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The WHL came down hard on the Portland Winterhawks today for violations of league policy regarding player benefits. Read the story here.
Don Nachbaur will be the first one to tell you his Spokane Chiefs are not a run-and-gun team.
The Portland Winterhawks, however, are – so when they forced their style of hockey upon the Chiefs on Friday night the result was a 3-2 Western Hockey League loss in overtime in front of 6,243 fans at the Arena.
The Spokane Chiefs return home this weekend to play the Portland Winterhawks and Kootenay Ice on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. You can read a quick advance that is running in tomorrow's section here. Last Sunday's game between Spokane and Portland at the Arena resulted in a few, well, altercations. I would expect Friday's game to be very intense.
The Chiefs trail fourth-place Vancouver by one point in the Western Conference standings.
Not to be a tease, but I thought I'd let readers know that I'm working on a piece on Chiefs goalie Mac Engel that will run next week. When it's done, you all will be the first to know.
The Spokane Chiefs wrapped up a solid weekend of hockey tonight at the Arena. After scoring on their first shift of the game, the Chiefs went on to a 6-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks. That's three wins in a row now for Spokane, which trails both teams it beat this weekend in the standings.
Sorry for the late post, I had some internet issues back at the Arena tonight. I'm home now and am happy to share the link to tonight's game story and photo album. Also, here's a link to the game sheet.
In the opening act of three straight home games against the Portland Winterhawks, the Spokane Chiefs proved that desperate hockey goes a long way - especially this time of year.
Below you'll find the unedited story I filed for tomorrow's section. There will be more later.
With 15 wins and 16 losses, including some not so pretty ones recently, there could be a lot of changes in store when the Spokane Chiefs come back from Christmas break. They hit the break with a 6-2 loss in Everett and Saturday an 8-6 loss at home to Portland.
3 stars: 3, Jarid Haputman, Spokane (2g, a). 2, Ty Rattie, Portland (g, 2a). 1,Chase De Leo, Portland (2g).
Long box below.
Troy Rutkowski, Ty Rattie and Nino Niederreiter scored in the third period as the Portland Winterhawks ended the Spokane Chiefs season with a 6-3 win Molnday night at the Arena, taking the Western Conference best-of-7 finals in six games.
The Chiefs jumped to a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game but they couldn't hold off the Winterhawks, who face Kootenay in the Western Hockey League championship beginning this weekend in Portland.
Portland's Ryan Johansen, who scored in five of the six games, was MVP.
Long box below.
I slacked off Sunday, calling it a day after returning from Portland (well, I did mow the grass and attend to a few other chores). John Blanchette advanced tonight's Western Hockey League playoff Game 6 between Spokane and Portland with this column on Chiefs' captain Jared Cowen.
If the Chiefs win tonight to force a Game 7 in Portland on Tuesday it will make the fifth time in the past 6 series between these two teams Spokane won a Game 6 to force a Game 7.
Missed on deadline and travel out of Game 4: That was Levko Koper's 60th playoff game (he had a hat trick in that 8-3), a record for the Chiefs, surpassing Derek Schutz (1995-2000). Through 6 games, Koper has 293 games for Spokane, Schutz was in 411 … Matt Marantz's goal 10 seconds into the game was a Spokane record for fastest goal at the start of a game.
For updates on tonight's game, twitter.com/SRtrim
Sven Bartschi scored one goal and assisted on two others as the Portland Winterhawks and Spokane Chiefs returned to form with their fourth one-goal game in the five games of their Western Hockey League playoff seriers.
The Winterhawks took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference finals with a 3-2 win. All three Portland wins have been by one goal.
Only Spokane's 8-3 rout on Friday in Game 4 wasn't close.
The Chiefs took a 1-0 lead 59 seconds in and that held up until Bartschi scored with 33 seconds left in the second. He assisted on two third-period goals but the Chiefs cut it back to one a minute after the Winterhawks final score. Tyler Johnson had Spokane's first goal, Mitch Holmberg had the second.
James Reid made 39 saves for the Chiefs, Mac Carruth had 40 for the Winterhawks. Ty Rattie scored the tie-breaking goal and Craig Cunningham had the game winner.
3 stars: 3, Mac Carruth. 2, Ty Rattie. 1, Sven Bartschi.
Long box below
The Western Hockey League Western Conference finals became a best of three, spread over four days, after the Spokane Chiefs hammered the Portland Winterhawks 8-3 Friday game to tie the best of 7 series 2-2.
Colin Mulvany also prouduced this slideshow, including the Chiefs celebrating their goal 10 seconds into the game.
Levko Koper scored a hat trick and Tyler Johnson and Collin Valcourt each had a goal and two assists.
Game 5 is tonight in Porltand with Game 6 in Spokane on Monday.
3 stars: 3, Darren Kramer. 2, Collin Valcourt. 1, Levko Koper.
Long box below.
Brendan Leipsic socred at7:44 of overtime to lift Portland to a 3-2 win over the Spokane Chiefs at the Arena Wednesday night.
For the third straight game to open the WHL's Western Conference finals the Spokane Chiefs and Portland Winterhawks put on a tense show, with plenty of big saves, like James Reid stopping Ty Rattie in the first period (above).
Game 4 is here Friday with Game 5 back in Portland on Saturday.
Ryan Johansen forced the overtime by scoring with 2:14 left in regulation, his third straight game with a goal and ninth of the playoffs. Levko Koper's goal at 8:40 of the third period had put the Chiefs on top.
