By Yoos, Cam on February 20, 2020.
On country music night the Lethbridge Hurricanes were unable to ride off into the sunset with a pair of points.
Instead, it was the Spokane Chiefs who rode tall in the saddle courtesy a 6-3 win in Western Hockey League play Wednesday night at the Enmax Centre, led by leading WHL gunslinger Adam Beckman’s five points.
The Canes cut the Chiefs’ lead to 3-2 after 40 minutes of play on a goal from Zack Stringer, but there were no sad, twangy tales of leads lost for the visitors as Spokane netted a pair of goals early in the third to grab a commanding 5-2 lead.
The loss is the Canes’ third in a row that drops them to 34-15-2-5, while the Chiefs rustle up a post-season berth with the win that improves them to 33-18-4-1.
The Hurricanes fired back to make it interesting on Brett Davis’ 20th of the season 4:03 into the third that made it 5-3, but Beckman added his 43rd of the season into an empty net to send the announced crowd of 4,032 heading to exits. He now has 97 points in 55 games.
The leading scorer finished with two goals and three assists, while Canes captain Dylan Cozens was minus-five with seven shots on goal and Oliver Okuliar was held pointless and went minus-three with three shots on goal.
“They’re a well-coached team and they made a good adjustment for our neutral zone,” said Hurricanes head coach Brent Kisio. “Manny (Viveiros, Chiefs head coach) does a great job. Their top guys were better than our top guys. I don’t think there’s really much to talk about. They had a lot of guys that played really well. But if you look at the stats sheet it’s pretty obvious how well their top guys played compared to ours.”
The Chiefs got the first power play and the first goal as Bear Hughes finished off a rebound in front of Canes goaltender Carl Tetachuk for a 1-0 lead 8:54 into the first.
The Hurricanes nearly answered less than a minute later when Okuliar took a feed from Cozens, but rocketed it off the crossbar.
Spokane added to their lead with 7:24 to go in the first when Beckman fed Jack Finley for a tap-in one-timer and a 2-0 lead.
The Chiefs nearly went up 3-0 late in the first period, but Tetachuk was able to close the pads on a breakaway chance on Luke Toporowski to keep it a two-goal game.
Toporowski didn’t miss on his next chance early in the second, busting in with Leif Mattson and putting home his 21st of the season at the 6:55 mark.
The Hurricanes got their first power play of the game late in the second and like the Chiefs did on their first-period man advantage, got on the board as Logan Barlage tipped a shot by Alex Cotton past Spokane goaltender Lukas Parik.
The Hurricanes outshot the Chiefs 23-6 in the middle period.
“I thought we played a good second,” said Kiso. “I thought we played well with how we competed. We worked hard and we could have easily had it tied up. When we skate, we’re a good hockey team and when we stand and watch we’re in trouble.”
Lethbridge cut Spokane’s lead to one with 10 seconds left in the second when Zack Stringer walked in off the left circle and lifted a backhand past Chief’s goaltender Lukas Parik to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes.
“We came out flying in the second,” said Stringer. “We had a little talk in the room and we needed to get going. The third happened and we didn’t come out flying as much we wanted to.”
Beckman and Toporowski scored 3:45 into the third for a three-goal that wasn’t threatened the rest of the way despite Davis’ quick response after.
“We win a draw, we get the puck in, we just fall asleep and don’t have good gaps,” said Kisio.
Beckman added his empty-netter with 2:26 to go.
“We play a lot of good hockey players and he’s a very good hockey player,” said Kisio of the league’s top scorer.” He’s got those points for a reason. We knew about him, we just didn’t do our job about him.”
The Hurricanes outshot the Chiefs 44-28.
“They’re a high-skilled team, but at the same time we have to have a better start to periods,” said Stringer. “We just need to be ready for a full 60.”
Tetachuk made 22 saves, while Parik stopped 41.
The Canes power play was one-for-three. The Chiefs were one-for-two.
The Hurricanes return to the Enmax Centre Friday night when the Moose Jaw Warriors pay a visit at 7 p.m.
NOTES – Hurricanes forward Noah Boyko remains out with an upper body injury with no timeline yet on his return. Davis was honoured pre-game for his 300th career game, having hit the milestone last weekend. The Kelowna Rockets announced Wednesday they had released head coach Adam Foote from his. Assistant coach Kris Mallette has been named Kelowna’s interim head coach.
This year’s host of the Memorial Cup, the Rockets are 24-26-2-2 this season and hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. They are 3-6-1-0 in their last 10 games.