Sometimes, the final score doesn’t tell the full story.
For the Spokane Chiefs, their 4-1 win over the visiting Portland Winterhawks Friday night masked some deficiencies that can hurt the team if it doesn’t fix them soon.
The Chiefs managed only 20 shots on net in a game in which Portland’s 16-year-old goaltender Dante Giannuzzi was making his first career appearance.
There were also the five penalties the Chiefs had to kill against one of the league’s top power-play teams. On the bright side, the Chiefs killed all five penalties and managed to score their first short-handed goal of the season.
The Chiefs also got Jaret Anderson-Dolan back from the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. Anderson-Dolan, who only got in two practices before the game, didn’t register a point.
Even with all the items to clean up, the win was a solid one against a good Portland team.
“I think a lot of our top-end players weren’t great,” head coach Dan Lambert said. “But our goalie played exceptionally well and made a lot of key saves at big times, and our special teams, our PK, was good and when we needed saves (goaltender Bailey Brkin) made them.”
Brkin stopped 36 shots, including 12 in the third period when the Winterhawks pressed. His save percentage was .933 coming into the game, a big improvement from last season.
“Since we acquired him at the deadline last year, I think he’s played well for us,” Lambert said. “This year is more of an extension of how he played for us last year and it’s great to see his game take another step.”
Brkin’s teammates helped him by getting out to a 3-0 lead.
Carter Chorney scored his fourth goal of the season at 13 minutes, 33 seconds of the first period to open the scoring. Chorney’s goal came shortly after he stepped out of the penalty box.
Eli Zummack scored Spokane’s short-handed goal a little more than a minute later. A Portland forward and a defenseman had a miscommunication in Spokane’s end and left the point open. Zummack picked up a loss puck at the vacated point and skated in on a partial breakaway before fooling Giannuzzi.
Adam Beckman scored a power-play goal at 13:57 of the second period. Beckman’s shot hit off of Giannuzzi’s glove and trickled into the net.
Portland got on the board 42 seconds into the third period when Joachim Blichfeld put one past Brkin. Nolan Reid scored at the 14:29 mark of the third to round out the scoring.
Spokane’s special teams impressed Lambert, though he’d prefer to take fewer penalties, especially against a team as good as Portland.
“Considering part of our game plan was to be very disciplined and not take any lazy penalties, I guess it’s fair to say we didn’t execute that part of the plan,” he said.
Despite not showing up on the score sheet, Anderson-Dolan was involved all over the ice and displayed his skills, showing those in attendance why he played five games in the NHL. He managed just one shot on net.
“I thought (Portland) did a great job of getting in lanes,” Anderson-Dolan said. “We had a lot of shots that they cut off and made good blocks, but I think we passed up quite a few shots. I think our D-men could have gotten more shots in and our forwards need to get to the net a little more.”
The adjustment back to junior hockey was evident for Anderson-Dolan.
“It’s a little bit slower,” Anderson-Dolan said of the junior hockey style of play. “(In the NHL) it’s the best players in the world. Coming back here is a little bit of an adjustment, but at the same time I try to be a leader and not get frustrated with everything that happens.”
The Chiefs welcome the Tri-City Americans to the Arena on Saturday . Puck drop is at 7:05.
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