Chiefs use power play to cool off Royals


The Spokane Chiefs won the battle of special teams Friday en route to a 5-3 Western Hockey League victory over the Victoria Royals.

The Chiefs, playing before 4,617 fans at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, scored three power-play goals and then added an empty-netter at 19:57 of the third period to seal the victory.

“Until tonight, we didn’t have any issues with our special teams,” said Victoria coach Dave Lowry. “The difference in tonight’s game was that we didn’t execute on the power play and they did.

“I thought that we had a great first period but they took it to us in the second. This is a tough building to win at. We were down 3-1 after 40 minutes but we got a goal early in the third period and battled hard. We had several power-play opportunities but we just couldn’t score.”

Spokane captain Brenden Kichton was the sparkplug for the Chiefs with a five-point performance. Kichton had two goals and three assists.

Mitch Holmberg added two goals for the Chiefs and both came on the power play. Holmberg now has seven goals in only four games for Spokane. Mike Aviani tallied the final Spokane marker into the empty net after the Royals pulled Patrik Polivka in favour of an extra attacker.

Jamie Crooks, on the power play, Austin Carroll and Brandon Magee countered for Victoria, which now has a 4-2 record. The Chiefs have a 3-1 mark.

“Every night in this league, it is a challenge to win hockey games,” said Lowry. “To be a good team, you have to be able to win games on the road.”

Earlier Friday, Polivka was named the Royals’ Player of the Month for September.

During his three starts in September, the 18-year-old native of Plzen, Czech Republic posted a 3-0 record. He had a 2.92 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage. Polivka was outstanding with a 23-save performance in a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in the Royals’ home opener on Sept. 22.

Polivka made 26 saves Friday while suffering his first loss of the season after collecting four wins.

“Patrik [Polivka] had a very good month for us,” said Royals general manager Cameron Hope. “He is getting more comfortable in the WHL and his skills are beginning to shine through.”

The Royals continue the four-game road trip tonight with a stop in Kennewick, Washington, against the Tri-City Americans. Victoria will then travel to Vancouver on Sunday.