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Chiefs face Prince Albert

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.

Matt Marantz, the odd-man out in the Chiefs 20-year old cutdown, was traded again, Lethbridge to Regina.

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).

Tyler Johnson scores in pro debut

UPDATE, 7 p.m. Tyler Johnson scores again, adds an assist and is the second star again as Norfolk wins again.

The Spokane Chiefs are going to play their second home game of the Western Hockey League season in about an hour, Kelowna Rockets are in the house, but first there is a bunch of news to catch you up on.

First, congratulations to former Chiefs star and Central Valley graduate Tyler Johnson for scoring a goal in his first professional game. He was second star of the game after former Tri-City American Carter Ashton, who had two goals, including the OT game-winner. … Ex-Chief Dustin Tokarski was in goal.

The NHL debut of former Chiefs captain Jared Cowen (OK, he played a late-season game two years ago after he was drafted and picked up a penalty, now he's part of the rebuilding programs) didn't go so well as the Detroit Red Wings clobbered the visiting Ottawa Senators. Despite the score, Cowen was only a minus-1. The Sens play the Toronto Maple Leafs as we speak.  (Cowen wears No. 2 when you get a rare chance to see Ottawa on the tube.)

On Friday the Chiefs fell 6-4 at Kamloops, a game that saw them in a big hole before a comeback. It's not really a good sign when Darren Kramer and two young D-men have the goals. However, captain Kramer has four goals in 3 games.

Defenseman Tyler Vanscourt, traded for goalie Luke Lee-Knight last month, had a hat trick for Prince Albert last night.

Plenty of positives for Spokane Chiefs

Without a Memorial Cup championship the hockey season finishes in disappointment but there was nothing disappointing about the Spokane Chiefs' season, above, in a Colin Mulvany photo, celebrating an overtime win against the Tri-City Americans.

Nachbaur, Johnson honored by WHL

Spokane Chiefs Don Nachbaur completed a triple play and Tyler Johnson was recognized as a class act when the Western Hockey League handed out its major awards in Calgary on Wednesday.


Nachbaur received the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the Coach of the Year for the third time – each with a difference team.


Johnson picked up the Brad Hornung Trophy for the Most Sportsmanlike Player.


Johnson was also runner-up for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, which goes to the Player of the Year. That went to Red Deer goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was a third-round draft pick of the Spokane Chiefs in the 2005 Bantam Draft, the same year they took Johnson in the 11th round. The 2011 Bantam Draft is Thursday.


(More below and hopefully an update later when Nachbaur and Johnson return from the awards luncheon in Calgary.)

Chiefs lose Johnson for 1 game

The Spokane Chiefs will open the Western Conference finals at Portland Friday night without leading scorer Tyler Johnson as he serves a one-game suspension, the Western Hockey League announced Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit with Brendan Shinniman of Tri-Cities on Tuesday night. The Americans, leading 1-0 at that point, scored on the power play and took a 3-0 lead into the third period.

The Chiefs rallied for four straight goals and eventually won the game 5-4 in overtime to win the best-of-7 series 4-2.  Here is our story, the story from The Tri-City Herald and columnist John Blanchette's take.

"That’s as good of victory as I’ve been involved in in junior hockey," said Spokane coach Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player, who is coaching is in his 13th season coaching in the league. "Being three goals down and coming back against a good team like that is a testament to their character."

The Chiefs won the last two games of their first-round series with Chilliwack without Johnson, who had 115 points and led the league with 53 goals, when he was injured in Game 3.

Meanwhile, the WHL made it official, Chilliwack is relocating to Victoria.

Former Chief gets lucky

Before I start this Spokane Chiefs post, I want to pass this along … former Chiefs goalie Dustin Tokarski, (pictured above) playing for Tampa Bay's AHL team in Norfolk, Va., was taken out of a game Saturday after getting cut in the neck with a skate. It required 30 stitches and Tokarski and a teammate posted the pix on Twitter. (While on the Bolt Prospects page, check down the right side to see where Tyler Johnson is among the Lightning prospects before he plays a professional game.)

The Chiefs play Tri-City in a rare 2-3-2 series. The usual scheduling is because both buildings are full next weekend. The Chiefs lost this Friday to Elton John. The teams stretched the 3 out in Tri just for pacing (and I think they want me to drive a lot) because next weekend there is an Amway Convention in the Arena and a two-day youth wrestling tournament in the Toyota Center.

So, since the first game isn't until Saturday, our stories won't begin until later in the week, giving me an opportunity to catch up on my other duties.



