It was a busy weekend for the Spokane Chiefs, as they announced two big roster moves and hosted the Victoria Royals at the Arena in front of a little over 4,500 fans on Friday and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday.
Earlier on Friday, the Chiefs dealt overage defenseman Davis Vandane to the Prince Albert Raiders for a conditional draft pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam draft, and then about 30 minutes before the game Spokane made the swift announcement that goalie Mac Engel has been sent home while he awaits a trade. Makes you wonder if there were some off-ice issues that sped the process up - which an annonymous team source essentially confirmed on Friday - because when rumors that the veteran netminder had been traded began to swirl on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday, Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz flat denied the move.
The moves leave the Chiefs with their three overage (20-year-old) players: D and captain Brenden Kichton, forwards Blake Gal and Dylan Walchuk) and two goalies (19-year-old Eric Williams and young rookie Garret Hughson). It also brings them to the league-mandated 25-player limit, although Spokane isn't likely to carry to full 25 on its roster according to Speltz, who said, "That means Don and the coaches have to tell four of five guys every single night that they aren't playing, and that's no fun for us or the guys. It's not fair."
Despite all of the potential distractions heading into their pair of games, the Chiefs slipped by Victoria 5-3 thanks to fantastic play from their special teams and Williams. Here's the game story I filed. Spokane then turned around and defeated Lethbridge on Saturday night after Detroit Red Wings coach (and ex-Chiefs coach) Mike Babcock dropped the ceremonial first puck. He obviously has some free time with the NHL lockout happening. I was lucky enough to sit down and interview him one-on-one and am working on a story for early next week that involves a handful of other former Chiefs. Stay tuned, and keep up on everything here.
Here are a couple other noteable notes after the four-point weekend for the Chiefs:
- With a goal in Saturday's game - a skilled shot from the low slot on a breakaway out of the neutral zone - Mitch Holmberg kept the longest goal scoring streak in the Western Hockey League intact with his eighth goal in five games. Holmberg has scored goals in his last 18 games, including the 2012 WHL playoffs.
- Kichton also celebrated a personal milestone last week.
And share your thoughts. Do you like Spokane's roster moves? Like what you're seeing on the ice so far?