Archive for September, 2012

Chiefs/Eagles Fire It Up Sunday

September 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Photo: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (3-2-0-1) Vs. Surrey Eagles (4-3-0-0)

(South Surrey Arena – 3:30 pregame show/4pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

The Chiefs will wrap up their weekend with a rare Sunday afternooon game at the South Surrey Arena. The opponent is all too familiar, as the Surrey Eagles are on the docket for the third time this season. The two teams have split the first two games this season, with each winning on their home ice. The Eagles’ victory came on September 14, when Drew Best scored his first BCHL goal in double overtime to give his team the edge. Chillliwack answered back one night later at Prospera Centre, erupting for four goals in the second period en route to a 4-2 triumph.

Surrey comes into this game on the heels of an impressive road victory over the Coquitlam Express on Friday night. New goaltending acquisition Michael Santaguida was stellar in the win. He made 30 saves in his first game as an Eagle. Surrey also jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that game, and hung on the rest of the way.


– Chilliwack has an opportunity to string two solid efforts together. The team put forth one of it’s best outings Friday night at Prospera Centre in a 3-0 victory over the Powell River Kings. A win today would give the Chiefs their longest winning streak of the season to date….at two. It’s been up and down thus far.

– The last game in Surrey saw the birth of Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy, and Josh Hansen as a line combination. Beginning with that game, the three have combined for 16 points.

– Both of Tanner Cochrane’s goals this season have been game winners, with a GWG this past Friday against Powell River, and the second matchup with Surrey earlier this month.

– While mentions of the big ice surface in Surrey occur enough that it could incite a drinking game for those listening to the broadcast, the Chiefs’ impressive penalty kill will be tested. Chilliwack surrendered two with a man down back on September 14th. They have allowed just three powerplay goals to the opposition this season.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 23.33 %/Penalty Kill – 90.91%

Surrey – Powerplay – 12.82% / Penalty Kill – 81.82%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Ride Better Effort To Win Over Kings

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Austin Plevy’s two powerplay goals in the third period helped ice the Chiefs victory. Photo: Garrett James

The narrative going into Friday night’s game for the Chiefs was pretty simple – Just… better.

Just. Play. Better.

And you know what?

They did. It was a good job, and a good effort in a 3-0 victory over the Powell River Kings from Mitch Gillam on out. As always, you can read JB’s breakdown here.

As for what I saw:

– It’s been evident over the course of the first five games, and it was on display tonight: This team is pretty deep on the back end. Cooper Rush couldn’t go this evening, as he’s dealing with a lower body injury. Shea Laurent left this game early for a hit from behind on Powell River’s Teagan Waugh – And not once did I think at any point the Chiefs were in any duress on the blueline. Ben Masella and Eric Roberts both had steady nights. Ben Israel showed great vision on a cross seam pass to Austin Plevy for the third Chilliwack goal, Alex Perron-Fontaine got on the scoresheet again, and David Thompson was his usual workhorse self.

– Talked about finish and lackthereof offensively for Chilliwack going into this game. If you were in the building for Tanner Cochrane’s second of the season, or Austin Plevy’s third of the season, those two goals were about as ‘finish’ as it gets.

– The Chiefs also hit three crossbars in this game. Goals will come.

– If this team can combine consistent scoring with Gillam’s goaltending, toughness at 5 on 5, and a continually solid penalty kill that was perfect on a night where they were two men down two seperate times? Uh-oh.

– Gillam’s save on J.P. Villneuve’s shorthanded breakaway in the second period to preserve a 1-0 lead was his biggest of the night.

– Luke Esposito finished with one assist. He also finished with more than one blocked shot, most of which came on the penalty kill. That’s some valuable stuff from a front-line guy. All the penalty killers played the shooting lanes well on this night.

– We got the full Austin Plevy experience tonight. Firey play. A (misconduct) penalty that should have been avoided. Two goals, including one laser off the cross-seam pass from Ben Israel, and one boisterous Ovechkin-esque celly*, going to the drop-to-one-knee-sweeping-fist-pump that all the kids go with nowadays.

– Kings coach Kent Lewis will be shaking his head over the two costly penalties that led to the Plevy goals to salt the game away for Chilliwack in the third. Credit the Chiefs for capitalizing.

