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Chiefs Johnson Best in four categories

As if we didn't know this already, but Spokane native and Spokane Chiefs star Tyler Johnson is Best of the West.

Johnson was voted Top Defenive Forward, Best Over-Age Player, Best Skater and Best Faceoff man in the Best of the West 2011 poll compiled by the Tri-City Herald and released Sunday morning.

A total of 43 representatives from the 12 Western Hockey League teams in the Western Conference voted in a variety of categories but could not vote for anyone in their own organization.

Besides Johnson, who is having a MVP season, a reason the Chiefs are in the chase with for the top seed in  the fast-approaching playoffs are because captain Jared Cowen was voted Best Stay-at-Home Defenseman and Don Nachbuar Best Coach.

A number of Chiefs were high up in other categories, including goalie James Reid and defenseman Brenden Kichton, plus Johnson and Cowen, along with general manager Tim Speltz.

Chiefs blow past Americans

After giving up an easy early goal, the Chiefs took command with a pair of power play goals and then Tyler Johnson finished with off with a pair of late goals as Spokane dumped Tri-City 7-2 before a sold-out crowd of 10,475 at the Arena Saturday night.

Three stars, 3, Johnson, 2, goalie Mac Engel, 1, Koper.

Portland destroys Chiefs

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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 Portland sent a message on the way to a 10-5 thumping. It was the most goals allowed and the most scored for each.


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.

Kramer gives Chiefs fighting chance

Darren Kramer, 22, is one of the most popular Spokane Chiefs. He is also their protector.  There's also another side to the Western Hockey League leader in fights and penalty minutes.

The team has a big week with U.S. Division and Western Conference leading Portland coming in Wednesday and rival Tri-City, just a point behind the second-place Chiefs, here Saturday. On Friday the Chiefs are at Everett and beginning Sunday play five games in eight days on the road.

Last weekend they lost in Tri-City 5-2, with Tyler Johnson's point streak ending, before rebounding to win 5-1 at Seattle, with Johnson getting three points to sit one-point back in the league scoring race.

Chiefs have chance for rest, practice

Good Monday morning Chiefs fans … recovered from that wild 5-4 loss to Tri-City Saturday night? (Above, in a Dan Pelle photo, Drew Owsley stops Anthony Bardaro's shot.)Those nail-biting, last second games are killer on deadline, especially Saturdays when deadlines are a little earlier. But we got the Chiefs, but missed the Americans, although  the Tri-City Herald took a call from the coach for a story and my ol' compadre Rene Ferran has this from the Americans. As an added bonus, columnist John Blanchette took a look at what makes the Chiefs tick. The Chiefs finally get some rest and practice time. They don't play until Friday at Tri-City with a Saturday game in Seattle.  Then the schedule gets ugly again for the stretch run.

Americans shock Chiefs with late goal

Mason Wilgosh was sitting on the doorstep for a tip-in with 37 seconds left to give the Tri-City Americans a wild 5-4 win over the Spokane Chiefs before a sell-out crowd of 10,474 fans at the Arena Saturday night.

It's the first of five straight weekend games for these rivals who are hot on the heels of Portland in the tight U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League. The Americans moved to within three points of second-place Spokane and have played 3 fewer games.

 Stars 3 Wilgosh, 2 Hughesman, 1 Kuhn. Long box below. Here is the story.

Chiefs stand tough to beat Chilliwack

It wouldn't qualify as a good hockey game but the Spokane Chiefs didn't back down from the physical and chippy play Chilliwack Bruins, who were in their face all night.

But after battling even in a 2-2 first period with goals from Steve Kuhn and Brenden Kichton and holding steady to take a 4-3 lead after two on goals by Darren Kramer and Matt Marantz, the Chiefs took control in the third period for a 5-3 win, the last goal coming on on Tyler Johnson's career-high and league-leading 37th that tied him for the scoring lead in the Western Hockey League with 82 points.

Mac Engel made 20 saves for his second win in a row.

3 stars: 3, Marantz, 2, Krame 1, Kuhn.  long box below

Stretch run brings memories for Chiefs

Patrick King of Toronoto City News checks in with the Spokane Chiefs, pointing out the last players for the 2008 Memorial Cup team, are nearing the end of their junior hockey careers. Meanwhile, as Annie Fowler of The Tri-City Herald points out, things are heating up in  the U.S. Division of the Western Conference in the Western Hockey League. The Spokane Chiefs entertain Chilliwack tonight and Tri-City on Saturday. Here's a tidbit for you … the Chiefs and Americans play every weekend for five straight weeks, every two weeks in Spokane, next Friday and then two weeks later on a Saturday in Kennewick.

