Ty Smith knows how to celebrate a reunion, while at the same time introducing himself to his own head coach.
One day after reuniting with his Spokane Chiefs teammates from the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and meeting head coach Manny Viveiros for the first time in person, the 19-year-old defenseman wasted no time making his presence felt.
Smith scored two goals, including one on his second shift of the night, in Spokane’s 5-1 Western Hockey League win over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Smith also added an assist.
Rookie Campbell Arnold made 30 saves in the win. Jake McGrew added two goals , and Eli Zummack and Adam Beckman had two assists apiece.
The Chiefs played the way Viveiros wanted them to play on offense after last week’s shutout loss in the team’s home opener.
“We challenged the kids this week and said we’re going to go to the dirty areas, and that’s what we did,” Viveiros said.
Smith admitted to being disappointed that he was playing junior hockey and not in the NHL. But as a veteran leader, he knew he had to move past it and focus on this season in Spokane.
“Since the season ended last year my whole focus was playing with New Jersey, I hadn’t even thought about Spokane,” he said. “It’s tough at first, but after a couple hours being mad you kind of have to get your head wrapped around the fact that you’re coming back. We have a great group here that can possibly make a run with great coaches and great management. That excites me, and I have some great buddies here that I get to come back and play with.”
Viveiros is happy to have possibly the best defenseman in the entire Canadian Hockey League on his roster. But more important, he’s impressed with the way Smith has handled the situation.
“He’s a kid you don’t worry about,” Viveiros said. “He has a very good head on his shoulders and obviously he’s disappointed to be back here, but look at the big picture. It’s just part of the steps in his development.”
Smith made some noise just 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game when he sent a shot from the point past Seattle goaltender Blake Lyda.
McGrew got his first goal on the power play at 7:37 of the first. McGrew took an Eli Zummack pass in front of Lyda and slid it in – going to the dirty area, as his coach wanted.
Just 16 seconds after McGrew’s power-play goal, Luke Toporowski made it 3-0 on a shot from the slot.
Seattle got its lone goal at 11:05 of the first when Keltie Jeri-Leon poked a puck in during a net mouth scramble.
Smith got his second goal of the game at 3:45 of the second, and McGrew got another power-play goal at 11:46 of the second. Smith kept the puck in the zone and slid a no-look pass across the ice along the blue line to Zummack, who then made a nice pass to McGrew at the side of the net for the easy goal.
Smith’s fancy pass made the entire play happen.
“I just know where Zummy is. We have a pretty good connection,” Smith said. “He’s a smart player and knows he has to come up high and support there with pressure on the blue line. I just spun around and took a look before and knew he’d be there. It’s just knowing where to put (the puck).”
Arnold got his first career win and was tested all night, despite being up four goals in the third period.
“He was outstanding. He was really good,” Viveiros said of Arnold. “He’s been excellent since training camp. As I’ve said before, we have two really good goalies and it’s a luxury. Campbell puts in the work in practice and is the hardest worker on the ice at times and he’s reaping the benefits.”
The Chiefs are at Tri-City on Saturday and return home Sunday to host the Everett Silvertips. Given the schedule, Viveiros said Lukas Parik will start in net at Tri-City.
The Chiefs scored on two of their four power-play opportunities and killed all five penalties. The penalty kill was stout, but Viveiros would prefer his team take fewer penalties.
“Special teams were a difference, but we don’t want to be taking penalties,” he said. “We’re taking some unnecessary penalties and the top teams take the least amount of penalties. It’s a teaching moment and it’s all about discipline. A lot of those penalties were 200 feet from the net and we can’t let that happen. We’ll correct it and address it and going forward, hopefully it won’t be an issue.”
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