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It was a busy Friday for the Spokane Chiefs, as they announced two big roster moves and hosted the Victoria Royals at the Arena in front of a little over 4,500 fans. Earlier in the day, the Chiefs dealt overage defenseman Davis Vandane to the Prince Albert Raiders for a conditional draft pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam draft, and then about 30 minutes before the game Spokane made the swift announcement that goalie Mac Engel has been sent home while he awaits a trade. Makes you wonder if there were some off-ice issues that sped the process up, because when rumors that the veteran netminder had been traded began to swirl on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday, Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz flat denied the move. The moves leave the Chiefs with their three overage players (D Brenden Kichton, forwards Blake Gal and Dylan Walchuk) and two goalies (Eric Williams and rookie Garret Hughson).
Despite all of the potential distractions, the Chiefs slipped by Victoria 5-3 thanks to fantastic play from their special teams and Williams. Here's the game story I filed. Spokane hosts Lethbridge on Saturday night (7 p.m.). Detroit Red Wings coach (and ex-Chiefs coach) Mike Babcock will be at the game to drop the ceremonial first puck. He obviously has some free time with the NHL lockout happening. I'll be sitting down with him and working on a story for early next week. Stay tuned, and keep up on everything here.
And share your thoughts. Do you like Spokane's roster moves? Like what you're seeing on the ice so far?
The Chiefs have reassigned 17-year old rookie Cody Nelson, who only played in three games.
Another story about Chiefs' rookie Liam Stewart.
Here's a video of the hit that got Blake Gal suspended … and 3 games are too many because the player getting hit made a wrong move and, fortunately, was not hurt. The responsibility goes both ways, as Spokane coach Don Nachbaur says.
A couple of hockey items I missed because I spent the previous two days taking a class.
* Spokane Chiefs defenseman Brenden Kichton was named to the WHL team for one game of the Subway Serires with Russia next month.
* Liam Stewart made the WHL Plays of the Week for his first career goal.
* Kenton Miller was traded again. That makes it two trades each for the two 20-year olds the Chiefs couldn't keep this season (the other is Matt Marantz). Going from Calgary to Moose Jaw is a step up in the standings for Miller, though not nearly as big as Marantz getting out of Lethbridge.
* Chiefs' prospect MacMaster has a pair of assists in Canada's U16 propsect tournament.
*There was a story of the Chiefs' doing charity work.
The streaking Chiefs are in Tri-City on Saturday night, riding a seven-game winning streak. However, all those games were at the Arena, the Chiefs have yet to win on the road. They return home a week from Saturday with an eight-game home winning streak.
Spokane fell behind for the fifth straight game but this time it didn’t take a last minute rally for the Chiefs to run their winning streak to six. The Chiefs, after allowing Everett the first two goals, stormed back to defeat the Silvertips 3-2, for the seventh-straight home win to start the Western Hockey League season. Ten years ago Spokane won its first 10 games. For the second-straight game and third time in the last five, Dominik Uher scored the game winner. Steven Kuhn and rookie Liam Stewart also scored for the Chiefs.
Stars: 3, Lotz, 2, Stewart, 1, Kuhn
Long box below
Liam Stewart, visiting the House of Charity on Tuesday with his Chiefs teammates, listens to an improvised song by Jefferson Wes about the team winning this year's Memorial Cup. (SR photo: Dan Pelle)
Of all the opportunities Liam Stewart has had, the one he grabbed and held on to with an unmistakable passion is hockey. “The atmosphere around the room, stepping on the ice every day, I just love it,” the Spokane Chiefs’ rookie forward said. “I love scoring. I love the aggressiveness of it. It’s just a lot of fun. And it’s different from what both my parents did.” According to Stewart, his dad is a soccer guy and his mom is a rugby fan. That would be rock music icon Rod Stewart, who is from England, and supermodel Rachel Hunter, who is from New Zealand. They divorced in 2006. “I’m privileged to have parents like that,” their son said. “I’ve traveled the world, (but) I never thought of myself different than anyone in the room. I’ve never been too cocky about it, or talked about it”/Dave Trimmer, SR. More here. (AP file photo: Rod Stewart and Holly Hunter)
Question: Will you be more inclined to follow the Spokane Chiefs this year, knowing that rock star Rod Stewart's son, Liam, plays for them?
A visit with Liam Stewart (son of Rod) and his mother Rachel Hunter reveals nothing more than a passionate hockey player and a dedicated hockey mom. First impression:, good kid with a chance to make an impact during his career with the Spokane Chiefs and a supportive mom with a lovely accent. No. 11 for the Chiefs is bound and determined to make his own name.
The Spokane Chiefs are about 30 minutes away from puck drop with the visiting Prince Albert (how many times will I type Alberta) Raiders and there's a little catching up to do.
Former Chief Tyler Vanscourt is wearing No. 21 for PA but the goalie he was traded for, Luke Lee-Knight, who got his first WHL win Wednesday, is not in goal.
First, D Tanner Mort and F Liam Stewart are back in the lineup after missing four games, out almost two weeks. Getting scratched are a pair of rookies, D Tyler King, F Jarid Hauptman. D Cole Hamblin out with lower body injury - at least we know it's not a concussion. Rookie F Cody Nelson continues to be a scratch.
Former Chief Tyler Johnson has scored in his third straight game but it looks like the Norfolk Admirals are going to lose for the first time in three games. TJ also has an assist, so five points in three games to start his pro career (there were 4 minutes left in this one at last check).
Western Hockey League referees didn't get their man but league officials did when Marcus Messier of Tri-City was suspended for four games on Tuesday.
The infraction was a double-minor checking-from-behind penalty that injured Spokane's Liam Stewart in the Chiefs' 7-2 romp in their home opener on Satuday night.
Keep reading for thoughts on the matter.