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Game 2 In Prince George – Brief Thoughts

November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (18-6-1-1 – 38 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Prince George Spruce Kings (12-8-1-5 – 30 points, 3rd in Mainland)

(Prince George Coliseum – 6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

A few things:

– Congratulations to Chiefs forward Luke Esposito, as he is Harvard bound for next season. Harvard-Cornell is one of the oldest rivalries in hockey – there’s been 108 meetings between the two, so Espo and Mitch Gillam will square off a few times over the next four seasons.

– Chilliwack’s forward numbers are dwindling, as Jaret Babych probably won’t go. That means the Chiefs will likely go with nine forwards tonight. Fatigue could be a factor, but injuries and adversity are all part of it. They’ll just have to battle.

– You can probably guess that the Spruce Kings have last night’s defeat in mind. They’ll look to get off to a strong start in the first ten minutes. With fatigue a potential factor on the Chilliwack side, Dave Dupas will have his club ready to go. You would think anyway.

 

 

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Rated ‘R’ In P.G.

November 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The Chilliwack Chiefs are winners in eight of their last nine games. They’ve scored first in nine of their last ten. Their response to finishing a game with fifteen skaters, eight of them forwards, was a 6-0 victory.

These guys.

Austin Plevy scored twice….. Tanner Cochrane got himself a powerplay goal before getting himself booted for a hit from behind for the second straight game…. Brodyn Nielsen scored his first as a Chief…….. Trevor Hills quietly finished with three points……. Luke Esposito’s three assists has him back in the league scoring lead……..The penalty kill was perfect…. Mitch Gillam calmly made 31 saves for his second shutout this season.

Other Things:

– Prince George had a few chances in tight, but the Chiefs did a reasonable job keeping the Spruce Kings to the outside. P.G. outshot the Chiefs 31-29 in this game, but it didn’t feel that way.

– Liam McCloud started the game for Prince George, but left in the second period after a David Thompson shot caught him in….uh…well….below the waist. It was painful to watch, and you certainly felt bad for McCloud. Kirk Thompson came in to finish the game.

– Nice to see Brodyn Nielsen get one. He’s been working real hard as of late. A nice pass from Trevor Hills to set him up, as well.

– Austin Plevy scored on the Chiefs first shot, and Ben Israel’s power play goal was the first shot that Thompson saw after coming on in relief.

– Plevy’s second goal was absurd. After the puck was drawn forward off the faceoff outside the Prince George line, Plevy plowed his way forward, made a move to the outside on his off wing, and went with a backhand deke in tight to beat Thompson.

– Chilliwack only brought ten forwards on this trip to begin with. Jaret Babych had his clock cleaned in a fight with Kevin Guiltinan, and left halfway through the first period. Tanner Cochrane got the gate for the second consecutive game, and the Chiefs finished the game with eight warm bodies up front. Cooper Rush played a little forward late in the game.

– Fatigue might be an issue in the later stages of Friday’s game, but at least the Chiefs can bring in some AP’s for Sunday’s home match against Trail.

– For what it’s worth, the Chiefs are the BCHL’s best going into Friday’s play.

Boxscore

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

North For Two: Chiefs Meet Spruce Kings

November 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (17-6-1-1 – 36 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Prince George Spruce Kings (12-7-1-5 – 30 points, 3rd in Mainland)

(Prince George Coliseum – 6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

The Chiefs have played eleven games against the Mainland division this season. Thursday and Friday mark the first two times this year they’ll take on division rival Prince George.

As it was going into the home and home with the Merritt Centennials, the Chiefs opponent has lost three games in a row. Two of those losses for Prince George were at home in overtime to the Surrey Eagles. While these are just two games in 56, a division four-pointer is always important, and the Spruce Kings can gain significant ground with a good showing. They’ll be motivated.

THINGS I’LL BE KEEPING IN MIND:

– GM Mike Hawes and Head Coach Dave Dupas have rebuilt and reloaded for this season. Gone are Paul De Jersey, Jujhar Khaira, Michael Colantone, and the highly skilled Fitzgerald triplets.

That’s six forwards (who could all score) they had to replace.

It appears as though they have. In their place are young and talented players Chad Staley, Justin Rai, Jeremiah Luedtke, and Cam Lawson. Veteran Coltyn Hansen came over from Victoria in the Fitzgerald trade, and leads the forwards in scoring with 21 points. Newly acquired Jace Hennig from Coquitlam should provide some punch as well, and is very familiar with the Chiefs from battles earlier in the year.

– Prince George’s leading scorer over all is 18 year old defenseman Mitch Eden, with a very impressive 22 assists, and 24 points from the blue line. Chilliwack will have to limit him, as he’ll jump into the rush at times. Eden’s protected by a veteran defensive crew, including Trevor Esau, and the newly acquired Marc Begert (from Coquitlam) and Kevin Guiltinan (from Vernon). The Spruce Kings might be the only team in the BCHL to match the Chiefs when it comes to depth on defense.

