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Psyched out by Portland

There's no getting around it: The Spokane Chiefs can't get the Portland Winterhawks out of their minds. Read story

It would be one thing if the Portland Winterhawks were unbeatable, but they're not. Five Western Conference teams own wins over Portland this season. Seattle, currently sixth in the conference standings, and Tri-City, sitting at No. 7, own two wins apiece against Portland.

But the Chiefs have not been able to figure out Portland since a 5-4 win last Jan. 23. Spokane lost its final four regular-season games against the Winterhawks during the 2012-13 season, got swept 4-0 in the second round of the playoffs, and is 0-5 against Portland following Friday night's 6-3 setback at the Arena.

Even Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur claims the Chiefs are in a mental rut against Portland.

"One-hundred percent, 100 percent," Nachbaur said.

"It might be a little bit mental," Chiefs leader Mitch Holmberg said. "I think we’ve had slow starts and it’s just something we’re going to have to work on as a group."

Until Friday, the Chiefs were 15-2 when Holmberg scores a goal.

Holmberg's hat trick allowed him to tie Mark Wingerter for ninth place on the club's all-time goal scorers list, with 115. Holmberg also tied Drayson Bowman for 14th in career points (242).

The good news for Spokane: just three more regular-season games against Portland this year, and none for another seven weeks. The Winterhawks' only other game in Spokane during the regular season will be Feb. 28.

"We weren’t good enough tonight," Nachbaur said. "But it’s one game. We have to put that one behind us."

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Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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