(Kent, WA) – Down three key defensemen and its number one goalie, the Spokane Chiefs went into Kent Tuesday night and eked out a 4-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.
With Ty Smith and goalie Lukas Parik away trying to make the Canadian and Czech Republic rosters respectively for the IIHF U20 World Junior Championships and blue liners Filip Kral and Bobby Russell out with ailments, the Chiefs leaned on their skilled forwards and a depleted defensive corps to score three straight goals en route to the tight road win.
Adam Beckman had two goals and an assist to lead the way offensively, while Bear Hughes chipped in with two assists. Noah King, Graham Sward, Matt Leduc, Jordan Chudley and Raegan Wiles held things down on the blue line.
“Those kids came in not used to that amount of ice time,” said Spokane head coach Manny Viveiros. “They came in and did a real good job in a tough place to play.
“Our forwards helped the defense quite a bit, too. They weren’t isolated in their on zone. Really happy with the kids. They really stepped up. When you are missing Ty Smith, Bobby Russell and Filip Kral, that is a big part of your team.”
Campbell Arnold picked up his eighth win this season for the Chiefs (17-9-3-0) as he turned away 19 of 21 shots.
“He’s been a really pleasant surprise for a 17-year-old goalie,” Viveiros said. “He has taken a lot of strides his first year in the league. We’ve thrown him into the fire so to speak. But he’s always responded for us.”
For Seattle, now 9-16-2-1, rookie center Matthew Rempe had a goal and an assist – his first multi-point game. Goalie Roddy Ross gave his team a chance to win with 27 stops on 30 shots.
Rempe helped set up the game’s opening goal 7:29 in. He won a faceoff in the Spokane zone and Luke Bateman pushed the puck back to Tyrel Bauer for a blast. The goal was Bauer’s second of the season.
Spokane tied the game on the power play just over three minutes later. Hughes found a seam and wired a pass to Beckman, who buried his 15th of the season.
The Chiefs power play would see ample opportunities in the second period.
After a minor penalty on Conner Bruggen-Cate, Bauer was whistled for a double minor for slew footing. Once Bruggen-Cate’s penalty was killed successfully, Hughes found another opening and fed Eli Zummack with a nice cross-ice pass. His shot eluded Ross, giving the Chiefs their first lead at 2-1.
“With two guys like that,” Hughes said of Zummack and Beckman, “they can really shoot the puck. I just want to get them the puck and put it somewhere they can bury it. Often times they will.”
Spokane went 2-for-7 on the power play and Seattle was 1-of-4.
With only 26 seconds left in the middle frame, Leduc’s shot was redirected by Michael King and past Ross. Zummack provided a screen in front.
Leif Mattson set up the play and recorded his first point with Spokane after being acquired from the Kelowna Rockets for a fourth round pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
“He certainly is a smart hockey player,” Viveiros said of his team’s new overage forward. “He knows where to be on the ice and he’s physically a strong kid as well.
“He sees the ice well too. He makes a lot of really nice subtle lays that are hard to notice on the power play that make a big difference for us.”
Seattle tallied a power-play goal of their own to draw within one at 6:04 of the third period. Owen Williams’ shot from the point deflected off Matthew Rempe and trickled by Arnold.
The Thunderbirds had another power-play opportunity with 3:31 left and even pulled Ross for a 6-on-4 advantage for part of that power play. Arnold and the Chiefs held tight though.
Beckman put his second of the night into that empty net for the 4-2 final.
The win was the fifth in a row for Spokane. They now head home then return to Kent for a rematch with the Thunderbirds Saturday evening. Before that game, Seattle hosts the Tri-City Americans Friday.
The Chiefs are now 3-0 vs the Thunderbirds in their seven game season series.