– Harvey Smyl’s team continues to roll, winning seven of their last eight games. They’re a little banged up though. Centre Ryan Donohoe’s status remains up in the air, but only in terms of just how much time he’ll miss. Joining Donohoe on the shoulder issue list is defenseman Alexandre Perron-Fontaine. While APF’s shoulder issue isn’t nearly as serious, the Chiefs miss his mobility on the blueline, while Donohoe had just started to come into his own as a Chief, killing penalties and finding the net. Mathieu Tibbet missed Saturday’s game against the Centennials after being checked awkwardly into the boards against Merritt the night before.

– Spencer Graboski will get a bulk of Donohoe’s minutes, and he’s been playing well as of late, with a couple goals in the loss to Merritt Friday. Graboski is a four year BCHL veteran, and is from Quesnel, so he’ll be excited to suit up in front of friends and family who will make the short trip from Prince George for the two game set. He’s also playing in his 200th BCHL game tonight.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.54 %/Penalty Kill – 87.60%

Prince George – Powerplay – 28.09%/ Penalty Kill – 82.19%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Answering Back: Chiefs Edge Cents

November 25, 2012 Leave a comment

 

It’s not eight in a row, but seven out of eight works just fine right now for the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Jaret Babych scored the winning goal with less than five minutes on the clock in the third period, and the Chiefs knocked off a very game, gritty (as always) Centennial squad.

WHAT I SAW:

– Too many penalties in this one. Seven power plays for Chilliwack. Ten for Merritt. Ten. Tough for either team to get any flow going. The first period didn’t see any goals, a lack of quality scoring chances, and the only thing worth noting was a full-scale fracas in the Merritt zone, culminating with a John Saunders/Spencer Graboski fight. Tanner Cochrane left the game in the first period after taking a hitting-from-behind penalty. This was after he was speared by Centennial goaltender Tyler Steele during that fracas, and knocked into the boards while his helmet was off.

– It takes a tremendous effort to kill off nine of ten penalties successfully. Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy, Josh Hansen, Trevor Hills, David Thompson, Shay Laurent, Cooper Rush, Ben Masella, Eric Roberts, and Ben Israel all saw plenty of time on the PK. The forwards played the shooting lanes well, and the D had plenty of work down low with Merritt’s tough, skilled forwards. It’s the reason why Chilliwack’s penalty kill is the best in the league.

– And Mitch Gillam. He does a lot to kill penalties, too.

– Ben Israel had an up-and-down sequence in the second period to say the least. Luke Esposito opened the scoring in the second period five minutes in on a power play. Four minutes after that, Israel picked up the puck in his own zone behind the net, and carried it right out in front – the cardinal sin. Sebatian Pare cashed in off the turnover to tie the game at one. Instead of sitting Israel after the turnover, the coaching staff kept him out there. Israel picked up an assist on Austin Plevy’s go-ahead goal on the power play just thirty eight seconds later. He looked as happy during the celebration as anybody. Give him credit there.

– Plevy’s pass from behind the net, and Esposito’s finish on his power play goal to open the scoring. Nice.

– Chiefs Captain David Thompson was the first star tonight. He made a nice play at the line to keep the puck onside, leading to Babych’s winner, and was constantly out to kill penalties, aside from battling with Merritt’s top line for most of the night. He was the definition of ‘Workhorse’. The rest of the D core certainly followed his lead.

– I liked the sequence on the game winning goal. Thompson made a play in tight to keep in onside. Garrett Forster showed good vision to work the puck across from the left circle to Jaret Babych. Babych kicked the puck to his stick and quickly fired all in one motion. It snuck under the pad of Tyler Steel for the winner.

– Finally, 2,779 were in attendance at Prospera Centre tonight. A great crowd, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Boxscore

JB’s Recap

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Let’s Do This Again: Chiefs / Cents From Prospera

November 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (16-6-1-1 – 34 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Merritt Centennials (13-8-1-1 – 28 points, 2nd in Interior)

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

I’ll keep this brief as to not repeat myself too much, as these teams met just 24 hours ago. Click here for the recap on a 5-3 Centennial victory….Or…you could just scroll down the page a little bit….

Three Things:

– Work ethic came up in the pre-game chat with Chiefs Head Coach Harvey Smyl on Friday night. The Chiefs, for the first time in a little while, didn’t have enough of it on Friday in Merritt and it cost them. The second period really stood out in particular. Too many battles along the boards were lost by the Chiefs, and it cost them in the end, as they had to exert too much energy in trying to mount a comeback.

