Six goals should win you most hockey games. But when you continue to take undisciplined penalties, surrender 53 shots on net and play extended shifts in your own end, those six goals might not be enough.
That’s exactly the situation the Spokane Chiefs were in Sunday evening, as they fell to the Portland Winterhawks in an old-school, 1980s throwback 8-6 result.
The Chiefs gave up four power-play goals and took 11 penalties altogether against one of the Western Hockey League’s top power-play teams.
A night after head coach Dan Lambert lamented his team’s undisciplined play, the Chiefs continued the same script, leading to a longer-than-usual postgame talk from the coach.
“It’s not just a little frustrating, it’s extremely frustrating,” he said.
The signs of a wild, back-and-forth game were evident from the drop of the puck. The teams combined for six goals in the first period and Portland put 23 shots on net in the first 20 minutes.
It was the Chiefs who got things going, however. Riley Woods scored off a rebound at 3:18 to give Spokane an early lead. Goals by Portland’s Jake Gricius and Lane Gilliss before the period was half over helped Portland take a 2-1 lead.
Spokane’s Adam Beckman then batted a loose puck out of midair at the side of the net at 12:19 to tie the game. Ethan McIndoe gave Spokane the lead at 13:56 after the puck squirted through the legs of Portland goaltender Shane Farkas.
Then Portland’s Jaydon Dureau scored on a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway.
That was just the first period. The Chiefs couldn’t settle down after that.
“You settle down when you do things the right way,” Lambert said. “You chip pucks out when you’re in trouble or when you’re at the blue line and you go into the offensive end and chip pucks behind their defense and you work down low. We’re not doing that at all.”
The second period was only slightly less entertaining. Luke Toporowski scored on a wraparound and just 29 seconds later, Woods scored his second of the game, forcing Portland to pull Farkas and insert backup Dante Giannuzzi.
Gricius scored his second of the game for Portland’s lone score in the second.
The Chiefs took a 5-4 lead into the third period but surrendered four goals in the final frame. Joachim Blichfeld scored a little more than four minutes into the period before Nolan Reid helped Spokane retake the lead at 5:41.
But then it was all Portland. Ryan Hughes and Reece Newkirk scored power-play goals, with Newkirk’s being the game-winner. McIndoe was in the box on Hughes’ goal after going out of his way to confront a Portland defender who leveled a massive hit on Jake McGrew. Toporowski was in the box for Newkirk’s game-winner after taking an interference penalty.
“We have to stay disciplined. Coach has been saying it the past two games,” Woods said. “(Portland) has a good power play and they capitalized on them.”
Blichfeld scored his second goal of the game into an empty net. That goal didn’t come without controversy, though, as the puck looked to have hit the protective netting in Portland’s end. Everybody on the ice stopped playing before realizing the whistle hadn’t blown.
Spokane’s top line of McIndoe, Woods and McGrew combined for three goals and 10 points. Lambert wasn’t about to praise anybody, though.
“I saw us lose as a team tonight and I saw us take a lot of stupid penalties that hurt our team,” he said.
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