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Chiefs expect tight series with Vancouver

Tonight, Western Hockey League history repeats itself. Sort of.

For the third time in five years, the Spokane Chiefs will meet the Vancouver Giants in the WHL playoffs. The best-of-7 series begins tonight in Vancouver, B.C.

The series marks the first time the teams have met in the first round. Spokane and Vancouver met in the second round in 2007-08 – when the Chiefs went on to win the Memorial Cup – and Vancouver won the seven-game series in the second round the following season.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” said Chiefs defenseman Corbin Baldwin, one of four Chiefs who was a part of the 2008-09 series between the teams.

“Both teams match up really evenly and there’s some history there,” he added. “I know we’re not ready to be done playing and I’m guessing they aren’t either, so it should be a tight series.”

Looking at the numbers, it certainly seems like that’s true, even if the Giants won both regular-season matchups (one in a shootout).

The fourth-seeded Giants and fifth-seeded Chiefs finished one point apart in the Western Conference standings during the regular season, with the Giants picking up two more wins than Spokane.

“I really do (like this matchup) for us,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said. “I’d be real surprised if either team won in four or five games.”

Kichton, Gow honored

Defensemen Brenden Kichton and Reid Gow were honored by the WHL on Thursday.

Kichton was named the Western Conference’s defenseman of the year and a first-team all-star, while Gow was selected as the conference’s scholastic player of the year.

Kichton is the first player in franchise history to earn the individual award and the fourth to earn first-team all-star honors, joining Bryan McCabe (1993-94), Kurt Sauer (2001-02) and Jared Cowen (2010-11). 

Kichton is now up for the Del Wilson Trophy as the league’s defenseman of the year, along with Alex Petrovic of the Edmonton Oil Kings, who won in the Eastern Conference. Gow is a finalist for the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy along with Calgary’s Jimmy Bubnick in the East. 

The winners will be announced at the 2012 WHL awards luncheon in Calgary, Alberta, on May 2.