Even though it wasn’t always apparent on the ice, the month of January took its toll on the Spokane Chiefs.
“Exhausted,” was the word Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur repeatedly used to describe the grueling month – which had Spokane face more opponents than any other team in the Western Hockey League in the same period of time.
The grind isn’t over. In a way it’s just beginning, with the end of the regular season nearing and playoffs right around the corner.
“It’s very intense,” Chiefs defenseman Brenden Kichton said of the month ahead for Spokane, which is seven points back of Portland for third in the Western Conference standings. “There are a lot of games and a lot of hockey to be played and it’s especially important to pick up wins and move up in the conference standings.”
The Chiefs, who host the Seattle Thunderbirds for the second straight time tonight at the Arena, wrapped up the successful 15-game month of January earning 24 of a possible 30 points in the standings after they posted an 11-2-2-0 record. Their 11 wins tied a franchise record for most wins in a month – which the club had accomplished four times.
This month, Spokane will average a game every other night as they play 14 games in 28 days – six at home and eight on the road. TheChiefs have already played four of the 14, with mixed results, picking up two wins (one in a shootout) and dropping two.
“We need to play solid hockey this month and get as many wins as possible,” Kichton said. “But most importantly, we have to play the right way to accomplish that, so that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”
After tonight’s game against Seattle, the Chiefs will host the Tri-City Americans on Saturday.
Ice chips: Chiefs defenseman Tanner Mort, who has been out since late December with an undisclosed upper-body injury, has been upgraded to day-to-day. Fellow blueliner Reid Gow (right hand) is out for at least a month. … At his current pace, Chiefs captain Darren Kramer will finish the regular season with 46 points, more than triple his output last season. … All 10 of forward Mike Aviani’s goals this season have been against U.S. Division opponents.