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Coach wants Chiefs to battle harder

The last portion of the Spokane Chiefs’ practice Wednesday was dedicated to power plays and penalty killing, a necessity for all hockey teams.

Otherwise, the Chiefs have spent a lot of time doing drills that involved fostering competition, the result of a dismal effort in the Western Hockey League opener, a 6-3 loss at Tri-City on Saturday.

“Our level of play was way beneath their level of play,” Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur said. “I’m talking about intensity, battle out there, about compete level. It was the men against the boys and it’s not like we have boys on our team, we just played like boys.

“The passion for what we did surely didn’t come out.”

Therefore, the emphasis for practice heading into Friday night’s game at Kootenay and the home opener Saturday, a rematch with the Americans, “has to be the level of play,” Nachbaur said.

“There are common denominators in a game you don’t see in practice, the crowd, the intensity, more at stake in a game than at practice,” Nachbaur said. “The only thing that really concerned me is that when they finished checks, when they got into battles, (Tri-City) usually won those battles, whereas where we had an opportunity to execute the same type of plays, we chose not to.”

So Nachbaur and assistant coach Jon Klemm, in addition to working on the new coach’s system, emphasized the mental approach.

“I think it’s a mentality that I have to get through with our guys – you don’t win any hockey games unless you put your best foot forward, and that’s competing,” Nachbaur said. “In any good fight that’s worth fighting, it’s where you have to be in hockey. We just looked for the easy game and you don’t win looking for the easy game.”

Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel is donating $1 for every save made by a Chiefs goaltender this season, with the proceeds going to Camp STIX, a camp for children and teams with diabetes in northeastern Washington.

“I’m happy that Coeur d’Alene Casino chose the Chiefs to help raise money and awareness for Camp STIX,” Chiefs 20-year-old goaltender James Reid said. “Hopefully, I can do my part and help them with a big donation. It will definitely be something else to play for.”

Reid made 1,621 saves last year and two other goalies contributed another 419.

Tri-City has moved to No. 3, the top ranking for a WHL team, in the Canadian Hockey League standings. The Drummondville Voltigeurs from the Quebec league, off to a 6-0 start, are No. 1. Saskatoon is No. 7 and Red Deer is No. 9, each moving up a spot. T-C was No. 6 a week ago.