|League||Western Hockey League|
|Home arena||Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena|
Red, white and blue |
|General manager||Scott Carter|
|Head coach||Dan Lambert|
1991, 2008 Memorial Cup Champions|
1991, 2008 WHL Champions
The Spokane Chiefs are a major junior ice hockey team that plays in the Western Hockey League based out of Spokane, Washington. The team plays its home games at the Spokane Arena. Their uniforms are similar to those of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. Spokane consistently ranks in the top 10 in the Canadian Hockey League in attendance. The Chiefs won the Memorial Cup in 1991 and 2008. They also hosted the first-ever outdoor hockey game in WHL history, on January 15, 2011, at Avista Stadium versus the Kootenay Ice.
- 1 History
- 2 Outdoor hockey game
- 3 Players
- 4 Club records
- 5 Season-by-season record
- 6 WHL Championship history
- 7 Memorial Cup finals history
- 8 Executives
- 9 Radio and television coverage
- 10 Arenas
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The Spokane Chiefs was also the name of the hockey team that played in the Western International Hockey League from 1982 to 1985. In their final year the Chiefs were the regular-season champions of the WIHL.
The current franchise was granted in 1982 to Kelowna, British Columbia as the Kelowna Wings. In 1985, the team relocated to Spokane, Washington and became the Chiefs. Before the Spokane Chiefs, there was another WHL franchise in Spokane, the Spokane Flyers, which played between 1980–1982.
The Chiefs won the WHL and CHL Memorial Cup championships in 1991 and 2008. In addition, they have won two division titles and four Western Conference championships. The Chiefs and Portland Winter Hawks are the only United States based teams to win the Memorial Cup. The Chiefs were also the first team in the history of the Western Hockey League to come back from an 0–3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, which they did against the Portland Winter Hawks in 1996; the feat has happened only one other time, when the Kelowna Rockets came back from an 0-3 deficit to defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2013.
The 1991 Memorial Cup team included future NHL players: Ray Whitney, Pat Falloon, Trevor Kidd, Jon Klemm, and Scott Bailey. This team of future NHL'ers blew through the Memorial Cup Tournament, scoring a goal in the first couple of minutes of virtually every game.
The Chiefs' move to the new Spokane Arena in 1995 proved to be good luck. Along with being called the gem of the Western Hockey League, the Arena hosted many memorable events in the first year and saw the Chiefs win 50 games and advance to the WHL finals, only to lose in five games to the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Just two years later, the Chiefs hosted the 1998 Memorial Cup, setting an attendance record at the time. In the 1999–00 season head coach Mike Babcock led the team from a last place finish the previous year to a first place, 47 win season. The Chiefs advanced to play the Kootenay Ice in the WHL finals, but lost in six games.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Chiefs struggled to find an identity. The organization went through three head coaches in five years: Perry Ganchar (resigned), Al Conroy (fired) and Bill Peters. Still Spokane fans, known for their robust support, continued to turn out. The Chiefs consistently average 6,000–7,000 fans per game, one of the top figures in the Western and Canadian Hockey Leagues. The Chiefs are also known for a goal celebration often called the 'best in junior hockey.'  In 1999, the fans were named the best in the WHL. On Saturday nights, often referred to as 'Hockey Night in Spokane', the Spokane Arena is generally sold out, and sellouts are expected when the Tri-City Americans come to town.
The 2007–08 season produced the most wins by a Spokane Chiefs team since the 1999–00 season, a season which saw the Chiefs go to the WHL Finals. The team, backed by a solid goaltending tandem and an offensive attack led by Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Drayson Bowman, ranked in the top ten of the CHL for most of the season, and reached the #1 spot in late February. In one of the greatest series in WHL history the Chiefs beat their arch-rival, the Tri-City Americans, 4 games to 3 in the Western Conference finals to earn a spot in the 2008 WHL Finals. Five of the 7 games went into overtime, including 3 games decided in double overtime.
In the Finals, the Chiefs outscored the Lethbridge Hurricanes 15–5 and swept the series 4–0, just as they did in the 1991 WHL playoffs, to earn a trip to the Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Ontario. The Chiefs skated to a perfect 3–0 round robin record en route to their 2nd Memorial Cup, defeating the host Kitchener Rangers 4–1 in the championship game. The Chiefs remain the only U.S. team ever to win the Memorial Cup on Canadian soil.
The Chiefs and the Portland Winterhawks would make history again in the playoffs in 2010, as Portland beat Spokane in the Western Conference quarterfinals, 4 games to 3. It is the only series in Western Hockey League history in which the home team didn't win a game.
