Young line gives Chiefs hope for the future
The Spokane Chiefs’ top scorers, such as brothers Kailer and Keanu Yamamoto, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Hudson Elynuik, are undeniably talented and exciting to watch.
But they can’t be relied on every night.
Spokane’s secondary scoring has recieved a boost in recent games from one of the Chiefs’ youngest forward lines, consisting of Hayden Ostir, 17, Ethan McIndoe, 17, and Eli Zummack, 16.
“They’ve been chipping in offensively, and that’s been missing,” Nachbaur said. “We relied on three or four guys to score goals every night, and now we are getting some depth scoring.”
The three players have combined to collect 12 points combined the last four games, including five goals.
McIndoe is a physical forward adept at capitalizing in greasy areas. He scored two goals in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Tri-City, and has four goals in his last five games.
Ostir is a right winger who can skate well. He’s flashed his passing ability and vision lately, recording an assist in four of the last five games.
Zummack has come into his own lately. The rookie center has posted 16 points this season, with 10 coming in the last 12 games. The Kelowna, British Columbia, native was acquired from Red Deer at last seasons’ trade deadline in a package for Adam Helewka.
Nachbaur noted the three forwards play well together because they’re hard working and on the same page.
“They’re getting confident in their game and know where to go on the ice to score,” Nachbaur said. “They play a certain style and most of their goals are coming by getting to the net.”
Nachbaur has rewarded the group’s improved play. Recently, the Chiefs have placed McIndoe, Ostir and Zummack on a power-play shift together, along with defensemen Tyson Helgesen and Nolan Reid.
A gripe among many Chiefs fans this season has been goaltender play.
Dawson Weatherill, a 17-year-old rookie goalie, has done his best to silence those complaints.
Since giving up six goals in a 8-3 drubbing to Tri-City on Jan. 28, Weatherill has posted a .937 save percentage. His percentage for the season is .888.
“He’s had some success and he’s making big saves,” Nachbaur said. “That’s the key for me. Routine saves, you have to make. But he’s making the big saves.”
Weatherill has emerged as the Chiefs’ primary goaltender recently, ahead of 20-year-old Jayden Sittler. The Red Deer, Alberta, native has started four of the last five games in net, and relieved Sittler on Saturday against T-C after he relinquished three goals in the third period to the Americans.
Hudson Elynuik returned to action at Portland last Friday after being out for three games with an upper-body injury.
The third-round pick by the Carolina Hurricanes in last year’s NHL draft scored a goal and added an assist in his first game back against the Winterhawks. He netted his 20th goal of the season in a 4-3 comeback win at Prince George on Monday.