There are plenty of reasons the Spokane Chiefs own the best record in the Western Hockey League, and they put them all on display during...
There are plenty of reasons the Spokane Chiefs own the best record in the Western Hockey League, and they put them all on display during a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday night at KeyArena.
The Chiefs improved their gaudy record to 13-2-1 with a dominating victory illustrated more by a 40-16 advantage in shots than by the two-goal advantage on the scoreboard.
Spokane was led by the dominating line of Drayson Bowman, Chris Bruton and Mitch Wahl that continually skated through the depleted Seattle defense.
Bruton had two goals, Bowman had the winning goal and three assists, and Wahl had a goal and three assists as the trio wore a path to the front of the Seattle net.
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“Tonight that line was the best on the ice by a long ways, and they had consistent pressure and offensive chances,” Spokane coach Bill Peters said. “They had at least 10 legitimate scoring chances.”
In fact, it was only inspired play by goaltender Riku Helenius in the second period that kept the T-birds close in a period where Spokane outshot Seattle 16-2.
“Those three were just deadly all night,” Seattle coach Rob Sumner said of Spokane’s top line. “Their team played better than us tonight, but those three were clearly the best players on the ice.”
The T-birds (7-5-2) played with only five defensemen with Scott Jackson out with a high ankle sprain and Jeremy Schappert out after shoulder surgery. Sumner moved several forwards to defense at times on special teams, but the T-birds were unable to slow down a Spokane team that won for the ninth time in its past 10 games.
Spokane, which was ousted in the first round of the playoffs last season by Everett, scored three power-play goals on six chances and continually kept the Thunderbirds in their own end of the ice.
Jeremy Boyer tied the score at 3 for Seattle at 10:19 of the third period. The tie lasted just more than a minute before Bowman gave the Chiefs the lead back with a five-on-three power-play goal.
CHIEFS 5, THUNDERBIRDS 3
First — 1, Seattle, O’Brien 3 (McKenzie, Rai), :55. 2, Spokane, Wahl 5 (Blackwater, Bowman), 9:07 (pp). 3, Spokane, Bruton 8 (Bowman, Wahl), 11:35 (pp). 4, Seattle, Nielsen 3 (Scott, Holloway) 19:38 (pp). Second — 5, Spokane, Bruton 9 (Bowman, Wahl), 5:21. Third — 6, Seattle, Boyer 7 (Scott, Olson), 10:19. 7, Spokane, Bowman 11 (Roman, Blackwater), 11:33 (pp). 8, Spokane, Ulmer 1 (Wahl), 16:18. Shots on goal — Spokane 12-16-12 — 40. Seattle 7-2-7 — 16. Power plays — Spokane 3-6; Seattle 1-5. Goalies — Spokane, Tokarski 6-1-0-0 (16 shots-13 saves). Seattle, Helenius 5-4-0-1 (40-35). A — 2,439.