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Game Day: Chiefs Host Vipers

October 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (6-2-1-1) Vs. Vernon Vipers (3-4-0-3)

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

The Chiefs are unbeaten in five games, and will try to push it to six against the Vernon Vipers, in what will be the last home game for a little while. Seven games on the road follow this one tonight.

In sheer entertainment value, it might be tough to top a comeback like the one we saw in the third period Wednesday against Langley. However, everyone from the coaching staff on down knows they can’t dig holes 3 goals deep every night.

The Vipers have been slow coming out of the gate with just three wins in ten games. It probably should have been four, but they squandered a tying goal with ten seconds left in the third period against the Silverbacks before falling in double overtime.

THINGS I’M KEEPING IN MIND:

– Dating back to the beginning of last season, the Vipers have been, in a word, lousy on the road. 9-25-0-2 going back to last September away from home, including 0-6 at Propsera Centre. They also dropped both games at the Showcase in September. But they’ve got some slick new road uniforms. So there’s that.

– Chilliwack will be a rested group, having not played Friday night. Not the same for Vernon, as last night’s giveaway will linger a little bit. Given the Vipers road woes, it will best serve the Chiefs to come out strong in the first ten minutes, and set the tone, as boring and cliche as that sounds.

– On paper there’s no reason for Vernon to be this slow out of the gate. They can still be dangerous with the likes of Adam Tambellini and Aaron Hadley up front. Brett Corkey returned on the blueline this year. Jedd Soleway, Geoff Crisfield, Ryan Renz, and Colton Sparrow are all experienced holdovers from the year before. Getting the powerplay going could help, as the Vipers are just 4 for 39 with the extra man so far this season.

– The Chiefs, and head coach Harvey Smyl continue to stress ‘It’s About Us’ right now, regardless of who lines up across from them. There’s a lot to like about this group at the moment. Luke Esposito enters play tonight fourth in league scoring. He, along with linemates Austin Plevy and Josh Hansen have combined for one of the best trios in hockey early on.

– Ryan Donohoe said earlier in the season that there was a bit of an adjustment coming over from the OJHL. He seems to have adjusted, scoring four goals in his last three games, and logging big minutes centering the second line, contributing with his contagious energy on the ice, and taking big faceoffs.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 19.61 %/Penalty Kill – 87.50%

Vernon – Powerplay – 10.53% / Penalty Kill – 78.26%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Catching Up – Three Friday Links

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Photo: Garrett James

Stumbled across a few things over the last little while. Realized that I didn’t post them here yet, so I’m making up for lost time.

Eric Welsh of the Chilliwack Progress had this profile on Chiefs rookie Mitch Skapski this week. You can learn that Mitch (pictured above) is a fan of Ellen DeGeneres, among other things.

Former Chief Malcolm Gould tallied an assist in his first game as a Michigan Tech Husky in a 6-2 win over Brock on October 6th. This piece from Stephen Anderson of the Daily Mining Gazette on Gould was penned a few days before.

Also found this tidbit on ex-Chief David Bondra from Brian Calloway of the Green&White blog at Michigan State University. David registered an assist in his first game as a Spartan on October 8th in a 6-1 win over Windsor. The Spartans are in Minnesota this weekend for a pair of games against the Gophers.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

The Comeback

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s a time of year dominated by playoff baseball, where big fat guys in XXXXL Yankee jerseys wear their rally caps in hope of some late game magic (Which happened Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, oddly enough.)

The Chilliwack Chiefs fans had their rally caps on Wednesday night at Prospera Centre, hoping for some 3rd period magic against the Langley Rivermen.

Oddly enough, magic happened. Sports are funny sometimes.

As always, you can read JB’s detailed breakdown from the team’s website right here. So as not to be awake for the next eight hours writing this thing, here’s what i’ll remember  from Chiefs 4, Rivermen 3:

– I’d like to make one thing perfectly clear – The Langley Rivermen will be an absolute beast all season. The size up front, the skill they possess, the goaltending of a James Barr (who was tremendous for about 53 minutes this evening) the physical play along the blueline….This isn’t Last Year for that team. They’ll learn from this, and be better. No question.

– During the second intermission of Wednesday’s game, with the Chiefs trailing 3-0 at the time, I recieved the following tweet from former Chief assistant captain Michael Spring:

Now, anyone who followed the team last year knows that it was usually Michael Spring to provide such things. Approxiamently half an hour after Cam Campbell suggested on the broadcast the possibility of flying Spring out here from Minnesota and doctoring his birth certificate – Luke Esposito struck, scoring twice, including one on a shorthanded 2 on 1 to cut the deficit down to a single goal. The team found some juice after that first Espo marker, but they really came to life after the second one.

