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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Chiefs’ veterans lead team to top

The question put to Spokane Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur was: "How long can Mitch Holmberg, Mike Aviani and Eric Williams play at this level?" The Chiefs' 20-year-olds are Western Hockey League statistical leaders as the season reaches the one-month mark. "All year," Nachbaur said, which should bode well for a Chiefs team ranked No. 3 in this week's Canadian Hockey League Top 10 poll. Read story

Nachbaur further explained why he thinks Holmberg, Aviani and Williams are not going to drastically cool off for significant stretches.

"Our leaders are committed to the team and, you know what, they’ve come up with big plays all year," he said. "We know there are going to be nights and phases during the year where they cool off, so other guys are going to have to pick up the pace, but for now, we’re riding on their coattails."

Holmberg often takes a matter-of-fact stance toward his remarkable early season.

"I think that (scoring) just happens in a game," he said. "You don’t really focus on that off the ice. Obviously, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep that one going, but it’s not something I’ll go and look into at home. It’s just something that kind of happens."

Aviani speaks in much the same way.

"I think we have a really good group of guys in there," he said. "We really play well together and we’ve definitely been blessed so far."

Before the season started, Nachbaur considered the Chiefs' early schedule, with eight of their first 10 games on the road, and thought it might be the ideal situation for the team to come together. Sometimes there are too many fans to woo at home games, he said.

"You can get at home and try to impress," Nachbaur said. "We went on the road without any pressure, trying to play as a group. We won some games 2-1, 3-2 and it helped us realize (how to) play without the puck and the commitment we needed to win."

Up next for Spokane is Friday's home game with Everett. The Silvertips are leading the conference in fewest goals allowed (20). The Chiefs scored just one goal at Everett on Oct. 5, but it was enough to win in overtime.

Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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