SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Chiefs head coach Don Nachbaur has become the fourth person to coach 1,000 career games in the Western Hockey League.
Nachbaur's milestone came on Saturday night as his Chiefs downed the visiting Tri-City Americans 5-2.
Nachbaur has coached three WHL clubs, spanning 14 seasons, and currently is in his third year with the Chiefs. Last season he became the sixth coach in league history to earn 500 career victories.
"I've been around a real long time and been real fortunate to be on winning teams, and that's really been my longevity," said Nachbaur. "It's really about the players, not me as a coach. It's really the kids that bought into the plan we threw in front of them."
After a long career as a professional hockey player, including 223 games in the NHL, the Kitimat, B.C native's coaching career began with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1994. That year he won his first of three Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophies as the top coach in the WHL.
He led the Thunderbirds' for six seasons, guiding them to 202 wins in 408 games before departing for an assistant coaching job in the American Hockey League.
In 2003, he returned to the WHL's U.S. Division as the head coach of Tri-City. He spent six seasons with the Americans, winning 229 games, and never missed the playoffs.
After the 2008-09 season, Nachbaur once again departed for the AHL to take the head coaching job of the Binghamton Senators, Ottawa's AHL affiliate.
"Let's put it this way, I think everyone's dream is to play in the NHL and I played there after I started off in junior hockey in the WHL," Nachbaur said. "Obviously as a coach you want to move up the ladder as well, and I had my taste, but this is the level I really enjoy. I'm real proud I grew up in the (WHL). I've spent a lot of time in real good company. There's some quality people I get to rub shoulders with and it's real humbling."
The former centre is also an assistant coach for Team Canada's WJC team and recently led Team WHL against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.
Nachbaur joins all-time leader Ken Hodge (1,411), Ernie McLean (1,067) and Lorne Molleken (1,016) on the list of people who have coached 1,000 WHL games.
"I'm just a guy that goes to work every day," said Nachbaur.
Liam Stewart scored twice for the Chiefs (17-7-1) while Blake Gal, Mitch Holmberg and Todd Fiddler had a goal apiece.
Jesse Mychan and Parker Bowles scored for the Americans (16-8-2), who lost for the first time in five outings.
Eric William made 19 saves for the win as Eric Comrie turned aside 24-of-28 shots in a losing cause.
Neither club could score on the power play as Spokane went 0 for 5 and Tri-City 0 for 2.
The victory moves the Chiefs one point ahead of the Americans for second place in the U.S. Division standings.