Spokane Chiefs dig deep hole, fall to Prince George 7-4 in Game 2

Mar. 30—From staff reports

PRINCE GEORGE, British Columbia — The Spokane Chiefs won twice as many regular-season games as they did last year and qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

But if they are to extend their season to the second round, the eighth-seeded Chiefs will have to dig themselves out of a deep hole.

At least they'll have a chance to do that with the next three games at home.

Prince George built a six-goal lead and withstood the Chiefs' comeback attempt to win 7-4 in Game 2 of a Western Hockey League first-round series at CN Centre on Saturday. Seven players scored for the Cougars, who took a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is scheduled for Tuesday at the Arena. Game 4 is Wednesday and Game 5, if necessary, is Friday.

Top-seeded Prince George finished the regular season with 102 points and haven't lost in regulation since Feb. 2, a point streak of 20 games.

After a defensive-minded first period — resulting in seven shots on goal by each team — the key sequence in the game came in the latter stages of the second period. Prince George scored three goals in 1:13 as Aiden Foster, Carlin Dezainde and Viliam Kmec all scored their first goals of the playoffs.

The Chiefs got goals by Owen Martin and Hayden Paupanekis early in the penalty-filled third period and Layton Feist's goal with 5:42 left made it a three-goal game.

The Chiefs pulled their goalie with 2:55 to go and Feist found the net again off a deflection with 1:10 left to make it 6-4. But PG answered with an empty net goal with 34 seconds left to secure the victory.

Chiefs starting goalie Dawson Cowan surrendered six goals on 16 shots and was replaced by Cooper Michaluk late in the second period.

Unlike Game 1, Prince George registered the game's first goal. The Cougars held the puck on an extended offensive possession until it was deflected into the left-wing circle, where defenseman Keaton Dowhaniuk blasted a slap shot through a crowd and past Chiefs goalie Dawson Cowan for his second goal of the series at 9:36 of the first.

Moments later, Conner Roulette's equalizing attempt was swallowed by PG goalie Joshua Ravensbergen from a seated position.

Early in the second, a turnover in the neutral zone led to a Prince George two-on-none and Oren Shtrom knocked in Matteo Danis' pass into a wide-open net for his first of the series and a 2-0 lead.

Moments later a puck trickled through Cowan and sat tantalizingly in the paint but the Chiefs netminder was able to locate and cover it before further damage could be done.

Paupanekis was called for boarding and Prince George cashed in on the power play, as Ondrej Becher's slapshot from the right circle beat Cowan for his second goal of the series and a 3-0 lead midway through the second.

Prince George blew the game open with three goals in 1:13.

The Cougars made it 4-0 as a turnover behind the net by Cowan found Foster in the slot for an easy goal, his first of the playoffs, at 14:24 of the period. PG added another goal a minute later on a rebound conversion by Dezainde and 12 seconds after Kmec tallied to make it 6-0.

Six goals on 16 shots prompted Chiefs coach Ryan Smith to lift Cowan in favor of Cooper Michaluk.

The Chiefs finally got on the board early in the third when Martin redirected a Will McIsaac shot from the point past Ravensbergen just 58 second into the period.

Paupanekis redirected a Martin shot for a power play goal at 8:34 of the third to make it a four-goal game.