Spokane Chiefs return to action

THURSDAY, DEC. 27, 2012, 6:57 P.M.

The Spokane Chiefs return from a nine-day layoff Friday night with their first game of the Western Hockey League season against the host Kootenay Ice.

The rest came at a good time for the Chiefs, who had just lost back-to-back home games for the first time this season while dropping three of four overall. Before the short downturn, Spokane had been one of the hottest teams in the league, with 11 wins in 13 games.

Spokane (23-10-1-0, 47 points) is in second place in the U.S. Division and ranks fourth in the Western Conference, three points behind Kelowna. The Chiefs have played two less games than Kelowna.

Kootenay (10-23-1-0), which is in last place in the Eastern Conference’s Central Division, has lost three consecutive games while being outscored 14-3. Spokane is 6-2 this season against teams from the Eastern Conference.

Spokane’s Mitch Holmberg (23 goals, 19 assists), Todd Fiddler (24, 16), Brenden Kichton (nine, 31) and Mike Aviani (17, 22) all rank among the WHL’s top 22 scorers.

Spokane and Kootenay will also play at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Arena, where the Chiefs are 13-4 this season. The Chiefs won’t play at home again until Jan. 9.

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