After a dreadful start to its Eastern Conference road swing, the Spokane Chiefs turned the tables, won a few games and now (finally) come home with some positive momentum.
Spokane beat Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Prince Albert before falling in overtime to Swift Current to end the trip. All told, the Chiefs were 3-2-0-1 on the trip. After losing the first three games, it was a welcomed result to grab seven of eight possible points over the last four games.
Newcomer Tanner Wishnowski has proven his value after being traded from Kelowna. He already has 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games for the Chiefs. He had four points in four games last week. To put those numbers in perspective, Wishnowski only had 2 points in 10 games with Kelowna before being traded.
Now the Chiefs move back into divisional play, with a big matchup against arch rival Tri-City looming on Saturday.
Here's a recap of the week....
Chiefs roll past Moose Jaw
After a slow start, Spokane got their legs and poured on the scoring in the second on the way to a 6-2 win over Moose Jaw.
Jeff Faith got the ball rolling with his first of the season and the Chiefs never stopped, potting three goals in the first 3:25 of the second period to take a 3-1 lead. Hudson Elynuik (2) and Kailer Yamamoto (8) also scored in the period. Moose Jaw answered only 14 seconds after Yamamoto's goal, making it 3-2.
But from there the Chiefs rolled on, getting goals from Keanu Yamamoto (3) and Wishnowski (2) in the first 1:27 of the third period. Elynuik (3) added a power play marker midway through the period for the final margin.
Jayden Sittler had a much-needed solid outing in goal, stopping 19 of 21 shots.
Déjà vu Wednesday as Chiefs win 6-2 again
Trent Huitema scored his first career WHL goal and Spokane ran out to a 5-1 lead en route to another 6-2 victory, this one over Saskatoon on Wednesday.
Ethan McIndoe (2) got things going with a power play goal midway through the first period, but that was the only marker of the period despite many chances for the Chiefs. Huitema and Kailer Yamamoto scored in the second to break the game open.
Also, Spokane put the game away with a pair of early third period goals, another feat they accomplished the night prior. Yamamoto potted his second of the game and, not to be upstaged by Huitema, Riley McKay added his first career WHL goal. Pavel Kousal's third goal of the season ended the scoring.
Dawson Weatherill stopped 28 shots to earn the win. Both Weatherill and Sittler were great on the back end of the road trip, a big boost for a Spokane team desperately in need of some solid goaltending in the coming months.
Familiar formula lifts Chiefs past Raiders
Slow start, break out in the second period, play solid enough in the third to hold on for a win. The Chiefs seem to have found a formula for success against the Eastern Conference.
Spokane scored three times in the second and held Prince Albert to just 24 shots in a 4-2 win on Friday. Ethan McIndoe, Jeff Faith and Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored in the decisive second period to help build a 3-0 lead.
Prince Albert attempted a comeback in the third, but that was shut down rather quickly. Calvin Leth potted his first of the season for the Raiders to make it 3-1 midway through the period, but Elynuik responded only 14 seconds later to regain a 3-goal advantage.
Raider starting goalie Ian Scott wasn't very effective, and was pulled midway through the second period for backup Nick Sanders. Spokane players and fans will remember Sanders, as he played for rival Tri-City last season and part of this season before getting traded to Prince Albert. Sanders had 10 saves in relief duty. Sittler had 22 saves for Spokane.
Trip ends with overtime loss
The Chiefs wrapped up a string of 7-games-in-12-days with a 3-2 overtime loss at Swift Current.
The teams traded goals throughout, with Swift Current taking a 1-0 lead before Evan Fiala ripped home his first of the season for Spokane. After the Broncos took the lead with 9 seconds left in the first period, each team was scoreless until midway through the third. That's when Tanner Wishnowski added his second goal as Chief to tie the score and provide the Chiefs another point.
Tyler Steenbergen knotted his 10th goal of the season during the 3-on-3 overtime period, beating Dawson Weatherill with 30 seconds left in the extra period.
Despite the loss, the 600-mile trip home from Swift Current had to be a positive one. The Chiefs grabbed seven of possible eight points last week and drew closer in the standings.
UPDATE: Yamamoto named WHL Player of the Week
Kailer Yamamoto was named WHL Player of the Week on Monday for his performance in four Chiefs games last week. Yamamoto had 3 goals and four assists in four games during the week. He leads Spokane in scoring and is third in the league with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in just 15 games.
Smith, Morrisseau attending U-17s
Rookies Ty Smith and Koby Morrisseau were selected to represent Canada in the U17 Hockey Challenge. Both players missed games on the road trip but are expected to return this week.
Spokane gets some much-needed rest this week before hosting Red Deer (8-5-1-1, 2nd in Central Division) on Friday. The Chiefs then host Tri-City (9-6-1-0, 2nd in U.S. Division) in the first meeting between the archrivals since Spokane's home opener.
Markson Bechtold (upper body, week-to-week), Hayden Ostir (upper body, day-to-day) and Jake Toporowski (lower body, day-to-day) are the only names on the injury report for the week, however Ostir did play on the road trip. The return of Bechtold or Toporowski would be a key addition as Spokane faces a number of divisional games.