– The winning goal tonight? Scored by Tanner Cochrane. Against his old team.

* For the uninformed, ‘celly’ is short for ‘celebration’. Part of the sport’s lexicon now.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A Clash With The Kings

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (2-2-0-1) Vs. Powell River Kings (3-2-0-2)

(Prospera Centre – 6:30 pregame show/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

For the only time this season, the Powell River Kings will visit Prospera Centre to face the Chiefs. I use the phrase ‘only time’ loosely of course, as the Kings were here for the BCHL Showcase, but the road has been busy for the four time Coastal Conference Champs – Eight of their first ten games this month take place away from Hap Parker Arena on the Sunshine Coast.

Two of Powell River’s three victories have come at home, a two game sweep of the Cowichan Valley Capitals last week. This game in Chilliwack for Kent Lewis’ team is part of a three game jaunt that sees them play in Penticton Saturday, and Trail on Sunday.

With all that said….


– Can the Chiefs use home ice to their advantage this evening? Four games at home thus far have yielded two victories, and nearly the entire month of October will be played away from Prospera Centre.

– With a rematch of the Fred Page Cup Final on the horizon for the Kings against Penticton on a night where the Vees will be doing all their banner-raising, is there a possibility that Powell River could overlook the Chiefs a little bit?

– The buzz with this team early on is where the offense is going to come from. Only once in five games have the Chiefs scored three times or more. Mitch Gillam in goal gives this team a chance every night, but asking him to backstop 2-1 victories all the time can be a little taxing.

– Just to be clear: The Chiefs don’t have trouble generating chances offensively. It’s ‘finish’ that’s been an early season hurdle. ‘Early Season’ is also the operative term here.

– Josh Hansen, Luke Esposito, and Austin Plevy have combined for 12 points as a unit in the last three games. In those three games, Chilliwack has scored eight times. That’s a large percentage.

– Chilliwack’s depth on the blueline has been big so far this season, and the blueline group will be busy with a trio of Kings forwards that have put up some decent early season numbers. Matt Scarth, J.P. Villeneuve, and Luke Nogard all have amassed six points each in the Kings’ first seven outings.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.74 %/Penalty Kill – 88.89%

Powell River – Powerplay – 21.21% / Penalty Kill – 80.00%

Extra Stuff:

– Chiefs alumnus, and lead guitarist for the band Rev Theory, Julien Jorgensen will be in attendance.

You know….these guys…..


Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Great Moments In Chiefs Photography: Gillam Larceny/Espo and Plevy Get Photobombed

September 27, 2012 1 comment

The Chiefs get back on the ice Friday night at Prospera Centre, as the Powell River Kings come to town.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered a couple of photos over the past couple weeks that deserve some extra attention – A new feature on the blog I like to call –

Great Moments In Chiefs Photography

PHOTO # 1: Mitch Gillam doing Mitch Gillam things.

The following was tweeted by the man himself Wednesday night. Credit to Ken Goudswaard of the Chilliwack Times for the photo, because it’s awesome.


As I said in the game recap from Saturday night, this might have been the save of the year in the BCHL thus far. It looked great through the crimson and gold lenses, anyway.

This is how it sounded as it happened from our vantage point:


Cam Campbell, who in the fourteen months I’ve known him, is never at a loss for words. When this save was made, he stood there with both hands on his head for a few seconds. I’d never seen that before. This was a moment.

I’m glad it’s been captured.

PHOTO #2: Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy get photobombed

Garrett James Photography


This photo was published earlier in the month. I like it for a few reasons.

1.) This was taken after Luke Esposito’s (#9) first BCHL goal. The smile on his face would indicate that your first BCHL goal is a pretty big deal.

2.) You can see Chiefs captain David Thompson in the foreground. Why is he not hustling over to join Espo, Plevy, Josh Hansen (behind the official) and Ben Israel in the celebration? Because after the goal was scored, Thompson hustled over to the crease, scooped up the puck for Esposito, and brought it back to the bench to mark the occasion. Sign of a good teammate, and Captain.

3.) I’m fairly certain that the Surrey Eagle in the photo is Beau Orser, looking up at the scoreboard in disdain. This tally came in the midst of a four goal outburst for the Chiefs in the second period of the game. The outburst cost Surrey on this night.

