Chiefs close out season at home in front of 10,541 Spokane faithful
Spokane, Wash. — The Spokane Chiefs closed out their 2022-2023 season Saturday night with a shootout loss to the Tri-City Americans in front of 10,541 rowdy Spokane faithful.
An emotional season finale kicked off with an on-ice recognition for three Chiefs’ 20-year-olds, Cade Hayes, Mac Gross, and Raegan Wiles.
Hayes played in 202 regular season games across his time with Moose Jaw and the Chiefs, totaling 41 goals, 55 assists and 96 points throughout his WHL career. Gross finished his career with 166 regular season games played, all with Spokane. The Swift Current native tallied 14 goals and 30 assists in his WHL career, including a career high 10 goals, 21 assists, and 31 points this season. Raegan Wiles joined the Chiefs as a young 17-year-old before eventually being named Captain for the 2022-23 season. Spokane’s leading defenseman scored 9 goals and 30 assists this season in 65 games played. In total he featured in 188 games for the Chiefs, notching 19 goals and 57 assists over his storied career.
The pre-game ceremonies continued with player awards. Chase Bertholet was named the Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, the team’s Player of the Year, and was recognized as the team’s leading scorer. Raegan Wiles was named the John “Hitman” Hearn Defenseman of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year. Jake Gudelj was named the Scholastic Player of the Year for the second season in a row, and Berkly Catton was named the Rookie of the Year. Forward Grady Lane was voted by his peers as the Spokane Chiefs Player’s Player of the Year.
Once the puck was dropped it was another intense affair between local rivals. The Chiefs would get on the board first at 8:28 after a long distance shot on net rebounded out front. Kooper Gizowski was quickest to the crease and clipped it past the Americans’ goalie before he could react.
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) March 26, 2023
The rest of the period would fly by as no further goals were scored and neither team hit the penalty box.
Tri-City equaled the game at one goal each at 16:39 of the second period. Parker Bell scored his 25th of the season with the assist going to Adam Mechura. Just one penalty was called in the frame and the two teams would head to the third period knotted at one goal each.
Tempers flared between the two rivals throughout the third period as a total of nine penalties were called. Despite chances to both teams, it remained a draw as time wound down and the game was sent to over time. This marked the 12th game this season for Spokane that saw bonus hockey. Cooper Michaluk saved all four shots he faced in the extra frame, and the game headed to a shootout.
The goalies stole the show in the shootout, with Nick Avakyan stopping five shootout attempts from the Chiefs. Lukas Dragicevic was the fifth shooter from Tri-City and finally broke the deadlock, sending the Chiefs into the offseason.
Michaluk stopped 29 of 30 shots on the night and the Chiefs went 0/2 on power play and 2/2 on penalty kill.
Ticket packages for next season are available at www.spokanechiefs.com/earlybird. The Spokane Chiefs are a member of the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League, the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players. Since 1985 the Chiefs have been a pillar in the Spokane community, offering family-friendly entertainment and a winning tradition, which includes: two Memorial Cup Championships in 1991 & 2008, two WHL Championships in 1991 & 2008 and four Western Conference Championships in 1991, 1996, 2000 & 2008. Over 60 alumni have gone on to play in the National Hockey League.