Saturday, April 9th

at Spokane



Sunday, April 10th

at Spokane



Tuesday, April 12th

at Tri-City



Thursday, April 14th

at Tri-City



Sunday, April 17th

at Tri-City



Tuesday, April 19th

at Spokane



Wednesday, April 20th

at Spokane


Chiefs dominate conference awards

The Spokane Chiefs dominated the Western Conference awards the Western Hockey League announced on Wednesday. Read on.

Chiefs No. 3 seed, opponent unknown

The Spokane Chiefs' 6-4 loss at Tri-City on Saturday night answered a few questions and left a few hanging.

The Chiefs are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference when the Western Hockey League playoffs start in a few days. Who they'll play will be determined do as they're slotted against the only spot still undecided.

On an individual level, Spokane's Tyler Johnson has wrapped up the goal scoring title but with a final game in Portland tonight will have a shot at the overall scoring championship.

Read on.

Johnson reaches 50 goals, Chiefs roll

A couple of milestones and a thrashing of the Tri-City Americans, it doesn't get much better than that for the Spokane Chiefs … and we have pictures.

With Tyler Johnson and Blake Gal (10, above in Colin Mulvany photo) scoring a pair of goals, the Chiefs pounded Tri-City 5-1 before a crowd of more than 9,000 at the Arena Friday night.

Johnson picked up his league-leading 50th goal, while Gal and Anthony Bardaro both reached 20.

Better yet, the Chiefs are now 10 points ahead of the Americans with five games to play in the Western Hockey League season. That means no looking over their shoulder down the stretch to worry about beind the fourth seed in the Western Division but they can concentrate on Portland, one point ahead for the top seed.

Before the Spokane Chiefs honored the 3 20-year olds,  Johnson (check out this internet story), Levko Koper and James Reid. Also, former Chief and Spokane native Derek Ryan was league MVP for University of Alberta.

Long box below, 3 stars: 3, Gal, 2, Baldwin (3 assists), 1 Johnson.

Johnson officially signs with Tampa Bay

The only Tuesday night home game of the season awaits the Spokane Chiefs, which probably means there will be a sparse crowd on hand to give Tyler Johnson a hand for his big news, signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the weekend.

Everett will be without goalie Kent Simpson tonight because of a sprained ankle. Simpson had turned into the Silvertips ironman recently.

By the way, next year's Subway Series against the Russians will be played in Regina and Moose Jaw. The games are in the middle of November.

Johnson commits to Tampa Bay Lightning

Although it won't become official until all the paper work is signed - Spokane's Spokane Chief Tyler Johnson is about to sign a professional contract. Johnson has accepted an offer from Tampa Bay. He'll sign on Sunday when the Chiefs get back from their trek to Prince George. Spokane won 5-4 on Friday night with Johnson notching his league-leading 47th goal. The teams meet again tonight.

Johnson gets 100, Bardaro hatter as Chiefs roll PG 8-0

Tyler Johnson reached a historic milestone and took over the Western Hockey League scoring lead, Anthony Bardaro had his first hat trick and Mac Engle his third shutout as the Spokane Chiefs coasted past Prince George 8-0 before 8,022 fans at the Arena Friday night.

Johnson's 100th point came on Brenden Kichton's goal at 8:11 of the second period. He added two more power play assists and had his league-best 46th goal.

Barardo had the first goal just 1:55 into the game and later added two power play makers as the league's best power play team went 4 of 7. Also, the league's best penalty killing unit killed off all six Cougar man advantages.

Steve Kuhn also scored for the Chiefs. Engle only had to make 16 saves for his third shutout of the season.

Long box below. Here is the story.

3-stars: D Tanner Mort, Johnson & Bardaro.

Lot on line for Johnson, Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs come off a successful 10 days of road games in first place in the Western Division of the Western Hockey League. While they try to keep the momentum going at home, local product Tyler Johnson nears a milestone with a chance to win the scoring title. With just 8 home games left before the playoffs, time is running out to see the Central Valley graduate in this chase. The Chiefs play Seattle tonight, with Prince George coming in on Friday and Tri-City on Saturday, which is Pink night for breast cancer awareness. (Also, former Chief Jared Spurgeon scored his first NHL goal last night … considering he was playing in Spokane last year as an unsigned 20-year old, it's a great story.)

Johnson & Vandersloot worth a ticket before it’s too late

Crusing across the state on a beautiful Sunday with great tunes, idle minds wandered.

A few years back, as my assignments were changed, I was thinking it would be tough to duplicate my last four seasons of covering Eastern Washington.