4.) The best part of the photo, however, is in the far right corner behind the glass. Sharply dressed in his suit, is Chiefs strength and conditioning coach Paul Nicolls.

Why so serious, Coach? Espo just scored.

Is this just a case of a former Chiefs player seeing a Surrey uniform, and getting riled up all over again? Is he plotting something?

An impressive unintentional photobomb if I’ve ever seen one.

(Never change, Paulie. You beauty.)

This has been an installment of –

Great Moments In Chiefs Photography

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

From Monday Night – Mitch Gillam – Ryan Donohoe

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Credit: Garrett James Photography

As you may know, ‘Sports Talk Live’ is every Monday night from Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar at 6pm on 89.5 The Hawk.

This past Monday marked the first show of the new season, and I brought in Chiefs teammates and good friends Mitch Gillam and Ryan Donohoe to discuss the season to this point.

As you can see, it’s a long piece. You should probably go make a sandwich or something.

Among the highlights:

– As this show took place on Mitch’s 20th birthday, we find out he got a lava lamp once.

– Ryan’s apparent Starbucks affliction.

– Me trying to convince Mitch that mayyyybe he could use a little more run support out there. Like the good teammates they are, neither he nor Donohoe took the bait.

– Towards the end, me trying to spearhead a #Gillaming meme. (I hope to come up with a good photo of Mitch’s pregame ritual soon. Puts #Tebowing, #Griffining, and #Landeskoging to shame. Stay tuned.)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Grizzlies Double Up On Chiefs

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The Chiefs played just their second game in a week Saturday night at Prospera against the Victoria Grizzlies.

Normally, this is where I’d give you the old “They came out flat as a result of the time off” cliche, but in fact, it was quite the opposite. The team was ready to go. They played well at times, but not enough in a 4-2 loss on home ice.

As always, you can check out JB’s rundown by clicking here.

As for what I saw:

– Special teams played a big part of the story. The Chiefs registered both goals on the man-advantage. Their first powerplay goal was created on some great work by Austin Plevy. Plevy was able to knock the puck out of the reach of Victoria defenseman Nolan De Jong with a deft little poke check. As that happened, Josh Hansen had the presence of mind to kick the loose puck up to his stick behind the Grizzly goal, show patience at the side of the net, and send the wraparound attempt to the far post.

These instances can all be filed under ‘Working Effectively In A Phone Booth’.

– For those keeping score at home: Josh Hansen has now scored in three straight games.

– Hansen deserved an assist on the Chiefs second goal, also on the powerplay, when he provided a screen in front of Grizzlies’ goaltender Mike Stilliadis, allowing Cooper Rush’s point shot to find it’s way through. I’ll just go out on a limb here and suggest that Hansen is playing some of his best hockey as a Chief at the moment.

– The Fitzgerald triplets were as effective for the Grizzlies on this night as I thought they would be. Gerry, Leo, and Myles continued to buzz, and you always knew when they were on the ice. It was Gerry’s goal that tied the game in the second period at one after the Chiefs were caught running around in their own zone, and had failed to clear the puck.

– I was impressed with the play of Victoria defenseman D.J. Jones. Jones finished with a goal (the GWG) and an assist, played big minutes, and quarterbacked the powerplay for stretches. Jones played in Penticton last year on the RBC Cup Champs, and was lost in the shuffle behind Mike Reilly and Troy Stecher. Jones will shine now that he’s out of that shadow. That’s what makes junior hockey so great.

– Stilliadis’ save on Luke Esposito early in the third period on a 2 on 1 with the game still tied at 2 – That was a biggie. You need big saves to win on the road in this league. The Grizzlies’ netminder made them when he had to, including a late Chiefs powerplay in the third while the hometown side was down by a goal.

– Mitch Gillam on Chase Kaiser in the second period – might be the stop of the year. In the league. Not just in my mind. Nolan De Jong did a terrific job hitting Kaiser with a cross seam pass from the right circle to the goalmouth on the left side. Gillam had committed, Kaiser dragged it across to finish the deke – and Gillam reached back with the glove to snatch it off the goal line as he was moving in the other direction.