On May 4, 2010 the Chiefs announced they declined to exercise the option on Hardy Sauter's contract, thereby ending his two-year stint as the team's head coach. Weeks later, speculation begin swirling when former Tri-City coach Don Nachbaur unexpectedly resigned from a coaching position in the AHL. Just hours later, Nachbaur was named the new head coach of the Chiefs, further sparking the heated rivalry between Tri-City and Spokane.
Nachbaur's first season as head coach would be one filled with low expectations. Most picked Spokane to finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference. But Nachbaur's Chiefs finished the season with 102 points- the third highest total in team history, and only one point away from the regular season Western Conference crown. Led by sniper and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Tyler Johnson, the Chiefs led the league in goals scored and power play goals. The surprising Chiefs would also allow the second fewest goals in the league, led by Ottawa Senators prospect Jared Cowen. Spokane would advance to the Western Conference finals, only to lose to Portland four games to two. Nachbaur was named WHL Coach of the Year for 2011 - becoming the only coach in WHL history to win the honor with three different teams (Spokane, Seattle and Tri-City).
Outdoor hockey game
During the 2010 offseason, the Chiefs and the Western Hockey League announced the WHL's first-ever outdoor hockey game would be played in Spokane on January 15, 2011 between the Chiefs and the Kootenay Ice. While the game was welcomed with great excitement in Spokane, many fans questioned the location of the 7,000-seat Avista Stadium- the home of the Spokane Indians baseball club. Joe Albi Stadium, a 28,000-seat facility that usually hosts high school and college football, was thought to be a much-better choice. Chiefs owner Bobby Brett, who also owns the Indians baseball team, said the Chiefs could not reach an agreement with the city on using Joe Albi.
Brett also had liability concerns regarding the astroturf installed at Albi. In the end, the game was played at Avista Stadium in front of a sell-out crowd of 7,075- though ticket prices did make a sell-out uncertain until the last minute. While they enjoyed the experience, many fans complained about the view from their seats at Avista Stadium. Fans who bought front-row tickets discovered they were eye-level with the side boards, making only the upper-part of the players' bodies visible and making it impossible to see the puck.
Construction crews begin their work at Avista Stadium the week after New Year's. A platform was constructed between first and third base on the baseball field, and then the ice refrigeration unit was placed on top of the platform. It took crews about one week to have the ice rink ready to go.
Weather played a critical role in the lead up to the game and on game day itself. Initial forecasts called for arctic temperatures and more than a foot of snow falling on January 15. That changed the week of the game, when a warm pacific storm barrled through the northwest and melted nearly a foot of snow already on the ground in Spokane. To the disappointment of many fans, the temperatures on game-day reached 50-degrees and there was no snow. As if on cue, moments before the puck dropped, the sun tucked behind the clouds and didn't show for the rest of the day, providing near-perfect viewing conditions.
The Chiefs ended up winning the game 11-2 over Kootenay, as nine different players scored for Spokane. Brett and the Chiefs organization have said it is very unlikely an outdoor game would ever be played in Spokane again, although the following day general manager Tim Speltz did leave open the possibility of hosting a game at Joe Albi Stadium.
|Number||Player||Position||Birth year||Hometown||NHL team|
|2||Luke Gallagher*||D||2000||Spokane, Washington||Eligible 2018|
|3||Matt Leduc*||D||2000||Richmond, British Columbia||Eligible 2018|
|4||Jeff Faith||D||1998||Wilcox, Saskatchewan||Undrafted|
|6||Tyson Helgesen (C)||D||1997||Fairview, Alberta||Undrafted|
|7||Nolan Reid||D||1998||Deer Valley, Saskatchewan||Undrafted|
|8||Jake McGrew*||RW||1999||Orange, California||2017, 159nd Overall, SJS|
|9||Keanu Yamamoto||RW||1996||Spokane, Washington||Undrafted|
|10||Ethan McIndoe||LW||1999||Camrose, Alberta||Undrafted|
|11||Jaret Anderson-Dolan||C||1999||Calgary, Alberta||2017, 41st Overall, LAK|
|12||Alex Mowbray||RW||1996||Calgary, Alberta||Undrafted|
|13||Riley Woods||LW||1998||Regina, Saskatchewan||Undrafted|
|16||Taylor Ross||LW||1998||Kronau, Saskatchewan||Undrafted|
|17||Kailer Yamamoto||RW||1998||Spokane, Washington||2017, 22nd Overall, EDM|
