Hockey is funny in that one night you can control much of the game and lose to a hot goaltender – like the Spokane Chiefs’ Friday night performance – and the next night you can come out hot, make it through some lapses, and still end up with the win.
The latter was the case Saturday night at the Arena, as the Chiefs started hot and held on for a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Goaltender Bailey Brkin, getting his second start in as many nights, made 28 saves in the win. Eli Zummack had a goal and an assist, while Ty Smith finished with two assists.
The outcome was positive, although head coach Dan Lambert had some things in mind for improvement.
“At the end of the day, it’s back-to-back games and we are young and we’re learning and we found a way to shut the door in the third period,” he said.
Lambert lamented the Chiefs giving the puck away one too many times. On the flip side, he pointed to Spokane’s special teams play as a highlight. The Chiefs scored once on three power-play chances and killed all five Edmonton power plays.
The Chiefs put 32 shots on Edmonton goaltender Dylan Myskiw. Half of them came in the second period.
But it was the first period when the Chiefs asserted themselves. Adam Beckman took a beautiful pass from defenseman Egor Arbuzov and skated in alone to put one past Myskiw at 3 minutes, 44 seconds of the first period.
Edmonton answered when Brett Kemp got behind the Spokane defense to tie the game at 11:37 of the first.
Jake McGrew sniped a one-timer past Myskiw on the power play late in the first period to give Spokane a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Trey Fix-Wolansky scored on a partial breakaway to tie the game at 7:20 of the second. The teams were skating 4-on-4 during Fix-Wolansky’s goal, giving him plenty of ice to operate.
Zummack scored the winner after taking a nice feed from Luke Toporowski, who protected the puck and skated behind the Edmonton net before sliding a pass to Zummack, who was set up in the slot.
The Chiefs withstood pressure from the Oil Kings throughout the third. But Brkin came up big, and made some key saves during an Edmonton power play with less than 4 minutes to play.
“I was just trying to control the play,” Brkin said. “I’d tell my D-men when I can see the puck and when I can’t. If I see the puck, we’re going to have a good time and I’ll make the stops.”
Brkin, who trains with the Oil Kings’ goalie coach in the summer, said he relies on his hockey smarts in tense situations like the third period.
“Hockey smarts is such a big thing for a goalie nowadays because it sets up how you play the game,” he said.
Brkin has split time in the young season with Dawson Weatherill.
“I thought (Friday) he gave us a chance to win the hockey game,” Lambert said of Brkin. “He did it again tonight. To me, we have two 19-year-old goalies for a reason and that’s because we believe in both of them to win games for us. Bailey’s been doing that.”
The Chiefs head out on their annual trek to the Eastern Conference for six games in eight days. They return home Oct. 26 when the Portland Winterhawks come to town.
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