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Chiefs’ great start in rearview mirror

It seems a distant memory, but seven weeks ago the Spokane Chiefs had the best winning percentage (.833) in the Western Hockey League. Following Friday night's 7-3 loss to Seattle, the Chiefs are 4-5-0-2 in the last four weeks. Read story

The Chiefs have dropped from the top of the Western Conference to a tie for fifth place with Seattle, one point ahead of Tri-City.

The Western Hockey League's holiday break is coming up, but the Chiefs have four more games, including two against Everett (20-6-4-0) and Saturday's game at Seattle. The Thunderbirds are 2-0 against Spokane this week, with a scoring advantage of 12-4.

“They just used their skill and they have some skilled guys,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said after Friday's 7-3 Seattle decision.

“Shift by shift, we just kept taking it to them, and by the end of the game we were kind of wearing them down,” said Seattle's Branden Troock, who had his first career hat trick.

Nachbaur was concerned about the disparity in power-play opportunities, with Seattle finishing 3 for 8 and Spokane 1 for 2.

“Somebody ought to look into that, because (the Thunderbirds) didn’t play a perfect game out there,” Nachbaur said.

Spokane's frustrations boiled over in the third period with multiple fights. Mike Aviani's cross checking penalty with 2:19 left led to four fights, with Aviani, Mitch Holmberg, Jackson Playfair and Cole Wedman throwing the punches for Spokane.

“We’ve been in those types of game, too,” Troock said. “It’s definitely frustrating at the end. They were trying to make a point for us (for Saturday's game), so we’re going to be ready to go.”

“We had a lot of heart until a certain part of the game and then the heart disappeared,” Nachbaur said.

The Chiefs also lose Liam Stewart for the next four games. The 18-year-old center is off to play for Great Britain at the U20 world championships in Scotland.


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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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