Update: Spokane Chiefs forward Tyler Johnson is on the WHL radio show.

Chiefs give Engel win and shutout

The Spokane Chiefs got goals from Matt Marantz and Jared Cowen less than a minute apart early in the second period and Mac Engle made that stand up for his first Western Hockey League win. Levko Koper added an empty net goal to complete the 3-0 win over Everett. Tyler Johnson, who assisted Koper, ran his point streak to 15 games.

Stars, 3, Cowen, 2, Engle, 1, Marantz. Long box below, here is the story.

In photo above, Chiefs Steven Kuhn and Brady Brassart (right) battle Everett defenders Rasmus Rissanen (8) and Ryan Murray (27) along with goalie Kent Simpson.

Engel to start in goal for Chiefs

With James Reid out with a sprained ankle, Mac Engel gets the start in net tonight for the Spokane Chiefs.

WHL recognizes Chiefs’ Johnson

Want a Tyler Johnson tripleheader and another mention of Spokane Chiefs' scoring leader? Go to the Western Hockey League website.

Despite two losses, including in Portland Sunday night, the Chiefs have the WHL Player of the Week, Tyler Johnson, who was the Player of the Month for December. His mug shot is on the WHL home page twice, once for each award.

Johnson had 10 points in four games last week, pulling him into a tie in the league scoring race, which earns him another mug shot. He has matched his career high with a league-leading 36 goals as part of his career high 79 points.

The WHL is also running a poll, asking who among the league leaders, is likely to lead the league in goals when all is said and done. Johnson is second in the voting behind Brendan Gallagher of Vancouver. Johnson has a 14-game point streak with 13 goals and 16 assists.

Chiefs home streak ends in 5-3 loss

For the first time since before Santa Claus made his rounds the Spokane Chiefs lost at home.

In fact, Halloween candy hadn't even been dished out the last time the Spokaen Chiefs lost at home in regulation.

It happened again on Saturday night when the Kelowna Rockets out-hustled the Spokane Chiefs for a 5-3 win at the Arena.

Brett Bulmer scored his second goal with 3:32 left, racing around the Chiefs to beat Mac Engle and the streaks were over, after an empty net goal with 40 seconds left.

While Engle remained winless despite facing just 15 shots, the suffered their first Arena loss since falling to Seattle  5-4 in overtime Dec. 15 and failed to pick up a home point for the first time since Red Deer won 4-2 on Oct. 23.

Three stars: 1, Bulmer, 2, Levko Koper, 3, Kelowna goalie Adam Brown. Long box below.

Chiefs pull out 5-2 win

The Spokane Chiefs scored the last three goals to defeat the Kootenay Ice 5-2. Dominik Uher had two goals and an assist to earn first star, Tyler Johnson (above) had a goal and two assists for the second star and trade deadline pickup Cody Eakin, in his first game for the Ice, was third star. His goal in the first minute of the third period tied the game 2-2.

Reid, Johnson set records in win

The Spokane Chiefs rolled at Chilliwack Tuesday night, smacking the Bruins 6-1, in a record-breaking romp.

I'll get to the records in a moment. The Chiefs have won three straight since a 6-2 loss at Kootenay last Friday, which they avenged with an 11-2 romp over the Ice Saturday in the outdoor game. Now the teams collide Friday indoors at the Arena - you don't suppose the Ice will be hot.

 The Chiefs last lost at the Arena on Dec. 15, in OT. The last time they lost in regulation at home Oct. 23, 4-2 to Red Deer.

Chiefs atop standings, Reid ties record

Don't look now but the Spokane Chiefs are in first place in the U.S. Division of the Western Hockey League. Well, they're tied with the Portland Winterhawks, but the Chiefs have played two fewer games in addition to having the head-to-head tiebreaker. I don't have the information at my fingertips and my memory isn't what it used to be, but I know it wasn't that long ago they were double-figure points behind and it may have been pretty darn close to 20 points back.

The Chiefs, who should have been exhausted, jumped on the Everett Silvertips early on Sunday for a 4-1 win, which was also the 77th career win for goalie James Reid (above), tying him with Dustin Tokarski for the most in team history. Read on.

