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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Struggling Chiefs lose again

The Spokane Chiefs lost to Portland again, 4-3, in a game delayed several hours by the snowstorm that hit Portland. According to the Winterhawks blog, there was some game-end incidents that could cost Kyle Beach a game, which would be Thursday night in Tri-City. Just what the short-handed Chiefs need. Though we're in no position to comment ... no, I won't say anything. There was also a game-ending linebrawl in Spokane on Sunday with many of the same participants. Nothing is up on the WHL site about suspensions but you can check back later.

By the way, Tuesday's Chiefs' game marked the halfway point of the season and the team seems to be going in the wrong direction. Are you worried? What's wrong with the Chiefs? What do they have to do to right the ship? Keep reading for some more information.

The Chiefs hit 36 games with 45 points, third in the U.S. Division, fourth in the Western Conference, but with four straight losses and five in six games.

They are four points behind second-place Portland but have played four less games. They have faded to 11 points behind Tri-City and just four ahead of Everett and those two teams have played just one more game than Spokane.

It's been hard to judge the Chiefs, who had a slow start because of injuries on defense, and have struggled of late because so many folks are away at tournaments. The awesome November run gives a sense that the Chiefs will be fine at full strength. When they play like that, it's easy to believe they can make a run in the postseason but so many of those games were close you can't shake the feeling they need a little more offense.

James Reid is the league's top goalie but with defensemen missing his GAA is crept up the last four games.

Despite saying lines should be settled well before now, there has never been a sense the coaching staff has settled on any combinations. Is it chicken or egg - is the lack of consistency the reason or cause of the constant shuffling?

The short-handed Chiefs have to play at Tri-City (56 points), Vancover (50) and Seattle before returning home next Tuesday to play Saskatoon (52 points, tied for the East Division lead, tied for second in the Eastern Conference). That's the day Jared Cowen should be playing for goal at the World Juniors, maybe against Johnson's team (?) so the team probably won't be at full strength until Chilliwack visits on the 8th.

So how do you see the second half playing out?

As you know, the Chiefs have added a youngster, Reid Gow, to their depleted roster. There are a few other notes as well, including the U-17 challenge involving Mitch Holmberg and Brady Brassart.

Spokane's Tyler Johnson was named Team USA's player of the game in Tuesday's win at the World Juniors. The Americans have a showdown with Canada on Thursday that should be worth watching.

It didn't take long for Tri-Cities new Russian goalie to make an impact.

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.