– Finally, in one of the weirder things I’ve seen, Trevor Hills would have had a breakaway from the redline in about halfway through the second period – except the puck somehow got caught up in his equipment after he created the turnover at centre ice. I’ll remember the image of Hills coasting in on goal while trying to fish the puck out of his pants for some time to come.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Welcome Victoria Grizzlies

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy, Ben Israel and the Chiefs welcome Victoria Saturday. Photo: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (2-1-0-1) Vs. Victoria Grizzlies (3-1-0-1)

(Prospera Centre – 6:30 pregame show/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

It’s been a week, but it feels a little longer than that since the last time the Chiefs saw some game action.

The Victoria Grizzlies pay a visit to Prospera Centre, something they did not do last season. These two teams did meet early last year at Bear Mountain Arena on the Island. The Chiefs blew a 5-2 lead, losing 7-5 as part of a disheartening early season road trip.

But that was almost a full calendar year ago. A lot has changed. Victoria has a new regime, led by Vancouver Island Sports & Entertainment Ltd.

The new ownership made it clear they were serious about winning when they brought in veteran head coach Bill Bestwick, a BCHL staple. Bestwick won two BCHL Championships, and the 2004 Doyle Cup with the Nanaimo Clippers. He was let go in 2011 by the Clippers amidst a fairly large outcry. Bestwick has made an impact already with a largely overhauled roster, winning three of their first five games. The Grizz dropped their first game in regulation Friday night in Surrey by a score of 3-2.

Victoria has been led by the Fitzgerald triplets offensively – Gerry, Leo, and Myles have combined for seven goals and fourteen points in five games. The triplets were acquired from Prince George in the off-season. The three teamed up for eleven points against the Chiefs last season as members of the Spruce Kings.

Chilliwack is boasting an impressive trio of their own right now – Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy, and Josh Hansen enjoyed a productive weekend against the Surrey Eagles September 14th and 15th, combining for three goals and seven points in those two games.

The Chiefs will also look for another productive night from centre Spencer Graboski, who got things started against the Eagles last Saturday night, and finished with a goal and an assist.


– I watched most of Victoria’s game in Surrey Friday. The Grizzlies dominated the first period before falling behind 2-0 due to some unfortunate breaks. This game for Victoria is the 2nd of a three game  weekend trip, which wraps up in Coquitlam Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs have had a week inbetween games, which sets up one of my favourite cliches – “We’ll learn a lot about this game in the first ten minutes”.

– As their numbers would suggest, Victoria leans heavily on the Fitzgerald triplets to generate offensive chances, and put pucks in the net. Chilliwack’s deep crew along the blueline boasts three players (David Thompson, Alex Perron-Fontaine, Shay Laurent) who recieved plenty of experience dealing with the Fitzgeralds in their games with the Spruce Kings last season.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 15.00 %/Penalty Kill – 92.00%

Victoria – Powerplay – 19.23% / Penalty Kill – 77.78%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A Visit From Doug Messier

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

In Saturday night’s 4-2 victory over the Surrey Eagles, the Chilliwack Chiefs scored four times in the second period. One of those markers was tallied by Luke Esposito. It was his first BCHL goal.

Even better, he had some family in town to see it.

Luke’s grandfather is Doug Messier, an accomplished player and coach in his own right. (If you recognize that last name – Yes, he’s Mark’s father. Impressive bloodlines.)

Part of Messier’s coaching odyssey included a stint with the St. Albert Saints of the AJHL. Chiefs Head Coach/GM Harvey Smyl spent a couple years in St. Albert on Messier’s teams in the early 80’s. Harvey has said that Messier’s influence has played a major role in his own coaching career.

I was fortunate to have Doug Messier join me during the second intermission of Saturday night’s game at Prospera Centre.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Four Goal 2nd Period Boosts Chiefs

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack’s Mitch Skapski fends off Surrey Eagles’ Austin Bietenback during the Chiefs 4-2 victory at Prospera Centre. Photo Credit: Garrett James

The Chiefs earned their second victory of the season on Saturday night at Prospera Centre, 4-2 over the Surrey Eagles. Jacob Bestebroer broke things down on the team’s website from a play by play standpoint. You can read that here.

As far as what I saw….

