Wed., Jan. 7, 2015
Chiefs no longer wilt against Winterhawks
The Spokane Chiefs are 3-0 this WHL season against the Portland Winterhawks, their former biggest obstacle. Read story
Once upon a time, the Portland Winterhawks posted 16 consecutive victories against the Chiefs. That streak ended on Dec. 12 in Portland, and the Chiefs have won the two games since.
Some people might argue that the Winterhawks aren't playing at full strength, and there's some truth to that. Portland has six players on its roster who have been drafted by NHL teams, and those players get selected to play in elite tournaments during the WHL season. For example, Portland played Wednesday without Nicolas Petan (Winnipeg, second round 2013) and Keegan Iverson (New York Rangers, third round 2014).
But as Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur pointed out, Spokane was also short four players because of injuries, including three forwards. Calder Brooks, the team's No. 2 scorer, is listed as "TBD" with an upper-body injury.
"We’re all beat up," Nachbaur said. "We have guys injured. We have three centers out of our lineup and we have wingers playing in the middle right now. That’s not easy to make that adjustment. Tip of the hat to the guys. We played hard and played a good-structured game and we got the good results."
Nachbaur said Western Conference and U.S. Division rivals have bolstered their lineups with trades in the last few days. The trade deadline is Saturday.
Nevertheless, Spokane stands in second place in the division, now two points ahead of Portland, and sports a gaudy record of 13-5-2-0 against division rivals.
"Portland just made a lot of trades to try to upgrade their team," Nachbaur said. "(First-place) Everett’s a good team. There are no easy games, I know that. ... Everybody's getting better at the trade deadline."