The Spokane Chiefs and Kootenay Ice completed a back-to-back, home-and-away series Saturday night at the Arena. Kootenay's 2-1 win avenged Spokane's 6-4 win at Cranbrook, British Columbia, on Friday night and gave the Ice a 2-1 lead in a season series that will ultimately include five games. It also ended Spokane's four-game winning streak, tied for the tops of the Chiefs' season. Read story
The Spokane-Kootenay series is unique in that the Chiefs are accustomed to playing most Eastern Conference teams just once in a season. But Cranbrook, as Kootenay goalie Mackenzie Skapski pointed out, is a mere 3 hours' drive from Spokane and affords fans of both teams an opportunity to attend road games.
Spokane has been tough on Eastern Conference teams other than Kootenay, winning seven games, losing to Edmonton in regulation and losing to Regina in a shootout.
Skapski calculated that he has met up with Spokane six times.
"I kind of know peoples’ tendencies and the players on their team," Skapski said. "They like to shoot pucks and crash the net, so I have to deal with that."
Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur was impressed with the Ice, who have 41 points, five fewer than Spokane, and are tied for sixth place in the conference. The Chiefs stand in sixth place in the Western Conference, three points behind fifth-place Everett and four behind four-place Seattle.
"They’re really structured and they work and they’re patient in their end, and we didn’t do what we had to do to adjust and score goals," Nachbaur said.
"We needed the two points tonight," Skapski said. "We’re in the playoff hunt and the trade deadline is coming up, so we wanted to prove a point that we’re contenders."
The trading deadline, by the way, is Jan. 10. The Chiefs could use another top-line scorer to support Mitch Holmberg and Mike Aviani, or a defenseman in the mold of Reid Gow who can help set up the offense, but the rumor mill appears fairly silent.