Chilliwack Chiefs (14-36-2-5, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Coquitlam Express (26-26-2-3, 3rd in Mainland Division) (Saturday, March 1st, Prospera Centre – 6:30pm pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)
It’s fan appreciation night in Chilliwack as the Chiefs see their season come to an end on Saturday night against the Coquitlam Express.
If tonight’s game is anything like we saw on Friday in Coquitlam, the fans should get a great show. As expected, there was a ton of offence at Porier last night – A large chunk of that provided by Mathieu Tibbet. The soon to be teammate of Austin Plevy at Merrimack next year scored a hat trick – because of course he did – and added a helper on another great rush to the net that was finished off by Blake Gober. When I asked Harvey Smyl in the pregame about setting Tibbet up for possibly a hat trick and the 30 goal mark, I was only kidding.
Then again, you shouldn’t joke about Tibbet against the Express. Of his 44 career goals, 11 have come at the expense of Coquitlam, and a whopping eight of those have come at Poirier. He likes playing there, I guess. All three of his goals were timely as well – One to tie the game at 1 in the first, another shorthanded to go up 5-3, and a deflection to make it 6-4.
I thought Ryan Rosenthal was the best player for the Express last night. Incredible speed down the wing. He scored a goal and added an assist. Plenty of skill for Coquitlam, but you can see why Rosenthal is their captain and leader.
Really liked Andrew Silard’s game on Friday. All over the place. Physical. A couple points, and could of had a goal – it was waved off. Nod to Daniel Delbianco as well for burying his first as a Chief – off a nice little touch pass from? Andrew Silard.
Big goal from Kyle Westeringh late in the second period to go up by one. Nice tip on the doorstep, as Ben Butcher found him off the right wing boards. Big play at the time.
Spencer Tremblay was busy, and made 41 saves on Friday, including some big ones. One post to post job on the Pieper boys really stands out – It led to the Delbianco goal to make it 3-1 going back the other way.
I hope we see much of the same tonight, certainly from an entertainment standpoint. A big crowd is expected, and there’s a ton of giveaways at the rink tonight.
Last call, man.
Chilliwack Chiefs (13-36-2-5, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Coquitlam Express (26-25-2-3, 3rd in Mainland Division) (Friday, February 28th, Porier Centre – 6:30pm pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)
Well…this is it. Two games left before everyone’s outta here for the offseason, and in some cases, forever.
But before we get to that, there’s two games to play, starting tonight in Coquitlam, as the Chiefs battle the Express in a home and home weekend set.
Let’s be real here – Not much has gone right for the Chiefs this season. What’s left to play for is pride at this point, and I think there will be some extra emotion throughout the room in the final two days. Kiefer McNaughton, Tanner Cochrane, Andrew Silard, Mathieu Tibbet, and Cody Bardock are finishing up their Junior careers. That kind of emotion always comes out once the season’s over, and we’ll see it carry to the ice over the next 48 hours.
You’ve also got players playing for next year, be it a spot in the Chiefs lineup come September, somewhere else in the BCHL, the dub, or collegiately. Two games left of ‘auditions’ if you will. That’s meaningful, too.
The Express are trying to gather some cliched ‘momentum’ going into the postseason. They haven’t exactly lit the world on fire or anything lately – three wins in their last ten games, and their record sees them sitting at just a game over .500.
That said, Coquitlam has taken four of six from the Chiefs in the season series. The last two games were iced by the Express with go-ahead/insurance goals in the dying moments. If Chilliwack can (I’ve said this 1500 times this year) take care of their own end first and make that commitment in the D-zone, they should be in good shape. Coquitlam’s in a playoff spot thanks to their depth and scoring touch up front. The Pieper boys, Cody Boyd, Corey Mackin, Adam Rockwood, Ryan Rosenthal, and Joey Santucci can all fill the net. Cannon Pieper and Rosenthal are over 30 goals, and three others have cracked the 20 goal plateau.
The Chiefs aren’t nearly as explosive individually, but they’ve put the puck in the net quite a bit over the last few weeks – 37 goals in eight games during the month of February. That’s 4.6 GF a clip, blowing their season average of 3.32 out of the water.
