A win in the Western Hockey League always means something – even if it’s merely gaining two points in the standings.
This particular win meant more.
Six players scored and the Spokane Chiefs won their fourth straight game with a 6-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips on Wednesday night at the Arena – giving coach Don Nachbaur his 500th win as a coach in the WHL.
Nachbaur joins an elite list of coaches with 500 or more wins. The league’s reigning Coach of the Year won 202 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds and 229 in Tri-City. He has 69 wins in Spokane.
Nachbaur is the sixth coach in the history of the league to hit the 500-win milestone and the third coach in two seasons to accomplish the feat as both Don Hay of the Vancouver Giants and Lorne Molleken of the Saskatoon Blades made it to 500 last season. Nachbaur also joined Ken Hodge (742), Ernie McClean (548) and Pat Ginnell (518) on the list of coaches with 500 or more wins.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” Chiefs defenseman Brenden Kichton said. “He’s definitely very deserving of that 500th win.
“He rides us hard, he’s a great coach, he keeps us structured, he pushes every player to the limit and expects the best from us every night, and we couldn’t ask for a better coach.”
Chiefs owner Bobby Brett made his way onto the bench following the game, and it didn’t take long after the special congratulatory announcement for him to nudge Nachbaur – a gentle reminder for the coach to acknowledge that the announcement was about him.
Nachbaur gave a brief wave and a smile to the crowd, and went on congratulating his players on the win.
“That’s just his personality,” said Kichton, who finished with a goal and two assists. “He’s happy about it – I know it. I’m happy he was able to get his 500th (win) here in Spokane.”
The humble Nachbaur gave most of the credit away.
“As a player I liked to score, but it was never about scoring, it was about being on a winning team,” Nachbaur said. “The 500 – I guess – is a token of what I’ve done, but at the end of the day it’s been what the kids have done.”
The Chiefs started out slowly, but managed to lead 2-1 after the first period.
Mitch Holmberg put Spokane on the board 5 minutes, 35 seconds into the first when his shot from the slot hit the left post and went top shelf past Everett goalie Kent Simpson.
The Chiefs added to their lead 2 minutes later when Mike Aviani redirected Darren Kramer’s shot in a scramble in front of the net.
Everett defenseman Brennan Yadlowski put the Silvertips on the board, scoring a power-play goal at 16:25 and cutting Spokane’s lead to 2-1.
After that, it was all Spokane.
Blake Gal fell in a scramble in front of the net, only to get back up in time to bury a quick slapshot from the low slot off a beauty of a pass from Kichton near the end of the period.
The Chiefs added two goals in the second period – the first at 3:24 when Kramer capitalized on a Silvertips turnover and went 1-on-1 with Simpson for his 14th goal of the season. Liam Stewart took advantage of another Everett turnover late in the period and scored unassisted at 17:00.
Kichton scored the only goal of the third period.
Spokane is back on the road and will play the Silvertips for the third straight game on Friday in Everett.
Todd Fiddler finished with two assists in the win and has four goals and five assists in his seven games in Spokane. … Kramer had a goal and as assist. … Newest Chiefs player Dylan Walchuk did make it to Spokane in time to play. He centered the fourth line with Steven Kuhn and Marek Kalus.