I’d discuss the first period of this game, but it wasn’t very good from either team’s standpoint. It was boring, frankly. Soupy Campbell and I said so on the broadcast.

And then the second period started. That’s where this post will start.

– Josh Hansen played on the top line with Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy for the second game in a row. Those three caused some matchup problems for the Eagles over the course of the weekend. Austin Plevy had one of the plays of the game when he stripped Eagle defenseman Craig Wyzsomirski of the puck behind the Surrey goal, gathered the puck, and in a blink, centred it to Hansen, who tapped the puck between the pads of Eagle ‘keeper Glenn Ferguson.

Hansen has played everywhere in the lineup from the start of the preseason, and has looked at home with Plevy and Esposito.

– Luke Esposito had a strong game, and broke through Saturday, scoring his first BCHL goal with family in the stands. Espo was buzzing in the Surrey game Friday, and it seemed like it was a matter of time before he bagged one.

– Mitch Gillam: 41 saves. .949 save percentage/1.95 GAA through four games. Next.

– If Gillam is locked in, (Which he will be just about every time out) and the boys in front of him can put four goals on the board, the Chiefs will win a lot of hockey games. Plain and simple.

– Ben Israel continues to play well along the blueline for Chilliwack. Makes good decisions with the puck, and finished the night with an assist. He’s had one in each of his first two games.

– Another Ben on the Chilliwack blueline, Masella, ran over Surrey’s Colton Mackie just inside the blueline as he was pinching in. Masella’s been solid as well, and was named the Fortis Energy Player of the Game on the night.

– Spencer Graboski had one of his better nights, getting things started with the goal in the second period, and then doing great work to drive the puck to the net, setting up Tanner Cochrane’s rebound goal to make it 3-0 in the second period. Graboski was the game’s first star.

– It was after that goal however, that the Chiefs let their foot off the gas, and had a few bad shifts, allowing Surrey’s Brett Mulcahy to put the Eagles on the board and take back some of the momentum. A timeout was called by Harvey Smyl to settle everybody down. They eventually did.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Welcome Surrey For Home Opener

September 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Mitch Gillam and the Chiefs clash with Trevor Cameron and the Surrey Eagles Saturday night at Prospera Centre. Photo Credit: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (1-1-0-1) Vs. Surrey Eagles (2-1-0-0)

Prospera Centre – 6:30 pregame show/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

Now that the Chiefs have Prospera Centre back to themselves, and the Showcase has come and gone, the “Real” season can begin, as tonight marks the home opener against the Surrey Eagles.

If Friday night in Surrey was any indication, these two teams should put on another quality show. It was a tough one for the Chiefs to swallow at the South Surrey Arena, seeing a (dreaded) two goal lead evaporate in a 3-2 double OT defeat.


The special teams battle: Surrey got back into Friday night’s contest on the strength of two powerplay goals. Far more importantly however, the Chiefs put up the ol’ 0-fer on the man-advantage, failing to capitalize on five opportunities. Chilliwack also went to the box seven times for the third straight game Friday night.

– Chilliwack’s lineup should be about the same from Friday. The only question mark is forward Trevor Hills, who hurt his neck in the first period after taking a hard hit into the boards. While he left the ice under his own power, he did not return. That leaves the coaching staff with two options if Hills is unfit to play: dressing seven defensemen, with Eric Roberts the extra blueliner in, or have Chilliwack’s Devon Allenby, who’s currently on the team’s reserve roster. That will be a decision made close to the warmup tonight.

– Luke Esposito was buzzing in the offensive end of the rink last night, and is due for his first BCHL goal. Surrey ‘keeper Glenn Ferguson made a pair of nice stops on Espo in Friday’s game. Meanwhile, the line of Esposito, Austin Plevy, and Josh Hansen was effective in both PP and 5 on 5 situations last night. Hansen had one goal playing with those two, and could have had two more on setups from Plevy on the powerplay if not for Ferguson.

– NOTE: Former Canuck player/coach/GM Pat Quinn will be on hand to drop the first puck, and sign autographs in the Prospera Centre concourse before the game. The first 1,000 fans through the door will recieve Chiefs schedule fridge magnets.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 16.67 %/Penalty Kill – 90.48%

Surrey – Powerplay – 23.81% / Penalty Kill – 93.75%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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