|20||Hayden Ostir||RW||1999||Winnipeg, Manitoba||Undrafted|
|21||Pavel Kousal*||LW||1998||Jihlava, Czech Republic||Undrafted|
|23||Jake Toporowski||D||1998||Bettendorf, Iowa||Undrafted|
|24||Ty Smith*||D||2000||Lloydminster, Alberta||Eligible 2018|
|25||Ondrej Najma]*||C||1998||Jihlava, Czech Republic||Undrafted|
|26||Hudson Elynuik||C||1997||Calgary, Alberta||2016, 162nd Overall, CAR|
|27||Riley McKay*||LW||1999||Swan River, Manitoba||Undrafted|
|28||Rykr Cole||LW||1997||Moosomin, Saskatchewan||Undrafted|
|29||Eli Zummack*||C||2000||Kelowna, British Columbia||Eligible 2018|
|32||Dalton Hamaliuk||D||1998||Leduc, Alberta||Undrafted|
|33||Jayden Sittler||G||1996||Red Deer, Alberta||Undrafted|
|37||Dawson Weatherill*||G||1999||Red Deer, Alberta||Undrafted|
Asterisk indicates rookie
Most points: 185 - Ray Whitney (1990–91)
Most penalty minutes: 505 - Kerry Toporowski (1990–91)
Most single-season games played, goaltender: 67 - Troy Gamble (1987–88)
Most points in standings, team: 107 (2007–08)
Most wins, team: 50 (1995–96), (2007–08)
Longest game: 2:26:05 - 4 OT's (vs. Vancouver - April 10, 2009) (2nd longest game in WHL history)
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties OTL = Overtime losses Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
|1985–86||72||30||41||1||-||373||413||61||3rd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1986–87||72||37||33||2||-||374||350||76||3rd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1987–88||72||37||32||3||-||330||296||77||2nd West||Lost West Division final|
|1988–89||72||25||45||2||-||326||419||56||6th West||Out of playoffs|
|1989–90||72||30||37||5||-||334||344||65||4th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1990–91||72||48||23||1||-||435||275||97||2nd West||Won WHL championship and Memorial Cup|
|1991–92||72||37||29||6||-||267||270||80||2nd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1992–93||72||28||40||4||-||311||319||60||5th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1993–94||72||31||37||4||-||324||320||66||5th West||Lost West Division quarter-final|
|1994–95||72||32||36||4||-||244||261||68||5th West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1995–96||72||50||18||4||-||322||221||104||1st West||Lost WHL finals|
|1996–97||72||35||33||4||-||260||235||74||3rd West||Lost West Division semi-final|
|1997–98||72||45||23||4||-||288||235||94||2nd West||Lost West Division final & Lost Memorial Cup|
|1998–99||72||19||44||9||-||193||268||47||7th West||Out of playoffs|
|1999–00||72||47||19||4||2||272||191||100||1st West||Lost WHL finals|
|2000–01||72||35||28||7||2||242||219||79||4th West||Lost West Division final|
|2001–02||72||33||25||11||3||223||206||80||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2002–03||72||26||36||6||4||216||261||62||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2003–04||72||32||29||4||7||200||215||75||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2004–05||72||24||38||8||2||192||230||58||5th U.S.||Out of playoffs|
|2005–06||72||25||39||5||3||193||254||58||5th U.S.||Out of playoffs|
|2006–07||72||36||28||4||4||232||217||80||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2007–08||72||50||15||1||6||251||160||107||2nd U.S.||Won WHL championship and Memorial Cup|
|2008–09||72||46||23||0||3||246||145||95||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2009–10||72||45||22||3||2||240||179||95||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2010–11||72||48||18||4||2||310||193||102||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference final|
|2011–12||72||38||25||5||4||257||225||85||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2012–13||72||44||26||2||0||269||230||90||2nd U.S.||Lost Western Conference semi-final|
|2013–14||72||40||26||3||3||244||213||86||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2014–15||72||34||34||3||1||219||229||72||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2015–16||72||33||30||5||4||223||245||75||4th U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
|2016–17||72||27||33||8||4||235||272||66||5th U.S.||Out of playoffs|
|2017–18||72||41||25||3||3||282||240||88||3rd U.S.||Lost Western Conference quarter-final|
WHL Championship history
- 1990–91: Win, 4-0 vs Lethbridge
- 1995–96: Loss, 1-4 vs Brandon
- 1999–00: Loss, 2-4 vs Kootenay
- 2007–08: Win, 4-0 vs Lethbridge
Memorial Cup finals history
- 1985–86: Lost to Portland Winter Hawks 5 games to 4 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1986–87: Lost to Portland Winter Hawks 5 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1987–88: Defeated Victoria Cougars 5 games to 3 in Conference semi-finals.