The Chiefs made it difficult by going 0-9 on the power play, while Portland was just 0-2.
Spokane scored first with Jared Cowen squeezing a shot past Mac Carruth at 15:07 of the first period but that only lasted 66 seconds before a defensive miscue gave Taylor Peters a breakaway for a short-handed goal.
3 stars: 3, Taylor Peters. 2, Jared Cowen. 1, Brendan Leipsac
The Portland Winterhawks are confident and the Spokane Chiefs know they'll have to bear down for Game 3 of the best-of-7 series. The game is Wednesday night at the Arena. After splitting two games in Portland, the teams will play here again Friday and hustle off to Portland for Game 5 on Saturday. Should the series go the distance, the last four games will be played in five days, with travel after each game.
The Spokane Chiefs had a delayed trip home on Monday after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Portland Winterhawks (Oregonian story) Sunday night. The series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 Wednesday in the Arena. There is also a story from The Portland Tribune.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals is tonight, with Kootenay, at home, leading Medicine Hat 2-0.
As expected the Portland Winterhawks had a lot of jump in the second game of their best-of-7 Western Hockey League playoff series Sunday night after losing the opener of the Western Conference championship 2-1 to the Spokane Chiefs on Friday.
The Hawks took the lead for the first time in the series with a Ryan Johansen power play goal at 7:38 of the second period and that stood up for a 2-1 victory in a game where Spokane had precious few chances.
Game 3 is in Spokane on Wednesday with Game 4 at the Arena on Friday, before the teams return to the Rose Garden next Saturday for Game 5.
3 stars: 3, James Reid, 2, Craig Cunningham, 1 Mac Carruth
Long box below.
Before Easter brunch and a wet slog to the Rose Garden, which might need some beams re-enforced after Trail Blazer fans raised the roof during the NBA comeback yesterday, a short hockey offering.
The Spokane Chiefs expect the Winterhawks to come out flying tonight in Game 2 of the WHL's Western Conference championship after the visitors won the first game 2-1 on Friday. Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune has a lot from the Hawks, who lost the opener last series at home then won three straight, including two in Kelowna.
Marek Kalus (12), who played one game in the first round of the playoffs, and Brady Brassart (15, celebrating above), who hadn't played since the first game of the last series, combined for a goal on their first shift, 2:11 into the game, that kick-started the Spokane Chiefs to a 2-1 win over Portland in the first game of the best of 7 series at the Rose Garden Friday night.
Levko Koper scored a lovely power play goal at 4:25 of the second period - all five Chiefs touched the puck in the 8 seconds after the faceoff - but otherwise it was a dominating defense and James Reid being spectacular in goal.
With that 2-0 lead entering the third period, the Chiefs refused to let up, out-shooting the Winterhawks 17-10 to make it 43-28 for the game. But Portland didn't fold, but they also didn't solve Reid, who made 27 saves. The Winterhakws got on board when they pulled goalie Mac Carruth, Ryan Johansen scoring with 24 seconds left.
Game 2 is here Sunday night.
3 stars: 1, James Reid, 2, Mac Carruth, 3, Jared Cowen
Long box below
The Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans jump into action on Saturday at the Arena. As the game nears, we took a quick look back at their classic 2008 series, which still has a few participants preparing for the next champion.
A disaster of epic proportions for the Spokane Chiefs, starting with a dubious record of allowing five goals in 1:59. With those five goals league-leading
The only silver lining was Tyler Johnson getting a pair of goals early in the second period, giving him a league-leading 41 and tying him for the lead in the scoring race with 88 points. But shortly after that Ty Rattie turned another turnover into a breakaway goal.
Three stars: 3, Craig Cunningham. 2, Ryan Johansen. 1, Brad Ross.
Long box below and six-picture slide show here.
Now we're headed to practice at Avista Stadium for Saturday's outdoor game. The weather forecast is for temperatures in the 40 and rain. Hopefully we'll find out how that is going to impact the game, which is the second of a home-and-home with the Kootenay Ice. Hopefully the teams will bring some real ice back from Friday's game.
In the meantime, some interesting reading on rosters and especially goalies on Alan Caldwell's blog. FYI, James Reid of the Chiefs is facing about the fewest shots of any team in the league. While there, you can use that for a jumping off point to read about the resolution to the bruhaha in Kamloops between the newspaper and the Blazers. What the team and the league were thinking is a mystery to me and certainly foreign becausee I deal with a professionally run organization. Makes me appreciate my working relationship.
The Portland Winterhawks have made a major trade to strengthen their position as the top team in the Western Division. They picked up Craig Cunningham, a 20-year old fixture in Vancover, for a pair of player and two draft picks. The Vancouver Sun story is below. No doubt there will be more reaction to this.
What does it mean for the Spokane Chiefs, the closest team to Portland, thanks to winning the last three matchups between the teams? What should the Chiefs do? Consider this from Gregg Drinnan's blog: From Jim Matheson’s Hockey World, in the Edmonton Journal, “Most scouts feel Team Canada’s No. 1 junior team centre Brayden Schenn won’t be going back to the Brandon Wheat Kings. They’ll trade him to either Saskatoon or Portland, the two best Memorial Cup candidates in the WHL.” Which, no doubt, will be news to the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs, not to mention the Kootenay Ice and Red Deer Rebels. The part about the two best Memorial Cup candidates in the WHL, that is.
The Chiefs resume the Western Hockey League season tonight in Seattle and play the Thunderbirds at home on Wednesday.