Mathieu Tibbet has been a big part of that surge, and when it comes to individual milestones, I’ll be curious to see if he can hit the 30 goal plateau. He’s sitting at 27 for the moment, and is working on a three game goal scoring streak, including the five point outburst two weeks back in the comeback over Surrey. He’s found the net in the last three Express games. It’s possible.
I’ll be honest – it sucks not being able to ‘look forward’ to the postseason, but these last two games still mean alot of things to alot of people. I just hope that translates to the ice for the next couple days before things go quiet for a little while.
Chilliwack Chiefs (13-36-2-4, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Prince George Spruce Kings (31-18-3-2, 2nd in Mainland Division) (Saturday, February 22nd, Prospera Centre – 6:30pm pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)
Last night it was the best team in the division (and the league, as of right this second) in Langley standing in the way of the Chiefs. Tonight, it gets no easier, as the Mainland’s second best team, the Prince George Spruce Kings pay a visit, their final trip to Prospera Centre this season.
The two teams haven’t faced one another since the game back in January – won 3-0 by the visiting Spruce Kings on the day of the Caleb Thompson/Cooper Rush trade.
Rush was knocked into the boards that afternoon, injured his knee, and hasn’t played since, while Thompson has been one of the more consistent players on the Chilliwack blueline. Thompson was arguably the best player on the ice the last time he faced his old mates, and will surely be cranked up a little extra for this one tonight.
Both teams played on Friday – the Chiefs losing another high scoring affair to the Rivermen 8-5, while the Spruce Kings are in the middle of a three game Lower Mainland swing. They won last night in Coquitlam 3-2, a game in which they never trailed.
It’s the same story for Chilliwack at this point. They’ve proved that the offensive capabilities are there to beat any team in the league, but they continue to have a heck of a time keeping the puck out of their own net. Prince George may not be as big as Langley up front, but there is plenty of skill that has contributed to PG’s 6-1 record v. the Chiefs in the season series. Chad Staley, Justin Rai, Jeremiah Luetdke, Brent Lashuk, Bryant Christian, and Jake Lebrun pose a unique challenge as a group. Lebrun and Rai are both one goal shy of the 20 plateau, while Staley and Lashuk are already there with 27, and 22 respectively.
The Chiefs have one 20 goal scorer – Mathieu Tibbet picked up his team leading 26th last night on another one of his patented loose puck footraces. Mathieu’s numbers – 26-22-48 – are even more impressive when you realize that he went 18 games at the start of the season without a goal. Makes you wonder where he’d be now, although heading to Merrimack next year to play with his buddy Austin Plevy is pretty good.
It’ll be a grind tonight against a good Spruce King team, but if the Chiefs can be better in their own zone, they’ll be in excellent shape tonight.
Chilliwack Chiefs (13-35-2-4, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Trail Smoke Eaters (34-13-2-5, 1st in Mainland Division) (Friday, February 21st, Langley Events Centre – 6:45pm pregame/7:15 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)
Two game weekend for the boys beginning Friday night in Langley against the League’s top team.
So, you know…It’s gonna be a challenge.
Langley has taken the last seven games in the season series after Chilliwack picked up a couple of points at the LEC in October. The Chiefs did earn a single point in that building last time – an entertaining 5-4 loss – and are playing a little looser with wins in three of their last five games.
The Chiefs are coming off that stirring comeback victory over the Surrey Eagles at home last Saturday night, thanks to Mathieu Tibbet’s hat-trick, Zach Diamontoni’s two goals, and the outstanding relief performance by Josh Halpenny from the second period on.
Even this late in the season, part of the focus for the Chiefs has been the play in their own zone, up and down all year. They’ll have to be stingy tonight, as this Langley team can put the puck in the net – fifth in the league in goal differential at +39, while Chilliwack is at the other end of the spectrum at -80. Part of what makes the Riv’ dangerous up front is their number of weapons. Captain Mitch McLain might be the most dangerous, leading the group in scoring with 56 points. He also has the ability to get under his opponent’s skin, as the above photo with Tanner Cochrane would suggest. McLain is very effective, and the talented rest follow – Riechert, Robinson, Ustaski, Azurdia…Bobby Henderson likes size to go with skill, and it’s certainly taken it’s toll on other BCHL teams this year.
