The Spokane Chiefs set a club record Saturday while playing their first home game of the Western Hockey League season. Spokane's 2-1 win over the Tri-City Americans boosted its record to 4-0 and tied the 1992-93 Chiefs for the best start in team history. Read story
The Chiefs were one bad break from going to overtime Saturday, even though the game felt similar to the 6-2 pasting that Spokane put on the Americans in last week's season opener in Kennewick.
The difference this time was strong goalie play by T-C's Eric Comrie and a Chiefs power-play game that couldn't quite cash in.
“We had chances,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “We shot the puck. No difference. Some nights you’re going to get lucky with the shots coming off the goalie. You have to give the goalie credit.”
“Comrie’s a good goalie and we knew we’d have to get a lot of shots on him to put one behind him and he played a good game,” said Mitch Holmberg, who scored both goals. “All we could do was keep pounding away and hope for one to go in.”
The Americans went nearly 13 minutes of the final period without a shot on goal.
“I thought our 'D' was strong on the back end,” Nachbaur said. “We made some mistakes handling pucks. I think the big crowd (8,811), the first time for a lot of guys, we had a lot of nervous kids. We’ll pass that off as being nerves.”
Holmberg said the big crowd gave Spokane an extra boost.
“They kept their energy going, which was great,” he said. “Especially with us going down 1-0 they could have sat in their seats, but they kept it alive.”
“We weren’t really good tonight,” Nachbaur said. “We got the results we wanted, but I felt a lot of guys struggled. Struggled with pucks. We were just too overactive in areas where we should have been more patient. … But you know what? Mitch Holmberg and Mike (Aviani) came up with big games and we won another game. We’ll take that and move on to the next one.”
“The next one” is Wednesday at big, bad Portland, the defending WHL champion that came one win away from winning last year's Memorial Cup. The Winterhawks are 2-1-0-1 this year with 24 goals, tied with Prince Albert, the WHL's other 4-0 team, for tops in the league.
Asked if he had any thoughts about Portland, Nachbaur said: “Nope. … I know they won tonight.”