Lost to Kamloops Blazers 5 games to 2 in Conference finals.
- 1988–89: Out of playoffs.
- 1989–90: Lost to Kamloops Blazers 5 games to 1 in Conference semi-finals
- 1990–91: Defeated Seattle Thunderbirds 5 games to 1 in Conference semi-finals.
Defeated Kamloops Blazers 5 games to 0 in Conference finals.
Defeated Lethbridge Hurricanes 4 games to 0 in WHL finals. WHL CHAMPIONS
Finished Memorial Cup round-robin in first place (3–0).
Defeated Drummondville Voltigeurs 5–1 to win Memorial Cup. MEMORIAL CUP CHAMPIONS
- 1991–92: Defeated Portland Winter Hawks 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Seattle Thunderbirds 3 games to 1 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1992–93: Defeated Tacoma Rockets 4 games to 3 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Kamloops Blazers 3 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1993–94: Lost to Seattle Thunderbirds 3 games to 0 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 1994–95: Advanced past round-robin tournament with 3–1 record.
Lost to Tri-City Americans 4 games to 3 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1995–96: Defeated Portland Winter Hawks 4 games to 3 in Conference quarter-finals.
Earned second-round bye.
Defeated Kamloops Blazers 4 games to 2 in Conference finals.
Lost to Brandon Wheat Kings 4 games to 1 in WHL Finals.
- 1996–97: Defeated Kelowna Rockets 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Prince George Cougars 3 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
- 1997–98: Defeated Kelowna Rockets 4 games to 3 in Conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Prince George Cougars 3 games to 1 in Conference semi-finals.
Lost to Portland Winter Hawks 4 games to 3 in Conference finals.
Hosted Memorial Cup, finished round-robin in third place (1–2).
Lost 2–1 (OT) in Semi-Final to Guelph Storm.
- 1998–99: Out of playoffs.
- 1999–00: Defeated Tri-City Americans 4 games to 0 in Conference quarter-finals.
Earned second-round bye.
Defeated Prince George Cougars 4 games to 1 in Conference finals.
Lost to Kootenay Ice 4 games to 2 in WHL finals.
- 2000–01: Defeated Kamloops Blazers 4 games to 0 in Conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Seattle Thunderbirds 3 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
Lost to Portland Winter Hawks 4 games to 1 in Conference finals.
- 2001–02: Defeated Tri-City Americans 4 games to 1 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Kelowna Rockets 4 games to 2 in Conference semi-finals.
- 2002–03: Defeated Portland Winter Hawks 4 games to 3 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Kelowna Rockets 4 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
- 2003–04: Lost to Everett Silvertips 4 games to 0 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2004–05: Out of playoffs.
- 2005–06: Out of playoffs.
- 2006–07: Lost to Everett Silvertips 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2007–08: Defeated Everett Silvertips 4 games to 0 in Conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Vancouver Giants 4 games to 2 in Conference semi-finals.
Defeated Tri-City Americans 4 games to 3 in Conference finals.
Defeated Lethbridge Hurricanes 4 games to 0 in WHL finals. WHL CHAMPIONS
Finished Memorial Cup round-robin in first place (3–0).
Defeated Kitchener Rangers 4–1 to win Memorial Cup. MEMORIAL CUP CHAMPIONS
- 2008–09: Defeated Seattle Thunderbirds 4 games to 1 in Conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Vancouver Giants 4 games to 3 in Conference semi-finals.
- 2009–10: Lost to Portland Winterhawks 4 games to 3 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2010–11: Defeated Chilliwack Bruins 4 games to 1 in Conference quarter-finals.
Defeated Tri-City Americans 4 games to 2 in Conference semi-finals.
Lost to Portland Winterhawks 4 games to 2 in Conference finals.
- 2011-12: Defeated Vancouver Giants 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter finals.
Lost to Tri-City Americans 4 games to 3 in Conference semi-finals.
- 2012-13: Defeated Tri-City Americans 4 games to 1 in Conference quarter finals.
Lost to Portland Winterhawks 4 games to 0 in Conference semi-finals.
- 2013–14: Lost to Victoria Royals 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2014–15: Lost to Everett Silvertips 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2015–16: Lost to Victoria Royals 4 games to 2 in Conference quarter-finals.
- 2016–17: Out of playoffs.