First it was football, quarterbacked by Erik Meyer, whose great run ended with the Walt Payton Award in Cheney. Then it was Rodney Stuckey in basketball, whose talents got him selected 15th in the NBA draft despite a lack of team success (and some disfunction that made it easy to move on).

I thought I might not witness first-hand a run like that for a while and it wasn't until recently I realized that I already was in the midst of a similar but different situation and today I decided if I didn't tell you, you might miss it because it's almost over. Read on.

Key win for Chiefs at Tri-City

The Spokane Chiefs won for the first time this season at Tri-City on Saturday. Their reward, another game at the Toyota Center on Monday. With two goals and an assist, Tyler Johnson is a point out of the Western Hockey League scoring lead and a hattrick of points from a century. That makes the three games that follow at home more interesting, the third coming Saturday night against the Americans. Levko Koper and Brenden Kichton also remain hot. Goalie James Reid should be about ready to play.

Chiefs romp on road

The Spokane Chiefs crushed Everett Wednesday night with a dominating performance, highlighted by Levko Koper's second hat trick of the  season. Suprisingly, linemate Tyler Johnson only picked up one assist to drop to second to fall to second in the Western Hockey League scoring race. Jared Cowen was an amazing plus-6 in the 7-2 romp. The Chiefs have three more road games, keep an ear to the radio for the return of goalie James Reid, who was dressed as the backup, but it's obvious that Mac Engel is coming around as a solid backup with his 11 straight starts.

For a great review of former Chief Jared Spurgeon, a rookie with the Minnesota Wild, read on.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Johnson hattrick keys Chiefs romp

Tyler Johnson scored his third career hat trick and moved into second in the Western Hockey League scoring race (both goals and points) to highlight the Spokane Chiefs 8-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds before 5,816 fans at the Arena Wednesday night. (The long box is below, it took a while to sort out the late penalties, had to wait until after deadline.)

The T-Birds, shut out by the Chiefs in Seattle 2-0 the previous night, struck first, just 2:19 into the game. It took the Chiefs until 18:28 to tie it and then they scored five goals in the second while out-shooting Seattle 22-4. Johnson scored three in the second.

Three stars 1, Tyler Johnson   2, Tanner Mort   3, Steve Kuhn . Back in about an hour with the game story.

Johnson hattrick keys Chiefs romp

Tyler Johnson scored his third career hat trick and moved into second in the Western Hockey League scoring race (both goals and points) to highlight the Spokane Chiefs 8-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds before 5,816 fans at the Arena Wednesday night.

The T-Birds, shut out by the Chiefs in Seattle 2-0 the previous night, struck first, just 2:19 into the game. It took the Chiefs until 18:28 to tie it and then they scored five goals in the second while out-shooting Seattle 22-4. Johnson scored three in the second.

Three stars 1, Tyler Johnson   2, Tanner Mort   3, Steve Kuhn . Back in about an hour with the game story.

Chiefs hot on offense and defense

I knew the Spokane Chiefs were hot, a 10-5 win over Kamloops ran their winning streak to five and before that they handled league-leading Portland 9-3. But I didn’t know they were quite that hot. Keep

Chiefs rout Kamloops again

Spokane Chiefs, behind Dominik Uher’s hat trick and six points from acting captain Tyler Johnson, beat Kamloops 10-5. It’s the second straight trip to Spokane the Blazers give up 10. Uher and Johnson were the first two stars, Brady Gaudet, a 16-year old D-man for Kamloops, who had a hat trick in the second period, was the third star. Here is the game story, long box is below.

Chiefs top Hat in OT

Anthony Bardaro scores a power play goal at 3:12 of overtime to give the Spokane Chiefs a 3-2 win over Medicine Hat. Bardaro got third star, Tigers goalie Tyler Bunz, who made 34 saves, was second and Tyler Johnson, with two goals, was first star.But all in all the Chiefs were fortunate, and they know it. Complete box below. Story here.

Chiefs pull out win

The Spokane Chiefs didn’t have the same intensity they had one their successful Eastern Division swing but they beat the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-3 Friday night. Don Nachbaur wasn’t exactly pleased with his Western Hockey League team but he wasn’t surprised  - and he was definitely glad to get the two points, thanks to goalie James Reid and a couple goals from Tyler Johnson. The story is here.

‘Roadkill’ describes Chiefs’ big win

The Regina Leader Post doesn’t have the stories posted from the Chiefs’ 11-1 drubbing of the Regina Pats but reporter Greg Harder shared his stories with us - one on the game, the other on Tyler Johnson’s return to Saskatchewan, a golden memory fo him. They’re on the extended entry.