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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Chiefs face tough challenge from Everett

After completing the longest road trip of the season, Spokane got the benefit of a full week of practice.

The team will need it Saturday as the Chiefs face one of the hottest teams in the Western Hockey League.

The Everett Silvertips (13-2-2-0) have lost only two games all season that didn’t go to overtime or a shootout.

The Silvertips, who lead the U.S. Division, dropped one of those games the last time they came to the Arena, on Oct. 18.

“They are a good team,” Spokane coach Don Nachbaur said. “They make it hard to play your game, which means they are very competitive.”

The Chiefs (6-6-4-1, 17 points) are now close to full strength after getting back rookie defenseman Ty Smith and forward Koby Morrisseau from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario.

“Ty brings a lot. He can bring the puck up the ice and he has phenomenal vision,” Nachbaur said. “He makes the right play because of that vision.”

The Chiefs need a boost after their most recent power-play opportunities have become more liabilities than having a player advantage on the ice. The team has struggled to coordinate attacks.

As a result, the Chiefs have scored 13 goals in 69 power plays (18.8 percent).

Everett (13-2-2-0, 28 points) isn’t much better, but the Silvertips have scored 16 goals in 75 power plays (21.3 percent).

“They are a very patient team,” Nachbaur said the Silvertips, which are in second place in the Western Conference. “Their power play is winning some games for them.”

Even though he’s a rookie, the team has come to rely on Smith to direct some attacks when the Chiefs have a player advantage.

Smith “helps us compete,” Nachbaur said. “But when you are not winning the battles in the faceoffs or on the boards, you are not going to win many power plays. It comes down to competitiveness.”

Smith, who has been away from the team for three weeks, said he’s looking forward to joining his team Saturday.

“I”m excited,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of good power-play guys. I think they are fine without me. But I’ve just got to try to create some chances to score.”

The Chiefs will host Seattle on Tuesday night. Seattle (7-7-0-1) has struggled, but Mathew Barzal, the first overall pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, was just sent back to the Thunderbirds by the New York Islanders.

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