While Chilliwack is trying to put together some positives before the season wraps up on March 1st, Langley has a little more to play for tonight. A single point in this game for the Riv’ wraps up a division title, and every point matters as they try to come away with the BCHL’s top record.
That puts the Chiefs in spoiler mode, and they’ve got the ability to do that on the road. I’m anxious to see what the line of Mason Boh/Kurt Black/Jordan Kawaguchi can continue to do in the offensive zone. Mathieu Tibbet just continues to find the back of the net, and I’m looking forward to watching the Chiefs’ D core match up one more time with a big group of talented forwards. When you play eight times, it comes down to execution and desire. Two spoiler points for the Chiefs are in play tonight.
The league needs more Family Day games. Or it just needs more games between Chilliwack and Surrey at the South Surrey Arena.
Surrey’s 7-6 victory over the Chiefs marked the second time this season Peter Schaeffer’s club had knocked off Chilliwack by that final score – The Eagles won a 7-6 game back on November 8th.
It was last shot wins, and a total ball from an entertainment standpoint. Unfortunate the Chiefs didn’t get the result they were looking for though, as Braeden Russell beat Spencer Tremblay from the right circle with 39 seconds left in the 3rd.
It would have come with a little more detail in their own end of the rink. The season series is now tied at four with one more to come February 15th in Chilliwack.
- Andrew Silard was named third star in this game. He finished with one goal and two assists on the afternoon, and the last couple nights, he and Jaret Babych (also with a goal and an assist) have become a formidable tandem, bringing the energy (read: Hits. Quite a few.) and scoring the two goals that tied the game in the third period after Surrey had struck on a 5 on 3 to go up 5-3.
- Carter Cochrane put the Chiefs up 6-5 in the third period (also on a 5 on 3) with his 16th of the season. Carter finished with three points on the afternoon, now leads the team with 45, and was (literally) everywhere in this game. That’s not hyperbole either. Fun to watch. He’ll do some good things with Everett in the Dub next year.
- I mentioned the 5 on 3 Surrey scored on to go up by two in the first minute of the third – that penalty was taken by Blake Gober, which is a shame because it came at the end of one hell of a shift he had: A couple scoring chances, a hit, and some real intensity at both ends. Only one shift, and there were others, but that one stood out at the time.
- Zach Diamontoni with a four game point streak and three goals in his last two. Nice deflection to put the team in front late in the first. Staying with streaks, Babych has points in five of his last seven, as does Andrew Silard. Jordan Kawaguchi has at least a point in six of his last seven games, including a nice shot to beat Bo Didur early in the first period on Monday. His linemate Mason Boh has points in four of five games as well. Jake Hand has points in four of six, including a goal Monday. Mathieu Tibbet has points in seven of nine.
- Chilliwack scored 19 goals in three games this weekend. Point streaks add up, is what I’m saying. They also had two goals called back on Monday. The second one was shrouded in a little controversy, as Zach Diamontoni appeared to score on a delayed penalty. The whistle blew a half second before the puck went in. I didn’t see it hit a Surrey stick before it got to Diamontoni, and Doug Ast said on the postgame that there wasn’t an explanation. The Cochrane goal followed anyway, but still. Coulda been nine this afternoon.
- The usual suspects for Surrey showed up on Monday. The Renoufs (combined for six points) Danton Heinen (hat-trick) Anthony Conti (two assists) Peter Schaeffer’s got a good mix of size for the areas in front of the net, and skill along the walls in the Renoufs. They’ll be a tough out in the postseason.
- The season series is now tied at four, and there’s one more to come. That’s fine with me.
We’re gonna go full weekend recap here, as the Chiefs made it consecutive victories, beginning with an overtime triumph in Trail, followed by a 7-4 victory in Salmon Arm on Saturday. This team is a little looser now, with only pride to play for, and it’s great to see a four point road trip – the first of this season.
