The Spokane Chiefs' Western Hockey League regular season is down to six games in the next nine days. Friday's win over Portland should give them high hopes for postseason. Read story
There was a period of nearly two years when the Spokane Chiefs couldn't buy a win against the Portland Winterhawks, including Portland's 4-0 sweep during the second round of the 2013 Western Hockey League playoffs.
That all changed this year as Spokane won its first three games against the Winterhawks. After Spokane's third win over Portland this season, on Jan. 7, the Winterhawks' overall record was 21-18-0-3.
Portland often played without a full roster earlier in the season, as many of its eight drafted players competed in select tournaments. But since Jan. 9, with its roster getting solidified, Portland's record had been 19-2-2-0.
Had been, that is, until Spokane's 5-3 win on Friday. All of Portland's drafted players were in uniform except Alex Schoenborn, so the Chiefs proved that they can stand up to Portland at full strength.
"You can't duplicate what they do," Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur said of the Winterhawks. "They have a hell of a hockey team and they have a lot of skill. ... We just have to play an air-tight game and we can't make a lot of mistakes. And I thought we did that tonight."
"(Nicolas) Petan wasn't there for all the other (Spokane) wins, but, you know what, it doesn't really matter," said Spokane right wing Riley Whittingham, Friday's star with two goals, including the winner. "As long as we're playing our team game, I think we can beat anyone in the league."