March 24, 2010 in Sports

Chiefs fall to Portland

By The Spokesman-Review

If Portland can duplicate its regular-season success in the playoffs, this Western Hockey League series is far from over.

The Winterhawks improved to 5-0 at the Arena this series with a 2-1 win over Spokane Wednesday night, slicing the Chiefs advantage in the best-of-7 series to 2-1.

The next two games are here Friday and Saturday.

“They’ve just had some luck here, they’ve played well here,” Spokane forward Mitch Wahl said. “Home ice is obviously not really an issue in this series but we have to win one of these games at home.”

That was one of the points that Portland coach Mike Johnston made to his green team after they opened the series with two losses at home.

“We just talked about how well we played on the road this year, how well we played in this building,” he said. “We had four good periods of hockey in the series and we’re down 2-0. I always find Game 3 a real turning-point game. It had to be a turning point game for us because we were on the ropes.”

Portland pretty much controlled the game but didn’t get the game winner until 4 minutes remained. Luke Walker skated wide around the Spokane goal and fed defenseman Troy Rutkowski with a cross-ice pass for an easy goal as Chiefs’ goalie James Reid went down in a collision with a Winterhawk.

“We came out with slow starts in all three games, that’s something we’ve got to change,” Wahl said. “I think they pretty much outworked us the whole game tonight and we have to get that back Friday. They were down 2-0 so we knew they were going to be more desperate.

“They’re back in it now.”

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