Trail was a weird night from start to finish. A pipe burst at one end of the ice, spraying yellow brine everywhere. It’s something that’s happened in Cominco before, and it delayed the game for 45 minutes. Chilliwack and Trail both had to dial it back for the delay, and it seemed to hurt the Chiefs early, as they came out flat on Friday night. The Smokies scored the game’s first goal, and had the run of the play.
Of course, the Chiefs found a way, as Mathieu Tibbet tied the game in the third period with a good shot off the rush, and then buried the overtime winner with eight seconds on the clock, as he was set up by Zach Diamontoni. Spencer Tremblay made some big saves at key times, and a day that seemed to go on forever ended in a Chilliwack win, snapping a ten game winless skid.
Mason Boh had his breakout weekend, starting with the Friday game where he scored his first goal. He probably could have had two or three, and it carried over to the next night in Salmon Arm with a three point performance. He’s seemed to find some chemistry with Jordan Kawaguchi and Kurt Black. Those three have been very effective late in this season, generating offense, and being a general pain to play against. Kawaguchi showed some great patience in Salmon Arm on a Boh rebound goal, outwaiting Angus Redmond on a deke to the right post. Boh followed up on the rebound. It’s great to see him generating, and getting rewarded for his efforts.
Zach Diamontoni scored a couple on Saturday night, and after everyone has implored him to shoot the puck a little more, he’s begun to find the back of the net. His patience in space for his first goal, a shot high over the blocker on Redmond was a good sign of that. He and Blake Gober are two players that could play a big role with the future of this team and to see the both of them have two goal nights – Gober’s came in Trail – more positives.
Big night for the Cochranes in Salmon Arm, with a whole entourage of family members in attendance. Tanner chipped in with a couple helpers, while Carter finished with two goals and an assist.
Andrew Silard really got his game going later on Saturday night, throwing some big hits, including the biggest on Brendan Kennedy right near the Salmon Arm bench. Silard’s been the energy barometer most nights, and he really brought that to the table in the second period. Daniel Delbianco hasn’t been afraid to mix it up either.
Spencer Tremblay was under siege early in Salmon Arm, as the Silverbacks put 19 shots on the board in the first period alone. He was very good throughout, and gave his team a chance on both nights. All you can ask for there.
Salmon Arm is banged up, missing some key guys, including trigger man Alex Gillies. Landon Smith and his 41 goals were kept to the outside all night Saturday. Credit to the Chiefs for making that collective effort defensively.
Chilliwack Chiefs (10-33-2-4, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Trail Smoke Eaters (9-37-2-6, 6th in Interior Division) (Friday, February 7th, Cominco Arena – 7pm pregame/7:30 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)
As indicated by the records of the two teams above, both could use a win in the worst way. The Chiefs could use a couple points – There’s been a couple overtime losses and a tie in the middle of this ten game winless streak, but it’s time to pick up a full pair – for the first time in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Smoke Eaters have lost eight straight games. Last time these two met, both were in the midst of heavy winless streaks, and the Chiefs snapped theirs with a resounding 13-5 win on December 21st, including seven goals in the first period.
It’s unfair to predict a seven spot in the first again tonight, but after their playoff dreams were dashed last week at the hands of the Surrey Eagles, the Chiefs will want to come out with a litte fire, as the frustration has piled up over the month of January.
We’ve seen this Chiefs team put the puck in the net. Mathieu Tibbet leads the way, as he hit the 20 goal plateau last weekend, while Tanner Cochrane is working on a five game point streak, including six in his last three.
Trail might have only nine wins, but crazy things can happen at Cominco Arena. The Chiefs lost their last trip there a year ago, 5-4. The Smokies rallied in that game for the win, and Trail’s last home game was a 9-6 loss to the Merritt Centennials. Trail got some balanced scoring in that one, including two from Taylor Armbruster. Balanced scoring is what they’ve gotten all year – their leader in that category is Bryan Basilico with eleven. He’s the only Smokies’ player in double figures this season. Trail has also struggled mightily in keeping the puck out of their net. They are last in the league with a -107 goal differential. (Chilliwack’s is at -79 by comparison)
Both teams should be desperate. Both teams should come out strong early. Crazy bounces in a great building should be expected, and perhaps a ton of goals.
Hopefully it’s the Chiefs who get their weekend off to a good start.