- All-Time Playoff Record (Not Including Memorial Cup Games): 139–131
- All-Time Memorial Cup Tournament Record: 9–3
Head coaches and all-time regular season records
- 1985–86 Ernie Gare Jr. (1–5–0)
- 1985–86 Marc Pezzin (30–41–1)
- 1986–87 Peter Esdale (37–33–2)
- 1987–89 Butch Goring (39–41–3)
- 1989 (Interim)- Bob Strumm (2–4–0)
- 1988–89 Gary Braun (21–32–2)
- 1989–94 Bryan Maxwell (165–155–22)* Resigned Mid-Season 1993–94
- 1994 (Interim)- Tim Speltz (1–0)
- 1994 (Interim)- Perry Shockey (0–1)
- 1994 (Interim)- Mike Fedorko (9–11–2)
- 1994–00 Mike Babcock (234–169–29–2)
- 1997 (Interim)- Brian Cox (5–2–0)
- 2000–02 Perry Ganchar (68–53–18–5)
- 2003–05 Al Conroy (82–103–18–13)
- 2005–08 Bill Peters (111–81–10–12)
- 2008 (Interim) Leigh Mendelson (1–0)
- 2008–10 Hardy Sauter (91–45–3–5)
- 2010-17 Don Nachbaur (86–43–9–6)
- 2017-Curent Dan Lambert (8-7-1-2)
- 1985–86 Marc Pezzin
- 1986–89 Bob Strumm
- 1989–90 Brian Maxwell
- 1990–16 Tim Speltz
- 2016–Present Scott Carter
Radio and television coverage
Spokane Chiefs games are broadcast on AM 1510 KGA throughout Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and parts of British Columbia. The current play-by-play broadcaster of the Chiefs is Mike Boyle, a fill-in sports anchor/reporter for KREM 2. Jay Stewart was the radio voice for Spokane through the 2001 season, taking over for longtime broadcaster Craig West who left the organization to join the Tri-City Americans. Jay Stewart is now the Director of Public Relations for the Spokane Chiefs and is the television announcer during live games.
Spokane is the only U.S. team in the WHL that can regularly be seen on television in Canada. Spokane's ABC, CBS and NBC television stations are available in Calgary, AB., Edmonton, AB., Saskatoon, SK., and other cities in Western and Central Canada.
- 1950–1995 Spokane Coliseum (5,400 capacity)
- 1995–Present Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena 9,916 current hockey capacity according to the spokane arena website (old capacity was 10,759)
Spokane Arena hockey attendance records
- Largest crowds: 10,759 vs. Tri-City (7 times since 1995), 10,751 Spokane vs. Val d'Or (1998 Memorial Cup opener), 10,700 vs. Tri-City (8 times since 1995), 10,650 vs. Tri-City (2 times since 1995), 10,538 vs. Tri-City (5 times since 1995), 10,530 vs. Tri City (2010), 10,529 vs. Tri-City (2 times in 2010), 10,475 vs. Tri-City (2 times in 2011), 10,431 vs. Tri-City (4 times since 1995)
- Smallest crowd: 3,025 Spokane vs. Kelowna (February 8, 2006)
- 1995–96 Sellouts: 11 (Includes NHL Exhibition Game)
- 1996–97 Sellouts: 9
- 1997–98 Sellouts: 14 (Includes 8 Memorial Cup Games)
- 1998–99 Sellouts: 5
- 1999–00 Sellouts: 5
- 2000–01 Sellouts: 4
- 2001–02 Sellouts: 2
- 2002–03 Sellouts: 1
- 2003–04 Sellouts: 2
- 2004–05 Sellouts: 3
- 2005–06 Sellouts: 2
- 2006–07 Sellouts: 2
- 2007–08 Sellouts: 3
- 2008–09 Sellouts: 4
- 2009–10 Sellouts: 4
- 2010-11 Sellouts: 3* (Includes Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic)
- 2011-12 Sellouts: 1
- 2012-13 Sellouts: 2
- 2013-14 Sellouts: 2
- 2014-15 Sellouts: 0
Chiefs attendance averages and WHL attendance rank
|Season||Total attendance||Average||Games||WHL rank|
- "League Attendance Report". Mib.org. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- "The Spokesman-Review - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- The StarPhoenix October 28, 2007 (2007-10-28). "On the road again". Canada.com. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- "Spokane Chiefs decline to pick up option on head coach Hardy Sauter's contract - NHL.com - News". NHL.com. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- "Don Nachbaur will coach Chiefs: Official announcement will be made at press conference Wednesday". American Chronicle. 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- "Blanchette: Chiefs lit the fuse on perfect outdoor outcome". spokesman.com.