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Fri., Feb. 28, 2014, 11:17 p.m.

Finished with Portland … maybe

The Spokane Chiefs are absolutely done with the Portland Winterhawks when it comes to the Western Hockey League's regular season. Whether the Chiefs face Portland again in the playoffs remains to be seen. Read story

Portland and Spokane have both qualified for the WHL playoffs. Unless something drastic happens during the final eight games of the regular season, the Winterhawks will be seeded No. 2 and the Chiefs will be No. 5.

If so, Portland will open against the seventh-seeded team, Vancouver or Everett, and the Chiefs will open against the No. 4, most likely Seattle.

Should both teams win first-round series, it's unlikely that they would be matched up in the second round, as they were last season. Presumably, if seeds hold true, Portland would play the No. 3, at this point Victoria, and Spokane would play the No. 1, Kelowna.

The point is, a lot would have to occur for Portland and Spokane to meet again this year. Given Portland's dominance since Jan. 23, 2013 (16 consecutive wins), that may be good for the Chiefs.

Portland outscored Spokane 19-3 during the final four games of this season's series, although Friday night's 2-0 decision felt like a moral victory.

"We did a lot of good things, we just couldn’t score," Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. "We’ve had a lot of those games this year where we’ve been shut out, but it’s not from a lack of trying. I think we had solid efforts from a lot of people. Some guys could have played better, but Portland plays you hard. They don’t make things easy."

"I thought (the Chiefs) came out with a lot of jump there in the first period," Portland goalie Corbin Boes said. "They came up with a lot of turnovers. I’m pretty new to the U.S. Division, so I haven’t seen them a lot. They had a good first period and outplayed us, but I think the last two periods kind of balanced out."

Nachbaur said it took some big third-period saves by Eric Williams to keep Portland from running away as it did that last two times the teams met (5-0, 6-0).

Nachbaur was asked it Spokane's No. 1 goal for the rest of the regular season is trying to catch Seattle for the No. 4 berth and home-ice advantage. Seattle has 82 points, four more than Spokane, as it prepares to host Portland on Saturday night.

"It’s not about being first or last, it’s about preparing for the playoffs and making sure your team game’s in order," Nachbaur said.



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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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