Spokane tops Pre-Season WHL Poll (Ams 5th) - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Spokane tops Pre-Season WHL Poll (Ams 5th)

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MEDICINE HAT, AB -- The defending champion Spokane Chiefs are again the team to beat in the Western Hockey League, according to the annual pre-season rankings released Wednesday by the newspaper writers from around the WHL.

The Western Major Junior Hockey Writers Association voters gave the 2007-08 champions 14 of 17 first-place votes prior to tonight's WHL regular season opener in which the Chiefs visit the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook.

The team Spokane defeated in last year's WHL title series, the Lethbridge Hurricanes, check in at No. 3 in the poll, while two teams that showed tremendous promise with inexperienced rosters last season - the Kelowna Rockets and Brandon Wheat Kings - checked in at numbers two and four, respectively.

Defending regular season champion Tri-City Americans round out the top-five.

Results of the poll:

(First-place votes in parenthesis)

1. Spokane Chiefs         (14)       371

2. Kelowna Rockets       (1)        343

3. Lethbridge Hurricanes (1)       335

4. Brandon Wheat Kings            325

5. Tri-City Americans      (1)        316

6. Vancouver Giants                  278

7. Medicine Hat Tigers               266

8. Seattle Thunderbirds              251

9. Calgary Hitmen                      233

10. Regina Pats                         223

11. Swift Current Broncos          221

12. Saskatoon Blades                150

13. Kamloops Blazers                149

14. Moose Jaw Warriors            143

15. Prince George Cougars        129

16. Kootenay Ice                       125

17. Prince Albert Raiders           114

18. Everett Silvertips                 91

19. Chilliwack Bruins                  88

20. Edmonton Oil Kings             77

21. Red Deer Rebels                 54

22. Portland Winter Hawks         19

Members of the WMJHWA award votes in weighted order (22 points for first-place, 21 for second, etc.). A total of 17 ballots were cast by the Everett Herald, Seattle Times, Spokesman-Review (Spokane), Tri-City Herald, Kelowna Capital News, Kelowna Daily Courier, Red Deer Advocate, Swift Current Prairie Post,  Prince George Citizen, Lethbridge Herald, Medicine Hat News, Chilliwack Progress, The Kootenay NewsAdvertiser, Moose Jaw Times-Herald, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post and the Brandon Sun.

The Ams start the season at home Saturday Sept. 20th against Kelowna.