Memories of Spokane

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Playing against their former team for the first time, Steve Pleau and J.P. Szaszkiewicz aren't out to get any revenge, they just want to use the game against the Spokane Chiefs as a big measuring stick.

Pleau was an assistant coach with the Chiefs last season. It was a place that got his feet wet in the Western Hockey League.

Szaszkiewicz was a 10th-round pick in the 2003 WHL bantam draft by the Chiefs. He played 169 games over three seasons with Spokane.

"I have got nothing but respect for that organization. They gave me an opportunity last year to learn from them and the Western Hockey League and obviously it was learning from the best, because that is what they are right now," said Pleau.

"They did a great job of establishing a culture there of work ethic and competitiveness and they filled it in with some great skill and now they are at the top of the league and that is where we strive to be."

The Chiefs brought back most of last year's team that lost in the first round of the playoffs. This season, however, the Chiefs have jumped ahead of the rest of the WHL with a 21-4-1-2 record. They have a plethora of offensive talent that includes Drayson Bowman, who is red hot as of late. He has 25 goals and 20 assists in 28 games. In his last seven games he's scored 12 goals and six assists. They also have Mitch Wahl and a heart and soul player in Chris Bruton. They also have a strong supporting cast led by the likes of Chris Langkow and David Rutherford.

"The way last year ended, we had a great six-game series with Everett. It was a close battle and I think the guys that were part of that series learned a lot and they matured and they took it into this year," added Pleau.

"This is a huge game for us in the playoff race. We are five points behind Moose Jaw for the last playoff spot and we gave them another point last night. To this point we have played well against upper-echelon teams."

Szaszkiewicz had a lot of good memories in his three years in the state of Washington, that included his first taste of playoff hockey.

"I had some good experiences in my three years in Spokane, but I am gaining some good experience here too," said Szaszkiewicz.

"They have a real good team this year, but hopefully we can take it to them a little bit and I can get some bragging rights over them."

Szaszkiewicz's time in Spokane did have its rough patches. Two out of the three seasons, the Chiefs missed the playoffs. Making the playoffs was his most memorable moment in a Chiefs jersey.

"There is no better feeling than making the playoffs and that is something I definitely want to experience again in my WHL career," added Szaszkiewicz.

He admits he's excited about facing off against his former team, but he isn't going to get too nervous or worked up about it so that he turns in a bad performance. That's not Szaszkiewicz's style. His strong work ethic wouldn't allow the nerves to get in his way.

"All you can do is treat it like a regular game, you prepare like you would any other game. Obviously you might be a little amped up, but I just want to go out there and do my best," said Szaszkiewicz, who's recorded seven points in 24 games.


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