Nobody can stop the Portland Winterhawks.
Portland, a team that hasn’t lost in regulation since Nov. 3, 2018, and is running away from the rest of the U.S. Division, handed Spokane its second straight loss, a 5-3 decision at the Arena Friday night.
Simon Knak had two goals and an assist in the win. Joel Hofer, the gold medal winner for Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, stopped 39 shots the Chiefs sent his way. Lukas Parik stopped 32 for Spokane.
Adam Beckman had a goal and an assist for the Chiefs. Beckman leads the team with 32 goals and matched his goal output from a season ago.
That the Chiefs put 42 shots on net against the top team in the league is a plus, but the mistakes were costly and resulted in Portland’s goals. Chiefs head coach Manny Viveiros wasn’t happy with the freelancing he saw from his team.
“I thought we played real excellent for the most part of the game, but we just didn’t have the discipline to do what we’re supposed to do and that cost us,” he said. “I’m really disappointed in a few of our players tonight in some situations, because we really didn’t have the discipline to stick with it. We have to stay with our game and not force it.”
The Chiefs were scoreless on seven power-play opportunities. Against a team like the Winterhawks, that’s a recipe for disaster.
“We were really stubborn. We have guys that are not doing what they’re supposed to do with our power-play concept,” Viveiros said. “They’re doing their own thing and it’s terrible.”
The Chiefs got off to a slow start and didn’t record their first shot on net until the 9:32 mark of the first. By then Knak had already made it 1-0 for Portland when he skated past the Chiefs’ defense and came in alone on Parik.
The Chiefs woke up after getting that first shot on net, and an Eli Zummack goal at 14:40 tied it.
The Chiefs were a better team in the second, outshooting Portland 13-9 and even took a 2-1 lead on Ty Smith’s sixth goal of the season. Smith was the trailer on a zone entry and took a nice feed from Beckman.
Tyson Kozak tied it for Portland at 16:53, setting up a crucial third period.
Portland struck early when Knak scored his second of the game 1:01 into the period. Lane Gilliss scored on the power play about 3 minutes later, putting Spokane in a deep hole.
Against a speedy team like the Winterhawks, that deficit is tough to overcome.
Beckman got Spokane within one at 16:54 when he poked one past Hofer. The puck rolled toward the net and Beckman and Hofer went to play it, but Beckman was there just in time.
Robbie Fromme-Delorme scored into an empty net to clinch the win.
The Chiefs had a great opportunity to claw back in the third period down 4-2 when they had a 5-on-3 power play for 59 seconds after Johnny Ludvic took a delay of game penalty. The Chiefs had their chances but couldn’t connect, and Portland killed both penalties.
“You really want to convert, but we got a couple good looks,” Beckman said. “We just have to work at it and it’ll come through at some point.”
Going up against Hofer didn’t help. Hofer was teammates with Smith at the World Juniors and stands 6-foot-5 in net. He’s also shifty in the butterfly position, making it difficult for teams to beat him.
“You have to give him credit, he made a lot of really good saves,” Beckman said. “We had over 40 shots on net and had him on his toes. We just couldn’t close it out.”
The Chiefs are back at the Arena on Saturday night to face the Regina Pats.
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