Fresh air and hockey

Wrapping up theSpokane Chiefs outdoor hockey game … it seemed everyone enjoyed the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic, according to columnist John Blanchette, and the Chiefs made it better with an 11-2 thrashing of the Kootenay Ice at Avista Stadium … with Jesse Tinsley providing the pictures.

Chiefs rock in outdoor game

The Rockstar Outdoor Classic was a wild success off and on the ice for the Spokane Chiefs.

Not so much for the Kooteany Ice.

The first-ever Western Hockey League game to be played outdoors, before a standing room only crowd of 7,075 at Avista Stadium, was an 11-2 romp by the home team, just hours after the Ice had registered a 6-2 in in Cranbrook, B.C., to start this little home-and-home showtown between two of the best teams in the league.

Next Friday's game in Spokane should be a dandy game.

The three stars were all Chiefs, 1, Steve Kuhn (goal, 2 assists); 2, Tyler Vanscourt (2 goals) , 3, Blake Gal (2 goals, assist).

Saturday has to be better than Friday for Chiefs

On this beautiful spring morning all thoughts turn to an outdoor hockey game.

Of course it's a little hard to get in the spirit of an outdoor hockey game when the biggest concern is how it's going to turn out with the suddenly balmy weather.

Things started to go south for the Chiefs on Friday, when they went to Cranbrook and the Kootenay Ice handled them 6-2 to end their seven-game winning streak. Their power play was below snuff with a 1-6 performance and the league-leading penalty killers gave up three goals in six chances. Then there were the fights. The complete run-down is here, including why the game started an hour late.

The teams meet again today at 1 at Avista Stadium. There will be no tweeting or blogging from the game because we won't be taking our computer but will make a quick post as soon as we can after the game.

Excitement builds for outdoor hockey game

The Spokane Chiefs are excited to play in history outdoor game on Saturday. Thursday's practice only got them more fired up ((photo courtesy of Gary Peterson/Action Sports Images/Spokane Chiefs).

Rain or snow, outdoor hockey game is a spectacle

Who wouldn't be worried about an outdoor hockey game in this weather? After a day in the 40's with plenty of rain, it only cools off to the high 30's tonight, with a high on Saturday for the Spokane Chiefs game with Kootenay at Avista Stadium, of about 41, although the chance of rain tapers off.

Columnist John Blanchette takes a look at the spectacle.

First, the two teams meet tonight in Cranbrook. The Ice were big-time buyers at Monday's Western Hockey League trade deadline and Jeff Bromley's blog takes a look at their blockbuster. … The Ice also have to do a little bit of extra packing for the trip down here on Saturday. Kootenay players are looking forward to the game.

Chiefs almost giddy for outdoor game

It's only fitting that Bobby Brett, owner of the Spokane Indians baseball team and Spokane Chiefs hockey team, threw out the first pitch at Avista Stadium on a warm winter Thursday afternoon.

The big thing is that Darren Kramer, using his stick as a baseball bat, was on the other end, trying to hit Brett's snowball.

The Chiefs were waiting to take the ice for practice in preparation of Saturday's Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic (photo above courtesy of the Western Hockey League and Gary Peterson/Action Sports Images/Spokane Chiefs) and they were obvoiusly excited. Like baseball players, some applied eye black to help reduce the glare of the sun and a handful of them got a little carried away. Like Kramer, who gave himself a full beard. And Levko Koper, who had a van dyke, Brady Brassart with a handlebar mustache and Collin Valcourt with a fu manchu. And goalies James Reid and Mac Engle had stocking caps tied to the top of their masks.

As practice went on, some playes were shielding their eyes against the sun. In the first post-practice competition, the team that had the wind at its back won easily. Does that mean Saturday's coinflip is going to play a critical role in the outcome?

Everybody, from Brett, to team officials, WHL officials, sponors and arena works scurrying to get the last piece of plexiglass in place, was savoring the moment, along with some fans who turned out to watch.

One parent said, "What a spectacle. This is putting the Chiefs on the map."

Chiefs closing in on Portland

The Spokane Chiefs picked up a big win Wednesday night in Portland, pulling within two points of the league-leading Winterhawks.

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.

Rain, rain stay away

Did I just hear that? A weather update on a local sports radio station said things are looking good for the outdoor hockey game, it's supposed to rian on Saturday.

Not sure that is so good but who can't be excited the game with the weather we're having now?

Of course the heavy snow wouldn't be too nice for a fast-paced hockey game. Fear not, the weather forecast now says the low Friday night is 40 after a day of showers and the high on Saturday with 42 with a chance of showers.

