The Spokane Chiefs are heading into the annual Christmas break on a high note after a 5-4 overtime win last Saturday over the Portland Winterhawks.
The Chiefs didn't make it easy and had to come back three times before Jason Fram's OT winner.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak and gave the team a good sendoff before this week's break.
The Chiefs have played 34 games - two shy of the absolute halfway point in the season, but this still seems like a good time to evaluate the first half.
The season could be divided into two categories: with Adam Helewaks, and without.
Helewka didn't join the team until Oct. 28 in Medicine Hat. The Chiefs won four of their first 12 games to start the season without Helewka. With him and his offensive spark, the Chiefs won 12 of their next 19 games.
But after a loss to the Tri-City Americans on Dec. 12, Helewka earned a six-game suspension for a fight after the final horn that left the Americans' Parker Wotherspoon bloody.
Helewka has served half of his suspension and the Chiefs have won one of those three games.
So simply put, if the Chiefs have Helewka in the lineup, they're a much more difficult team to play.
Helewka returns on Jan. 2 against the Portland Winterhawks.
Yamamoto named WHL Player of the Week
With all the attention on Adam Helewka, it could be easy to overlook the season Kailer Yamamoto is having.
The younger Yamamoto has 48 points in 34 games (14g, 34a) and finished with seven points last week en route to being named the WHL Player of the Week.
Without Helewka alongside him on the top line, Yamamoto became the offensive leader last week and had four goals and three assists.
Video Vault: Baby Babcock
The World Junior Hockey Championships begin on Saturday, with Team USA opening its tournament with a tough test against Canada.
This week's video vault looks back at an old Canadian TV feature on the 1997 Canadian team, coached by former Spokane Chiefs head coach Mike Babcock:
That Canadian team went on to win the gold medal with a 2-0 victory over Team USA in the final. The team also featured Hugh Hamilton and Trent Whitfield, both of the Spokane Chiefs.
Team Canada followed up in the 1998 tournament by finishing in eighth place and losing to Kazakhstan. KAZAKHSTAN!
Go Team USA.