Is Brad Ference a marked man?
Ference’s reputation as an agitator was established last year, when as a rookie he became the seventh most-penalized player in one season in the Chiefs’ 12 years in Spokane.
Ference was assessed 324 minutes in penalties.
But with his toughness established, the first-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks is playing this year with a tough discipline, for the most part.
That broke down late in Saturday night’s game in Tri-City when Ference picked up a misconduct for leveling a verbal blast at referee Mike Hasenfratz.
Ference deserved the 10 minutes for misconduct, Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said this week.
What Ference probably didn’t deserve was a 2-minute cross-checking infraction at 7:22 of the third period that put the Americans on a 5-on-3 power play. Marc Brown of Spokane was already in the box when Ference did little more than tap a Tri-City player.
The high-profile Ference, the 10th pick of the NHL draft, has to live with watchful eyes after his play of a year ago. But when is enough enough?
Asked if Ference is being unfairly singled out by referees who are anticipating what he does, or might do, Speltz said, “From what I’ve seen so far he’s not going to get a break.”
The opposition has at times hammered on Ference without penalty. He dishes out the same, or less, and picks up vacation time.
The Chiefs aren’t the same without him. Besides his solid play from the blue line in, he’s tied for fifth in the league in scoring among defensemen, with just over a point a game.
“What bothers me is the double standard,” Speltz said.
With the Saskatoon Blades in the arena tonight, the countdown is on for one of four Spokane 20-year-olds. Either Trent Whitfield, Greg Leeb, Perry Johnson or Joel Boschman will be gone by Monday.
Trading or cutting one of them is an unpleasant prospect to anybody in the Chiefs organization. The original cutdown dated to three over-age players was Nov. 1, but that being a Saturday the WHL gave its teams the weekend to think things over.
The sharp words that Boschman and Tri-City defenseman Zenith Komarniski traded in the hall outside the locker rooms in Tri-City Coliseum Saturday night is an indication of how often the subject of Spokane’s four 20-year-olds comes up.
Komarniski was warned to keep his head up the next time Spokane and Tri-City meet. Boschman implied that he would go after Komarniski, who’s become an irritating player in an effort to instill some toughness into what has been a soft Americans team.
Komarniski replied that he wouldn’t have to worry because Boschman was on the trading block.
That may not be entirely accurate, but the Chiefs’ 20-year-old situation is an early topic of conversation throughout the WHL West.
Ty Jones’ scoring streak came to an end Saturday night at 12 games. It’s the second-longest steak of the young WHL season. Only Brandon’s Kelly Smart - whose 15-game streak is still alive - has a longer string of games with a point or more. Jones is tied for 19th in the WHL in scoring with nine goals and 11 assists in Spokane’s 13 games. … Trent Whitfield has a point or more in six straight games, the Chiefs’ longest current streak. … Ex-Chief John Cirjak leads the WHL in scoring with 31 points. Cirjak, whose plus/minus figure in four seasons here usually leaned into the minus column, is a healthy plus-8 with the Regina Pats. Plus/minus is the difference between goals scored and goals allowed when a particular player is on the ice… . Out two games with a shoulder injury, Marian Cisar has slipped back into a tie for 10th in WHL scoring.
Goaltender Scott Bailey, who holds Chiefs records for shutouts in a season (four, ‘91-92) and career games (111) faced a lot of odd-man rushes in the two games he’s played for San Antonio of the International League. Bailey has started two games in what has been a backup role for the 3-5-2 Dragons, an independent club without NHL affiliation. Bailey was released by the Boston Bruins but landed on his feet with a contract believed to be just over $62,000. … Marc Magliarditi, who started last year in goal for the Chiefs, has the best numbers of the four goalies who’ve started games with Indianapolis of the International League. Magliarditi had a club-best 3.35 goals-against average… . Two former Spokane tough guys are plying their trade in the International League. Dean Ewen had one assist to go with 27 minutes in the penalty box for Kansas City. Kevin Sawyer hasn’t scored in eight games with the Michigan K-Wings, a Dallas Stars farm in Kalamazoo. Sawyer has spent 59 minutes in the penalty box. … Darcy Loewen, no stranger to the penalty box himself in four seasons here in the late ‘80s, is teamed with former Chiefs GM Bob Strumm with the IHL Las Vegas Thunder. Loewen had four points in his first games.
The Chiefs will be without defenseman Regan Darby (ankle) tonight when they test the Saskatoon Blades. Cisar (ankle) may play, if not tonight then by the weekend, Speltz said. Derek Schutz, resting sore ribs, could be ready Friday night when the Chiefs take on the Prince Albert Raiders here. … Saskatoon, tonight’s target in the Arena, beat Tri-City 4-3 Tuesday night.
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