goal came just under five minutes into the first period, with Saige Weinstein and Carter Streek earning assists on the play.
The Royals answered about halfway through the frame to tie things up, but it didn’t last long. Rookie Berkly Catton fed the puck all the way down the ice to Chase Bertholet on the breakaway, who pushed it across the slot to Ty Cheveldayoff who chipped it over Tyler Palmer’s glove and into the net. It was Cheveldayoff’s first of three points in the game.
Spokane tacked on another goal at 16:13 in the first as Raegan Wiles potted his first of the season with. help from Gizowski and Cheveldayoff.
The Chiefs got straight to business in the second period, capitalizing on a blocked shot by Saige Weinstein that led the puck to Cheveldayoff’s stick. Cheveldayoff pushed it to Brayden Crampton, who connected with Bertholet as he raced up the right wing and tucked the puck behind the leg of Palmer and across the line for Spokane’s fourth goal of the game.
Victoria cut the lead to two with a goal from Carter Dereniwsky at 8:05 in the second, but the Chiefs closed the frame with two goals of their own – first from 20-year-old defenseman Mac Gross (assists: Blake Swetlikoff, Cade Hayes) at 11:49 and then from Italian-born forward Tommaso De Luca (assists: Gizowski, Jake Gudelj) at 16:25.
It was De Luca’s first career WHL goal and his first career WHL game. It put the Chiefs ahead 6-2 heading into the final frame.
The Royals controlled the beginning of the third period, as Reggie Newman scored his second of the night followed by a goal from Marcus Almquist at 13:04.
Gross then fired a puck all the way down the ice and into the waiting empty net at 18:04 to give Spokane their seventh goal of the game.
Almquist tacked on one more goal with 55 seconds left to play, but it was as close as the Royals would get as Spokane sealed the 7-5 victory in their season opener.
Rookie Cooper Michaluk stopped 33-of-28 shots, while Palmer turned aside 22-of-28 Spokane shots.
The Chiefs went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill. Spokane earned two star honors Friday: Cheveldayoff (first; 1G-2A) and Bertholet (third; 1G-1A).
Up next, the Chiefs and Royals will have a rematch in Victoria Saturday night at 6:05 p.m.
The Chiefs’ 2022-23 regular season will begin on Friday, September 23 as they visit the Victoria Royals before hosting the Kamloops Blazers in their home opener at Spokane Arena on Saturday, October 1. Ticket packages for the 2022-23 season are available now! For more information, visit spokanechiefs.com or call a ticket account executive at 509-535-PUCK.
The Spokane Chiefs are a member of the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey league, the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players. Since 1985 the Chiefs have been a pillar in the Spokane community, offering family-friendly entertainment and a winning tradition which includes: two Memorial Cup Championships in 1991 & 2008, two WHL Championships in 1991 & 2008 and four Western Conference Championships in 1991, 1996, 2000 & 2008. Over 60 alumni have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.