Chiefs snap Hitmen streak

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

Calgary Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson was looking for a way to reinforce the necessity of hard work.

The Spokane Chiefs provided it.

Despite a sub-par performance, the Hitmen were on the verge of running their home-ice winning streak to nine games, but goals by Mitch Wahl and Tyler Johnson 34 seconds apart with just over two minutes remaining made the difference in a 3-2 Spokane Chiefs victory at the Saddledome last night.

"It got away on us," Williamson said. "There was no reason we shouldn't have had more jump and more compete.

"We had some good young guys, but our top guys, top forwards, we need more from. They were good-to-average, at best. We need more out of guys. We need to find ways to call ourselves a hard-working hockey team, and right now we're not."

Maybe it was playing only two nights after skating -- and losing -- in Brandon, followed by a long bus ride home until the wee hours Saturday morning.

Maybe it was the disappointment of seeing the Calgary Stampeders season go up in smoke just before puck drop.

Whatever the cause, the Hitmen were sluggish for much of the opening period and parts of the final frame, and it cost them.

Just when it appeared Calgary would claim yet another victory at the Saddledome, Wahl -- a Calgary Flames prospect -- tied the affair. While the hosts were trying to regroup, Johnson completed a pretty three-way passing play with Kyle Beach and Levko Koper to stun the Hitmen and their faithful.

For good measure, Johnson blocked Joel Broda's last-second attempt to tie the game, to the delight of Chiefs netminder James Reid, who hails from Calgary.

"I gave him a big hug and kiss for that," Reid said with a big grin after the game. "He was my hero tonight."

The Hitmen have lost two straight for just the second time this season to fall to 19-7.

The Chiefs improved to 14-8-1.

The Chiefs had an enjoyable bus ride home, while Calgary had a long meeting after the contest.

"There was a while in the second (the effort) was there and parts of the third but not for 60 minutes by any means," Williamson said. "That was one of the things we talked about going into the game. We're not good enough to just put our sticks on the ice and win. We showed that."

Beach opened the scoring late in the first period, first beating Hitmen defenceman Austin Madaisky on a one-on-one before lifting a shot past goalie Martin Jones.

However, Calgary's Kris Foucault tied the game late in the opening period while on a five-on-three powerplay.

Broda scored Calgary's second powerplay goal of the night before the midway point of the third period, but the Hitmen couldn't hang on.

Broda shot down any theory of fatigue entering the fray.

"Those guys played three games in three nights, so I don't think it's a case of one team being more tired than the other," Broda said. "If anything, they were more tired than we are. We have to make sure our intensity is up the whole time."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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