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Struggles continue for Chiefs

CRANBROOK, British Columbia – Mackenzie Skapski turned back 31 shots Friday to highlight the Kootenay Ice’s 4-1 win over the Spokane Chiefs in Western Hockey League play at Western Financial Place.

The Chiefs (31-21-2-0, 64 points), who have lost nine of their last 13 games, dropped into sixth place in the Western Conference when Victoria (31-19-1-3, 66) posted a 5-3 win at Tri-City (31-20-1-2, 65).

Austin Vetterl had one goal and one assist and Zach McPhee added two assists for the Ice, who scored twice in the third period to salt away the win.

Jon Martin and Levi Cable scored first-period goals 2 1/2-minutes apart to stake the Ice (25-27-2-0) to a 2-0 lead.

Spokane outshot Kootenay 12-11 in the first period and 18-8 in the second period, when the Chiefs broke through with Mitch Holmberg’s power-play goal. Mike Aviani and Adam Helewka assisted on the goal, Holmberg’s 32nd of the season.

The Chiefs couldn’t capitalize on three other power plays, making them 4 for 42 in their last 10 games.

The Ice increased their lead to 3-1 on Luke Philp’s goal 54 seconds into the final period. Vetterl capped the scoring at 8:02.

The teams have split four games this season and will meet for the final time on March 9.

The Chiefs had one bit of good news as right wings Connor Chartier and Jackson Playfair returned from injuries.