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Spokane Chiefs scored three unanswered goals in come-from-behind victory

Rockets drop heartbreaker

Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the opposition goaltender and move on.

Spokane netminder Cooper Michaluk was spectacular Tuesday night leading his Spokane Chiefs to a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Kelowna Rockets.

"Sometimes it just doesn't go you way. I think we probably hit half a dozen posts or cross bars but credit to their goalie, he made saves and he made a lot of them, and killed a lot of our momentum offensively." said Rockets head coach Kris Mallette.

"We had opportunities to put this game away.

Michaluk turned away 40 of the 42 shots he faced including 28 over the final 40 minutes when the game was still very much in doubt.

Mallette agreed if the team plays this way offensively the rest of the way they'll win far more than they lose.

But, it's defensively where work still needs to be done.

"A couple of overaggressive plays probably led to some chances. Obviously the big one at the end a a few earlier.

"Just some ill-advised decisions. You learn this at a young age that, as a defenceman, you can't dive in on a play unless you have coverage or as forward that's high.

"That's a young group on the back end. They get excited at times and it ultimately cost us."

Kelowna got on the board first

The Rockets led 2-1 after the opening 20 minutes.

Andrew Cristall with his 31st of the year and 100th in the WHL opened the scoring on the power play, but a breakdown on a later man advantage led to Spokane's tying goal.

Conner Roulette beat Jari Kykkanen from the slot on an odd-man rush to draw the Chiefs even.

Caden Longley spotted Kelowna a one-goal lead minutes later, tipping home Carter Kowalyk's point shot.

Michaluk shut the door the rest of the way giving his offence a chance to come back.

Saige Weinstein tied it on a two-on-one five minutes into the second then won it with a spectacular individual effort just two minutes into the third.

Moments after exiting the penalty box Weinstein raced down the right wing, cut hard to the net and with one hand on the stick knifed the puck into the top corner.

Rasmus Ekstrom sealed it with a breakaway goal with less than three minutes left.

The Rockets had chances to get the equalizer especially on the power play that went just one for seven over the course of the evening.

Power outage

They had four power plays over the final 40 minutes. They moved the puck well but didn't get off enough shots.

"I thought the puck movement was where it needed to be but the shot selection, especially against a goaltender that's feeling it...you have to grease one in," said Mallette.

"We had some looks. This one is going to be a tough one to swallow...we just didn't capitalize."

The loss allows the Chiefs to creep to within four of the Rockets and Vancouver Giants who share sixth and seventh in the Western Conference.

Tri-City, who edged Seattle 2-1 Tuesday, are four back of Spokane and just eight behind the Rockets.

The Rockets hit the road for back-to-back games in Victoria this weekend before return home to host the the Tri-City Americans in a 2 p.m. holiday matinee next Monday.



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