Last weekend the Spokane Chiefs' offense was humming along, scoring 18 goals in three games. This weekend the Chiefs suffered back-to-back shutouts, including Saturday night's 3-0 setback to a Tri-City Americans team that had lost eight consecutive games. The Western Hockey League's regular season is down to seven games for the Chiefs, with two weeks to turn things around. Read story
Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur was proud of his team Friday night after Spokane played hard but came up short, 2-0, against a Portland Winterhawks group that notched its 21st consecutive victory.
Nachbaur wasn't as charitable after Saturday night's loss to the struggling Tri-City Americans.
“It starts with prepartation,” Nachbaur said. “So many errant pucks, slow motion, playing the game standing still. For me, it’s about you get out of it what you put into it. Our guys weren’t invested in winning at all. They were invested in just playing.”
“The last game they creamed us 7-0, so it’s almost like we had something to prove this time,” Americans center Brian Williams said.
Nachbaur said he could sense his Chiefs weren't ready to play well before they took the ice.
“Our best players didn’t show up tonight, as far as I’m concerned,” Nachbaur said.
Chiefs 20-year-old center Mike Aviani is trying to rediscover his offense. Aviani totaled 29 goals and 28 assists during his first 40 games of the season. In his 22 games since, he has three goals and 11 assists.
Nachbaur was asked to assess the Chiefs' offensive ebb-and-flow for this season. Spokane wasn't shut out for its first 42 games of the season but has been whitewashed in seven of its last 23.
“We’re not a highly skilled team,” Nachbaur said. “We have to score and manufacture goals the good old-fashioned way with hard work. We worked hard (Friday) night and I guess our guys thought that was enough.”
Spokane's next four games are on the road because the Arena is hosting next week's State 2B and 1B basketball tournaments. The road swing starts with Canadian Hockey League top-ranked Kelowna on Wednesday and ends March 11 with a key game against Seattle, which is unbeaten against the Chiefs this season and attempting to wrap up home-ice advantage in the playoffs. Back-to-back games with Western Conference ninth-place Prince George are set for Friday and Saturday.
The Chiefs return home March 12 against Everett, which has lost 18 consecutive games at the Arena.