It would seem the second weekend of preseason games was a rousing success for the Spokane Chiefs.
Minus a few veterans, the Chiefs put a 7-2 whippin’ on Lethbridge before losing to Tri-City, 2-1.
“I really liked what I saw on Thursday,” new Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “Obviously the results on Saturday weren’t real good. I thought we had a good 20 minutes, but the wrong 20 minutes. The last 20 minutes were outstanding but the first 40 minutes I thought we were just there in body, we weren’t there with our hearts and our minds. We just played.
“There has to be more passion shown against a team like Tri-City.”
That said, what about the fact that between the Spokane games the Hurricanes put a 6-2 hurtin’ on the Americans?
“Don’t read anything into that,” he said. “The lineups in all these tournaments have changed on a daily basis. Every team is missing key guys. Some of the teams are more polished because they have more veterans in the lineup … so they play more structured than a team that has a lot of news guys, or a new coach.”
And the negatives from the loss far outweigh the positives of the win.
“I thought we really stood around against Tri-City,” he said. “That can’t be our game because we’re not a big team. We’ve got to skate, we’ve got to use our assets.
“The two intangibles I look for are work ethic one, then compete, two. I thought we stood around, we didn’t answer the bell on either of those the second game.”
Nachbaur did break from his practice of not singling out individuals by saying veteran goalie James Reid was outstanding against TC.
“The rest of us did a lot of standing around, a lot of chasing the puck versus having the puck,” he said. “The exhibition games are to see where you’re at, what type of group you’ve got and there are areas we need to work at.”
The Chiefs have two games left before opening the season at Tri-City on Sept. 25. They travel to face the Americans on Friday and then get a visit from Kootenay on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game at Eagles Ice-A-Rena.
With four veterans at NHL camps, it’s a final chance for young players to win the competition for a spot on the team.
“It won’t be our lineup again,” Nachbaur said. “This is junior hockey where you’ll have guys show up at the last minute right before the season starts. It’s a chance for guys here to make a name for themselves and a chance for us to see how the pieces fit.”
Nachbaur hasn’t used the same lineup, or lines, two games in a row.
Missing forwards Tyler Johnson, Levko Koper and Blake Gal and defenseman Brenden Kichton won’t matter this weekend any more than it did before.
“I’m not going to make excuses for guys. I thought we lacked emotions and were just putting in time,” he said. “You can use the excuse we had guys gone, but we played real good Thursday … but the things we did Thursday we forgot on Saturday.”
There is a sense that better not happen again or there may not be a return trip to TC for some players in 10 days.