The defending Memorial Cup champions from Spokane have some bad news for the rest of the Western Hockey League: They might be even better than they were a year ago.
Rookie netminder James Reid stopped 27 shots for his first career WHL shutout as the surging Chiefs blanked the Red Deer Rebels 2-0 on Wednesday night.
The win was the third in four games for Spokane (11-3-0-3), moving the Chiefs into a first-place tie with the state-rival Tri-City Americans atop the U.S. Division. Spokane has a game in hand.
Following Wednesday's strong performance, Reid, 17, has now allowed just three goals in his first three games, sporting a 0.97 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage. He and starter Dustin Tokarski - who leads the league with a 1.55 GAA - make up the stingiest tandem in the league, as the Chiefs have surrendered a league-low 29 goals in 17 games.
Spokane ranked second-best in goals allowed last season en route to its first Memorial Cup title.
In other WHL action Wednesday, it was: Swift Current 5 Prince Albert 2; Medicine Hat 8 Moose Jaw 2; Everett 4 Regina 1; Kamloops 6 Prince George 1; and Edmonton 5 Portland 2.
At Spokane, Wash., Levko Koper and Mitch Wahl had first-period goals for the Chiefs, providing Reid with all the offence he would need. Reid wasn't tested much early, but turned aside all 13 shots he faced in a busy third period that featured a pair of Red Deer power plays.
Spokane hasn't surrendered more than three goals in a game since losing the season opener 4-2 against the Kootenay Ice.
Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves in defeat for the Rebels (6-10-0-5).
Broncos 5 Raiders 2
At Swift Current, Sask., Grant Toulmin scored twice as the Broncos beat Prince Albert for their fifth victory in a row.
Cody Eakin, Geordie Wudrick, and Brad Hoban had singles for Swift Current (14-5-0-0).
Ryan McDonald and Zak Stebner countered for the Raiders (11-11-0-0).
Tigers 8 Warriors 2
At Moose Jaw, Sask., Linden Vey scored three times as Medicine Hat trounced the Warriors.
Tyler Ennis added a pair of goals while Taylor Gal, Tristan King and Wacey Hamilton also scored for the Tigers (8-6-2-2).
Ryley Grantham and Joel Broda answered for the Warriors (5-11-0-1).
Silvertips 4 Pats 1
At Regina, Daniel Bartek's hat trick was the difference in Everett's win over the Pats.
Paul Van de Velde had the other goal for the Silvertips (9-7-1-0).
Colten Teubert's goal provided the one offence for Regina (11-6-1-3).
Blazers 6 Cougars 1
At Kamloops, B.C., Shayne Wiebe scored twice and added two assists as the Blazers bounced Prince George.
C.J. Stretch, Tyler Shattock, Brendan Ranford and Jake Trask added singles as Kamloops (10-9-0-2) won its second straight.
Brett Connolly replied for the Cougars (8-10-0-1).
Oil Kings 5 Winter Hawks 2
At Portland, Ore., Edmonton used three goals from defencemen to beat the Winter Hawks.
Tyler Hlookoff, Mark Pysyk, Adrian Van de Mosselaer, Logan Proulx and Brett Breitkreuz all scored for the Oil Kings (9-11-1-1).
Taylor Peters and Stefan Schneider had singles for Portland (3-13-0-0).