The Spokane Chiefs have struggled during the last six-plus weeks of the Western Hockey League season.
The next six-plus weeks – the final stretch of the regular season – won’t get any easier.
The Chiefs (30-18-2-0, 62 points) will play the WHL Western Conference’s top three teams (by points) during the next six days, starting tonight at Kamloops (33-15-2-3, 71).
The Chiefs also play Saturday at Portland (41-7-1-2, 85), the top-ranked team in Canadian Hockey League rankings, and Wednesday at home against fourth-ranked Kelowna (38-10-3-1, 80).
The Chiefs’ next win will be the 1,000th in franchise history.
Since reaching their high-water mark (22-7-1-0) on Dec. 7, the Chiefs are 8-11-1-0.
They’ve managed to maintain their fourth-place ranking in the conference, but Tri-City (29-19-1-2, 61) and Victoria (27-18-1-3, 58) are closing fast.
Spokane’s final 19 regular-season games, starting Feb. 8, include four with Tri-City, three with Victoria, two with Portland, and their only matchups this season against sixth-ranked Edmonton and ninth-ranked Calgary.
Whitworth split a doubleheader at 20th-ranked Redlands (Calif.), losing the first game 8-0 in five innings but winning the second 3-2 in nine.
M’Liss Powles scored from third base on an errant pickoff throw to give the Pirates what proved to be the winning run in the ninth. Whitworth, which practiced outside for the first time the day before, tied the game in the seventh when Caylan Haehl scored from second on Jamie Brunner’s hit.
North Idaho College players Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Georgia Stirton were chosen Scenic West Athletic Conference athletes of the week. Abdul-Bassit, a sophomore wing, scored 54 points in two games for the men’s team. Stirton, a freshman point guard, had 19 points, 10 assists and seven steals in two games.
Defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who played four seasons at Clemson, has joined the Spokane Shock. He spent time last year in training camps with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins.
North Idaho College completed the regular season with a 29-15 victory over Simon Fraser at Coeur d’Alene. Jarrett Morrill (141 pounds) and VJ Giulio (197) both scored pins.
The Region 18 tournament is next up for the Cardinals on Feb. 9 at Clackamas College.