Don't look now but the Spokane Chiefs are in first place in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League. Well, they're tied with the Portland Winterhawks, but the Chiefs have played two fewer games in addition to having the head-to-head tiebreaker. I don't have the information at my fingertips and my memory isn't what it used to be, but I know it wasn't that long ago they were double-figure points behind and it may have been pretty darn close to 20 points back.
The Chiefs, who should have been exhausted, jumped on the Everett Silvertips early on Sunday for a 4-1 win, which was also the 77th career win for goalie James Reid (above), tying him with Dustin Tokarski for the most in team history. Read on.
Everett was playing its third game in three nights. So were the Chiefs. The Chiefs also played a home-and-home with Kootenay, which is three hours away in Cranbook, B.C., (and included a 3-hour delay because of an accident) while the Silvertips were going home-and-home with Seattle. The Chiefs also had a game last Wednesday, in Portland (with Everett off), and the distraction of a little event at a baseball stadium, which included a practice and lots of interviews on Thursday.
That isn't knocking the Silvertips, that's a tip of the hat to the Chiefs, who just keep showing up to work and doing their job.
Jared Cowen became the latest - and ninth - Chief to reach 10 goals.
Tyler Johnson scored his league-leading 34th goal, two shy of his career high, and with two assists set a career high with 36. He also moved into second in the league points race with 70, one shy of his career high. He is two points behind Linden Vey of Medicine Hat, which has played two more games.
Dominik Uher remains hot with another goal. In has been kept off the scoresheet just four times in 18 games so far in December and January.
Matt Marantz, the unsung star of Saturday's outdoor game, had the last goal. Marantz had one goal and three assists in the outdoor game but after watching the replay it sure looked like he had a deflection for one of the first-period goals. There was a pretty big struggle with the stats, for whatever reason, so that could be changed once the Chiefs, who stay on the road for a game at Chilliwack on Tuesday, can document all those 11 goals and their helpers.
Chiefs 4, at Silvertips 1
EVERETT, Wash. _ WHL :
1. Spokane, Cowen 10 (Johnson, Kichton) 1:11
2. Spokane, Johnson 34, 1:28
3. Spokane, Uher 12 (Kichton, Johnson) 3:08 (pp)
Penalties - Hayer Evt (tripping) 2:33, Holmberg Spo (goaltender interference) 4:18, Vandane Spo (interference) 6:08, Gow Spo (tripping) 15:06.
4. Spokane, Marantz 11 (Kuhn) 0:13
5. Everett, Harrison 16 (Ferraro, Maxwell) 11:28
Penalties - Johnson Spo (holding) 1:02, Harrison Evt (cross checking) 5:33.
Penalties - Fowlie Evt (hooking) 8:20, Cowen Spo (checking from behind) , Bardaro Spo (high sticking) .
Shots on goal by
Spokane 17 14 16 - 47
Everett 14 6 13 - 33
Goal (shots-saves) _ Spokane: Reid (W,26-8-2-1)(33-32); Everett: Siemens (L,6-7-0-0)(3-1), Simpson (1:28 1st)(44-42).
Power plays (goals-chances) _ Spokane: 1-3; Everett: 0-6.
Referees _ Ryan Benbow, Shane Warschaw. Linesmen _ Glen Eisler, Ron Dietterle.
Attendance _ 4,957.