The WinterHawks have relied all season on their offensive prowess to carry the team. Last weekend in Spokane, both their defense and their offense were simply offensive. The Spokane Chiefs swept the Hawks over the weekend, winning Saturday 5-2, and finishing on Sunday 6-1. With the losses, the WinterHawks failed to capitalize on Tri-City’s losses to Spokane on Friday and to Kamloops on Saturday.
Ty Rattie started quick for the WinterHawks on Saturday, scoring just eight seconds after Spokane center Mike Aviani was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking. The Hawks kept on the pressure, and outshot the Chiefs 10-5 in the first. The second was a far different story.
Center Steven Kuhn and defenseman Brendan Kichton scored in the early part of the period for the Chiefs, giving them a 2-1 lead. When Chiefs defenseman Corbin Baldwin was sent to the box for slashing, the WinterHawks had a great chance to tie the game. Kichton and Kuhn had different ideas. Kichton stole a Derrick Pouliot pass and Kuhn finished on the ensuing breakaway, extending the Chiefs’ lead 3-1. Rattie would make the penalty on Baldwin count, scoring just fifty seconds later to cut the lead to 3-2, but the damage was done.
The Chiefs quickly scored to start the third, and sealed the game with three minutes to play. All night long the WinterHawks first line was outplayed by the Chiefs first line. Rattie, Pouliot, Joseph Morrow and Sven Bartschi all finished minus-three for the game.
Sunday started sour for the WinterHawks, and ended ugly, with several ejections marking a severely frustrated team. Mac Carruth was a human target from the get go, with Aviani scoring twenty-six seconds into the game. Liam Stewart scored a short-handed goal to make it 2-0 seven minutes later, and the rout was on.
The pressure did not let up in the second, and the Chiefs made it 4-0, when WinterHawks winger Brad Ross once again showed his ugly side. Ross hit Chiefs captain Darren Kramer with a savage blind side check, and the teams started a full brawl on the ice. 70 penalty minutes were handed out for the resulting scrum, with several players coming off the bench to initiate contact. Ross then fought away from referees trying to kick him off the ice, fighting winter Marek Klaus, before attacking a trainer helping him to the locker room. Ross and Oliver Gabriel were ejected, as well as Aviani and Kramer for the Chiefs. Dylan Walchuk added insult to injury, scoring for the Chiefs on the resulting 4-on-3, causing coach Mike Johnston to pull Carruth in favor of Brendan Burke.
Bartschi scored in the third for the Hawks, but it was far too little, far too late. The chippiness continued in the period as well, with Joseph Morrow hitting Walchuk with a cross-check. Morrow was then slammed to the ice in a retaliation fight with Chiefs enforcer Carter Proft. Proft would be ejected for the incident.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Brad Ross needs to be suspended at least five games for his actions on the ice on Sunday. Ross’s hit, and subsequent actions against the players and referees was classless, and portrayed him to the league as nothing but a thug. While his scoring shows a talent under the aggression, actions like the ones Ross took cannot and should not be tolerated by the league. Ross has been suspended before, in the playoffs against Kelowna last year when he blindsided Zach Franko of the Rockets.
Suspensions will be handed out today.