– Ryan Donohoe’s tying goal moments later was quite the sequence, starting with Spencer Graboski’s behind the back pass from the left wing boards to Ben Masella. Masella isn’t exactly known for jumping into the rush, but he did on this occasion, bringing in Graboski’s pass, and filtering it over to a hard charging Donohoe, who drove the net at the right side of the crease, and finished off a forehand deke to square the game at 3.

– Good placement from Graboski on the go ahead marker with 2:38 left. Low and to the blocker side on Barr, much like Esposito’s second goal of the period.

– The quasi line brawl in the third period. (That tells you everything you need to know about this game. There was a near line brawl, and it’s pretty much an afterthought.) However, Langley’s Austin Azurdia jumped Garrett Forster behind the Rivermen goal after Forster was jamming away at a rebound. There may have been a sucker punch from Azurdia thrown in there too for good measure. Not a very savvy political move when you’re trying to run for Mayor.

– Chilliwack is now unbeaten in five games, having won four of them. They were in tough from the beginning of the second period ’till thirteen minutes into the third on Wednesday. They know they’ll have to be better for 60 as the Vernon Vipers come to town Saturday. That Saturday game also marks the last home contest for awhile, as the boys will embark on  a seven game road trip beginning October 19th in Nanaimo.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

New Chiefs Battle The Old Chiefs – Langley’s Here

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Luke Esposito enters Wednesday’s play tied for third in the BCHL with 10 assists.

Chilliwack Chiefs (5-2-1-1) Vs. Langley Rivermen (5-2-0-1)

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

While it is early, the Mainland Division is seperated by exactly two points to this junction of the season. There are four teams with five victories, and two of them clash at Prospera Centre Wednesday as the Chiefs battle the Langley Rivermen.

Both teams are coming in with the success of the weekend behind them. Langley knocked off the Prince George Spruce Kings twice over the Thanksgiving weekend, while the Chiefs beat Coquitlam Friday night, and followed that up with 63 shots on goal in a tie with the Express Saturday at Prospera Centre.

THINGS I’M KEEPING IN MIND:

– Hey, did you know that the Rivermen won their most recent game over Prince George with .3 seconds on the clock thanks to a late goal by Austin Azurdia?

It’s been shown on every major network/blog/website/bus station terminal in the last 48 hours.  Azurdia also claimed the BCHL Player Of The Week award, where he amassed five points in the weekend set with Prince George.

Meanwhile, Chilliwack’s Josh Hansen (perhaps a little more quietly) put together a three goal, six point weekend against the Coquitlam Express, enough to give the local boy honorable mention for the weekly nod.

But…I mean….just look at Azurdia’s toe drag!

– Since September 14th, when Josh Hansen, Luke Esposito, and Austin Plevy were put on a line together, a span of seven games:

Austin Plevy – 11 points

Luke Esposito – 11 points

Josh Hansen – 11 points

Yup. Might want to check those three. Plevy has at least a point in seven of nine regular season contests. Esposito is tied for 3rd in the BCHL with ten assists, quickly asserting himself as one of the league’s top playmakers.

– Plevy will also be lining up against his former team for the first time this season.

– Langley has played with eleven forwards and seven defensemen for the last couple games, something the Chiefs have become very acustomed to over the last couple weeks. Eric Roberts and Ben Israel have been the last two blueliners forced to sit due to the numbers game on the back end. Kiefer McNaughton has adjusted nicely in his first two games as a Chief, bringing his WHL experience to the blueline.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.00 %/Penalty Kill – 88.24%

Langley – Powerplay – 22.92 / Penalty Kill – 80.00%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Fit To Be Tied

October 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Ryan Donohoe scored twice Saturday in a 4-4 tie with Coquitlam. Photo: Garrett James

…That’s the first time this season I’ve gotten an opportunity to use that lame headline. Hopefully it will be the last. I loathe shootouts, but think ties are weak too. Bummer. Read JB’s game recap here. Lots of minute detail.

With turkey now on my mind, here’s what stuck out according to This Guy on Saturday night at Prospera Centre in a 4-4 tie between the Chiefs, and Coquitlam:

– Cole Huggins wasn’t very good Friday. He was much better Saturday. The Coquitlam ‘tender faced 63 shots in this game, including 13 in the overtime session, and a penalty shot in double overtime, getting the best of Luke Esposito. Three saves throughout the game, all coming on 2 on 1’s at key times. The last one was the biggest, when he got across on Cooper Rush’s shot late in the second overtime to preserve the tie.