Update: Ground rules have been made for the game, appropriated at the ball park, right? One includes an official game if they reach the bottom of the seventh - or end of the second period.

Weather warming for outdoor hockey game

The Spokane Chiefs stayed on the sideline as the Western Hockey League trade deadline passed on Monday.

The question is how that affects the team, which is the hottest in the league right now. No deal means the continue has to continue to succeed with hard work and chemistry, but will that be enough to stay keep up with Portland and Tri-City, which made deals? How about staying ahead of Seattle and Everett? The other team that can affect the Chiefs is Kootenay because the teams meet three times in eight days, beginning Friday and including Saturday's outdoor game at Avista Stadium. More on trades from the Gregg Drinnan and Alan Caldwell blogs.

And speaking of the outdoor game, four days away, here's the forecast: It's not supposed to be below freezing from Thursday on with the low on Friday night 41 degrees and the high on Saturday 42, which I assume means the snow/rain showers means rain.

No moves for Chiefs


The Western Hockey League trade deadline passed Monday afternoon and the Spokane Chiefs didn't make a move, except to reassign defenseman Kyle Krzyzaniak, who was  a minus-2 in seven games with seven penalty minutes, to the Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. 

There were a couple of blockbuster deals in the las couple of day. The one the will have the most immediate impact on the Spokane Chiefs was the Kootenay Ice getting Cody Eakin from Swift Current. That's because The Chief and Ice play three times in eight days, including Saturday  in the outdoor game at Avista  Stadium. About 500 tickets remain for that game.

Weather channel forecast for Saturday: Cold until the end of the week, then above freezing, Saturday's previous cold temperatures and snow, now 37 degrees, rain and snow showers.

Chiefs edge Everett 4-2

Tyler Johnson reaches 30 goals with an empty netter with 2.9 seconds left to ice the Spokane Chiefs' 4-2 win over Everett Saturday night. Johnson also set up Levko Koper's short-handed goal to open the scoring in the second period and then scored a power play goal. Brenden Kichton had three assists. Brady Brassart's goal midway through the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Long box below. The 3 stars are 3, Kichton, 2, Brassart, 1, Johnson. Next home game is Saturday, the WHL-first outdoor game at Avista Stadium. With their sixth-straight win the Chiefs remain two points behind Portland in the U.S. Division. Here is the story.

Chiefs tame Hurricanes

The Spokane Chiefs have made their run up the standings in the Western Hockey League by throwing pucks at the opposition's net until they crack. They're out-shooting teams by more than 11 shots a game. Not all of those are good shots, but without shots, nothing happens.

The Chiefs had two shots in the first period Friday. They scored early in the second on a pass, not a shot. They coach Don Nachbaur made mixed up the forward lines. The result was two periods with 15 shots each a 6-0 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, James Reid getting his fourth shutout with 21 saves.

"I thought we turend the puck over uncharasticlly tonight far too often. trying to be too fancy, not pulling the trigger when we should have, looking to make plays," Nachbaur said. "But I thought we turned it around in the third, we had a pretty good third period."

The long box is below. The three stars were 3, Kenton Miller, 2, Reid, 1, Dominik Uher. The Chiefs play Everett tonight at home.

WHL trade deadline looming

Circumstances kept me from providing you Spokane Chief fans the story that ran in the Friday morning paper in advance of tonight's game with Lethbridge and Saturday's visit from Everett. The question is, with the Chiefs playing so well, do they make a move before Monday afternoon's trade deadline? The headline says "Chiefs figure to stand pat." The part that was cut from the end of the story said: "So the probably that the rebuilding Chiefs would be sellers, maybe moving Cowen to strengthen the foundation for the future as once thought, though still possible seems more and more unlikely. No doubt general manager Tim Speltz is talking to a lot of contemporaries, but what do the Chiefs need? More importantly what does the coach/chemist want and who would he be willing to give up?"  I imagine time will really drag for the players until 2 p.m. on Monday. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, the Chiefs announced the broadcast plans for the outdoor game,w hich is just a week away.

Johnson honored by WHL

Spokane native Tyler Johnson is the Western Hockey League Player of the Month for December. The Spokane Chiefs center, tied for second in the league in scoring, had  11 goals and 11 assists in 12 games.

Cowen to play for gold

Spokane Chiefs captain Jared Cowen will play for a gold medal as Team Canada whipped Team USA 4-1 at World Junior Tournament in Buffalo. Team Canada plays Russia on Wednesday.