It's wise not to put too much stock into preseason games, even when it means losing to a bitter rival. But the Spokane Chiefs still had a few concerns after Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Tri-City American at the Eastern Washington University Recreation Center. Read story
Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur wanted to see a better effort from his veterans with the start of the regular season just 10 days away.
"I think the compete level of a lot of guys was way under par," he said. "I’m not just talking about the young guys, I’m talking about some of the returning players. They have to be better. We have one exhibition game (Saturday) before the season starts, so we have a lot of pieces to put together."
Tri-City's first goal, by Ty Comrie at 4:56 of the first period, appeared to catch many fans off-guard. There was little reaction from the pro-Chiefs crowd when Comrie scored his first goal of the preseason.
"We made some mistakes in the neutral zone," Nachbaur said. "A couple of young guys were out of position, but our 'D' didn’t handle it at all."
Chiefs 20-year-old goalie Eric Williams faced off against T-C backup Troy Trombley. Eric Comrie is the Americans' top goalie, and he missed last year's playoff series against the Chiefs because of an injury.
Nachbaur praised the play of veterans Mitch Holmberg, Mike Aviani and Liam Stewart.
"I can’t take a night off," Holmberg said. "Obviously, that’s something I have to work on. I just have to show the young guys how to do it. It’s going to be hard work, but I’m looking forward to it."
Nachbaur and Holmberg said they enjoyed playing at Eastern Washington's facility and didn't think the unfamiliar rink affected play.
"We’ve skated here for the last couple of years, so we know it," Nachbaur said. "It’s a great facility and it’s nice to play at game here. I think everybody enjoyed that."
"I think we still have the best fans in the league," Holmberg said of the Chiefs faithful who made the trip to Cheney. .. "After that first (Chiefs) goal (in the third period), I loved it. It just went crazy in here and that’s what you want for every game."
As for whether his team is ready for the regular season, Nachbaur's response was direct: "Not even close."