– Ryan Donohoe scored twice. He was as cranked up as it gets when he opened the scoring 1:25 into the game, after coming up just short on a pair of prior chances. Energy like that is contagious. Soupy and I felt it from our perch 9,000 feet in the air at Prospera.

– Of course, after all that energy was on display, the Express tied the game 25 seconds later when Alex Kerfoot was given way too much time cruising from behind the net to the front of the goal. Sports are funny sometimes.

– I don’t have the official faceoff numbers, but it certainly looked like the Express had the edge in the circle. That hurt the Chiefs at times Saturday.

– Harvey Smyl was tossed from this game in the second period after an apparent Luke Esposito goal was waved off. There were some iffy calls from the officials before they botched the call on the Esposito non-goal, but that was the moment that pushed it over the edge. Officials have a job to do, and they…uh…struggled at times (Two minutes for finishing your check in a heated divisional game!) – Once again, sports are funny sometimes.

– It’s fun to watch a hockey player when he has confidence. Josh Hansen is full of that right now. He had one rush to the net that featured an inside-out move on the defenceman, and a near finish on a deke to the far post. His goal in the third period was a big one, putting the Chiefs up 4-3 on a well placed shot to Huggins’ short side. Until…

– Coquitlam’s tying goal late in the third period when Alex Kerfoot, of all people,  managed to sneak behind everybody in the Chiefs zone, getting two chances on Mitch Gillam, burying the puck on the second opportunity, causing me (and possibly the Chilliwack bench) to react like Wolf ‘The Dentist’ Stanson when Russ Tyler unleashed the knucklepuck late in the Final of the Junior Goodwill Games.

That’s probably a good way to end. Happy Thanksgiving. Back at it on Wednesday night with the Langley Rivermen in town.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Express Redux

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Josh Hansen now leads the team in goals with five after two in last night’s win

Chilliwack Chiefs (5-2-0-1) Vs. Coquitlam Express (6-3-0-0)

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

Quick turnaround for the players. Quick turnaround for me. I’ll keep this simple.

– It’s not accurate or fair to suggest or predict that the Chiefs can score four goals in nine minutes in the opening period again. It is however, fair to suggest that the Chiefs can be just as physical and energetic on the forecheck like they were early on Friday night, setting the tone for an impressive road win in the process.

– It’s also not fair to suggest Cole Huggins (if he indeed starts) will have another shaky performance. The best netminder statistically going into Friday night’s game just didn’t have it on home ice, leading to Dan Urbani coming on in relief halfway through the opening frame. The Chiefs scored quality goals to be sure, but Huggins’ rebound control was not very good.

– As well as the Chiefs looked Friday, there were still some lapses at times. Coquitlam has too much talent up front for the Chiefs to afford lapses. You know the Express will want to come out strong after a downer night on their home ice.

– Cooper Rush, all 6’7 of him, got a few shifts at forward last night, as the Chiefs have continued to go with eleven forwards and seven blueliners out of nessecity.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.00 %/Penalty Kill – 89.13%

Coquitlam – Powerplay – 23.40 / Penalty Kill – 95.24%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Go For Six in Coquitlam

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Going into this one, it was being billed as a duel between two of the BCHL’s best goaltenders. A low scoring affair was expected by those making their way to Poirer in Coquitlam Friday night.

Mitch Gillam was just fine.

Cole Huggins? Uhhhhhh……

The Chilliwack Chiefs chased the league’s best goaltender (as the numbers before this game indicated) halfway through the first period after three goals on nine shots in a 6-3 victory that makes it three straight W’s for the local club.

Some of the vitals from tonight:

Josh Hansen – 2 goals, 2 assists

Luke Esposito – 4 assists

Austin Plevy – 1 goal, 2 assists

(I’ve stopped counting the number of points that Esposito, Plevy, and Hansen have compiled as a group since joining forces back on September 14th in Surrey. Just know that it’s a lot.)

Ryan Donohoe – The ENG late, for his first of the year, which means he can now visit a Starbucks.

Some other things I noticed on this night:

– While the Chiefs certainly took advantage of Coquitlam goaltender Cole Huggins’ shoddy rebound control, they earned their breaks to start this game. That’s something they didn’t do off the bat in Surrey last week. Chilliwack’s forecheck to begin this game was downright nasty, and it really set the tone.

