True, the Spokane Chiefs were weary on Sunday while playing their third game in three nights. But that doesn't explain how the Seattle Thunderbirds, who were in the same situation AND playing on the road, came out with such life while the Chiefs appeared sluggish. Read story
A look at the Western Hockey League standings shows Everett leading all 22 teams with 44 points. Everett is a good point of reference for the Chiefs because after defeating the Silvertips 4-2 on Oct. 18, Spokane was 10-2 and had the best winning percentage in the league.
Spokane has lost 10 of 17 games since hitting its apex. This weekend was a 0-3 outcome as the Chiefs were outscored 13-5. Three of the goals came from Mitch Holmberg against Portland on Friday. Riley Whittingham had the other two.
Spokane entered Sunday's game with the second-best power-play percentage in the league (27 percent), behind Saskatoon. But the Chiefs went through a 1-for-13 weekend.
"Fatigue," Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said of what he's seen from the Chiefs' power play recently. "Slow. Not moving it quick enough, not taking the shot when it's available. Our plays are too slow in happening. Other teams are pre-scouting us, so there's gotta be other plays than the one set play."
Spokane's Mike Aviani went his fourth consecutive game without a goal after recording a streak of five consecutive games (Nov. 9-22) with a goal. Aviani gave up the No. 2 spot in league-goal scoring as his 22 trail Oliver Bjorkstrand of Portland by one.
The Chiefs went with backup goalie Garret Hughson, who was peppered by 46 shots. The Thunderbirds got off 11 shots before the Chiefs had their first.
"That's been the theme for us in the last four games," Seattle's Adam Henry said. "We come out with really strong starts and we build off that."
"We didn't really start playing until the second half of the first period, and you can't win hockey games like that," Nachbaur said. ... "From a standpoint of leadership, we needed some things to happen early in the game that didn’t happen for us."