The Spokane Chiefs’ five-game losing streak is no more.
Thanks to a balanced scoring attack and an aggressive offensive performance, the Chiefs got one back in the winning column with a dominating 7-2 win over the Portland Winterhawks Wednesday at the Arena.
After outshooting their opponents in each of the five losses during the streak, the Chiefs were finally rewarded for their effort. They put 47 shots on Portland goaltenders Joel Hofer and Shane Farkas, while Spokane’s Bailey Brkin turned aside 19 Portland shots in the win.
Riley Woods topped all scorers with a goal and four assists. Luc Smith scored two goals and Jaret Anderson-Dolan finished with a goal and two assists.
The win was a relief for the Chiefs.
“It’s funny, when you’re going through one of those streaks sometimes you think you’ll never get out of it, but we did,” Chiefs head coach Dan Lambert said.
The first period wasn’t an indication of things to come, as the teams skated to a 1-all tie after a goal by Woods and a Portland goal by Josh Paterson. But the floodgates were wide open in the second and third periods.
Smith got his first goal on the power play at 11 minutes, 33 seconds of the second after a nifty passing sequence in Portland’s end. Smith took a cross-ice pass in front of the net from Woods and buried it.
Anderson-Dolan sniped a wrist shot past Hofer on the power play at 18:45 of the second. Smith got his second of the night with 13 seconds left in the period to give Spokane a 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
The Chiefs put 32 shots on net in the first two periods, but as they learned during their five-game losing streak, that doesn’t always lead to wins.
“Our biggest focus was getting guys in front of the net, making it hard on their goalie,” Woods said. “That’s one of the things we really keyed in on this week and we found the back of the net.”
Six players found the back of the net, with Jake McGrew, Ethan McIndoe and Jack Finley all scoring in the third period. Farkas replaced Hofer after the McIndoe goal.
Portland’s Lane Gilliss scored a goal at 18:22 of the third to round out the scoring.
The Winterhawks were playing without Cody Glass, who is out with a knee injury.
Connor Gabruch got an assist on McIndoe’s third-period goal. It was Gabruch’s first career point. He nearly had his first career goal in the first period, but Hofer stoned him with the pad.
“This is a hard league and Connor’s had his growing pains, but we certainly feel like his game has gotten better,” Lambert said. “Since Christmas, his work ethic has gotten better and I think you’re starting to see some of that skill level that he has.”
The game got interesting late, and it had nothing to do with Spokane’s offense.
It all started when Anderson-Dolan and John Ludvig got tied up in front of the Spokane bench. After a few hacks and whacks back and forth, Ludvig started swinging at Luc Smith, who was on the Spokane bench. Smith fought back and had to be held back from jumping onto the ice by his teammates and coaches.
After another minor scrum broke out, the officials sorted through the penalties. Ludvig, Anderson-Dolan and Smith all got penalties, and Portland’s Reece Newkirk was ejected. A Portland trainer then threw a glove on the ice in the direction of the officials and was ejected. The glove was seemingly intended for a Portland player already in the box.
The teams still have a chance to meet in the first round of the playoffs. Portland took the first-round series last season in seven games.
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