A 9-2 thrashing is one way to get the taste of a four-game losing streak out of your system.
That's what the Spokane Chiefs did Wednesday when the struggling Saskatoon Blades came to town for the two teams' only meeting of the season.
As if a 9-2 loss wasn't bad enough, the Blades' bus broke down just outside of Spokane en route to Kennewick:
Bus failure has us stuck an hour outside Spokane. We'll be crashing here until a new bus comes. Goodnight everyone!
— Saskatoon Blades (@BladesHockey) January 14, 2016
As for the game, it wasn't all that spectacular for a 9-2 game, as Spokane held only a 14-7 shot advantage after two periods. The Chiefs exploded for six goals on 16 shots in the third to pull away.
Kailer Yamamoto had four points (1g, 3a) and his center Hudson Elynuik finished with two goals and an assist. Curtis Miske chipped in a goal and two assists. Miske's goal came on a breakaway after he exited the penalty box.
It was the first WHL game for the Chiefs' Ty Smith, the top pick in last summer's Bantam Draft. Smith can play up to five games as a 15-year-old.
The defenseman seemed to be eased into things and finished with two assists. He made some minor mistakes and did some nice things. With some growth and experience, his future could be bright.
A few random thoughts:
- I don't know what the plan was with Smith, but I didn't notice him start any shifts in the first period in the defensive zone - they were offensive zone shifts as far as I could tell.
- That changed in the second and third periods, as Smith did start some shifts in the defensive zone. He got some power play time, but I don't recall seeing him out killing penalties (though I could be mistaken).
- The loss of Adam Helewka was tough for the organization and its fans, but here's a silver lining: it opened up an opportunity for 18-year-old Hudson Elynuik to get top-line minutes. He centered the top line with Kailer Yamamoto on his right and Dominic Zwerger on his left. His three-point night has to be a confidence boost.
- Elynuik came to Spokane as a 16-year-old in a trade two seasons ago and I remember there being some high hopes for his development. He's tall but kind of lanky, although he's beefed up a bunch from when he first arrived two seasons ago. He's had some injury issues but getting good minutes should boost his stock.
- With the dominating win and Smith's debut, it's easy to forget that the Chiefs played again without captain and top defenseman Jason Fram, who is listed as day-to-day. His presence on the blue line is needed big time, though 18-year-old Evan Fiala filled in nicely in Fram's absence alongside Tyson Helgesen.