– All the numbers they’re putting up aside, Esposito, Plevy and Hansen are doing this because their puck control has been impressive. The cycling along the boards and in the corners as a group has caused problems for the opposition, and drew a couple penalties on this night as well.

– Coquitlam went 2 for 7 on the powerplay, knocking down the penalty kill percentage a little, as if it matters on this night.

– Mathieu Tibbet scored his first of the season in this game. The Viola, Delaware product now has four goals in two games in Coquitlam.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Coquitlam Clash

October 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (4-2-0-1) Vs. Coquitlam Express (6-2-0-0)

(Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre – 6:30 pre game show/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

An important early-season Mainland Division weekend begins for the Chilliwack Chiefs Friday in Coquitlam against the Express. Chilliwack enters this game with some momentum, having won their last two games over Powell River, and Surrey. Last Friday’s effort against the Kings was the team’s best of the season, and they rallied around goaltender Josh Halpenny making his first start in Surrey to erase an early 2-0 deficit before Luke Esposito’s double overtime winner led to a happy bus on the way back home.

Coquitlam was projected to be one of the stronger teams in the Coastal Conference this season, and they’ve looked the part thus far, winning six of their first eight games, the best start in franchise history. Jon Calvano’s team responded to a dissapointing home loss to the Eagles September 28th with a pair of impressive victories on the island over Victoria and Nanaimo.

THINGS I’M KEEPING IN MIND:

– While the Chiefs earned the W in Surrey last Sunday, they did not get off to a very good start in the first period against the Eagles, and the game could have gone sideways very quickly. Coquitlam boasts some talented veteran forwards with John Siemer, Alex Kerfoot, Brady Shaw, and Mitch Nardi who can all produce. As cliche and boring as it sounds, the Chiefs have to establish their style in the first ten minutes, which will allow them a few more bounces to begin the game – something that didn’t happen in Surrey off the bat.

– I’ll just go ahead and compare the numbers between the weekend’s probable starters in goal to this point in the season:

Mitch Gillam (Chilliwack) 1.81 GAA/.953 SV%/1 shutout/3 wins in 6 starts

Cole Huggins (Coquitlam) 1.31 GAA/.959 SV%/2 shutouts/6 wins in 7 starts

– Soooo…Yeah. Pretty close. Go figure though – In the meeting between these two teams late in last year’s regular season in Coquitlam, Gillam was pulled, and Huggins stayed on for all six against in a wild 6-6 tie. Sports are funny sometimes.

– The Chiefs have killed 14 straight penalties going into this one. The only team in the league with a better penalty kill percentage wise than Chilliwack? Coquitlam. Special teams could certainly play a factor in both games of the home and home when you consider how close they are:

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 22.86 %/Penalty Kill – 92.31%

Coquitlam – Powerplay – 22.50 / Penalty Kill – 94.59%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Monday Conversation: David Thompson & Luke Esposito

October 4, 2012 Leave a comment

The Chiefs won their most recent game on a goal in double overtime by Luke Esposito. It came on a 2 on 1. David Thompson was with him on that rush. Naturally, I had both of them on ‘Sports Talk Live’ this past Monday night on 89.5 The Hawk.

Among other things, we briefly get into this past Sunday’s Eagles/Giants NFL game, (Thompson, from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, and Esposito from Greenwich, Connecticut are Eagle, and Giant fans respectively. David wore his Mike Vick jersey to Frankie’s and everything.) and how they didn’t see any of it due to timing/PVR mishaps.

Luke delves into the biggest change that comes when making the jump from Prep school to Junior A, and Thompson re-hashes a training session with a Seal Team 6 member at the Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp this past summer.

Like last week, it’s a long piece. You might want to put it on in the background while doing housework or something.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Alumni Stuff: Malcolm Gould

October 3, 2012 Leave a comment

The NCAA hockey season is getting started, and with that comes a new class of freshmen from all over, including the BCHL, and the Chilliwack Chiefs.

One of those Chiefs alumni is Malcolm Gould, who is joining forces with former BCHL rivals Jujhar Khaira (Prince George Spruce Kings) and Alex Petan (Coquitlam Express) on the Michigan Tech Huskies this season.

Malcolm committed to Tech last March after a 36 goal, 72 point regular season in 2011.

Here’s his Freshman Interview from michigantechhuskies.com

(Stick-tap to Fraser Rodgers for passing this clip along. Troll him on Twitter @VeesVoice.)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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