– This team has shown it’s ability to bounce back after losses. There’s only been one two game skid all season, and tonight presents the rare opportunity for the Chiefs to return the favour in their house against the Centennials less than 24 hours later.

– The size of the rink is bigger, sure, but the Chiefs were beaten in the fundamental elements of the game on Friday. There’s zero coralation between size of the ice surface, and the amount of hustle/heart/pride/intensity on the forecheck a team can bring on any given night. As simple as it sounds, if the Chiefs come ready to work, they’ll find themselves back in the win column. They have not lost at Prospera Centre since mid September. There’s a reason for that.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.55 %/Penalty Kill – 86.36%

Merritt – Powerplay – 29.35%/ Penalty Kill – 80.52%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Not Enough In Merritt

November 24, 2012 Leave a comment

The boring old adage is true- You can’t win them all.

Former Chief Derek Huisman was named the game’s first star, as he finished with two goals and an assist to help his new teammates to a 5-3 victory over the Chiefs on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Arena.

The loss for Chilliwack is their first in six games, and the Centennials snapped a three game losing streak of their own. Chilliwack still holds a four point lead over the Surrey Eagles for top spot in the Mainland Division.

HERE’S WHAT I SAW:

The Chiefs got out to a fast start, coming strong on the forecheck, and Spencer Graboski showed some good patience at the front of the net to outwait Tyler Steele for the game’s first goal. It was the seventh time in eight games that the Chiefs had scored first, and the team looked like they were off an running.

There were still almost 58 minutes to play though, and while the Chiefs continued the pressure through the first portion of the opening period, you could see that the Centennials weren’t panicking. Luke Pierce’s club knows their environment, and things would start to turn in the second period.

Before we go there, though, Mitch Gillam made a couple of beauty saves to keep it 1-0 for a time in the first period. The first was on a re-directed point shot where he had to contort his body and reach back with the glove to sweep it off the goal line. The second was his best of the night, a one timer save off Regan Soquila. Soquila took advantage of Huisman’s cross seam pass, and he one timed it for the far post, but Gillam was right there with the glove hand.

Dane Birks’ point shot on a powerplay found it’s way through a crowd along the ice, and through the five-hole of Gillam late in the period to tie the game.

Merritt owned the first half of the second period, beating the Chiefs to almost every puck. It really came down to desire and effort, and the Cents had more of it in the middle frame. Two quick goals in the period from Dylan Chanter and Huisman put the Chiefs behind the eight ball, and Sebastian Pare piled on to make it 4-1. It looked as though the roof was going to cave in.

Things got worse when Austin Plevy drove his man into the boards from behind, and was assessed a game misconduct. While Cam and I saw the hit, and the crowd wanted a call, the officials missed it, and it wasn’t until a conference was held that Plevy was shown the door. It was a tough spot to be in for the officials, who clearly missed the call, but folded amongst the wrath of the fans, and I’m sure the Centennial coaching staff. Once Plevy was booted, it was Harvey Smyl’s turn to get on the officials’ case, and I don’t blame him.

This compounded problems for the Chiefs forward unit, as Ryan Donohoe left in the first period with a shoulder injury, and Mathieu Tibbet was checked hard into the boards in the third, busted open, and missed the final 12 minutes of the hockey game. Trevor Hills was moved up to the Hansen-Esposito line, and AP call-up Brandon Volpe played a little more than I’m sure he thought he might. Volpe handled himself well in his first game as a Chief within that tiny ice surface.

After Esposito had given the Chiefs a fighting chance with a power play goal late in the second, the Chiefs came alive to start the third period, showing a tenacity on the forecheck that just wasn’t there in the middle frame. Harvey Smyl kept the shifts short in the third out of necessity, and Chilliwack played with a little more energy.

Spencer Graboski fired home his second on a five minute powerplay halfway through the third, and the Chiefs were back in it. The five minute PP came from Brett Fletcher’s hit on Tibbet that cut him open in the Chilliwack zone. Try as they might though, the Chiefs just couldn’t get that equalizer. Josh Hansen found himself open in the slot on that powerplay, but sent a shot just wide of the goal after Tyler Steele came out to challenge. It was the closest the Chiefs would get to tying the game.

Huisman added the empty-netter, and that was that.

This sets up the table quite nicely for the back end of the home and home series. Prospera Centre is the site on Saturday night as the Chiefs try to get back on the horse. Ryan Donohoe’s shoulder will be re-evaluated Saturday, and will miss some time. He went to the hospital for x-rays after he was helped off in the first period.

Alexandre Perron-Fontaine, Mitch Skapski, and Kiefer McNaughton did not play.

Boxscore

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Cramped: Chiefs In Merritt Friday

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

My charming view at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena

Chilliwack Chiefs (16-5-1-1 – 34 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Coquitlam Express (12-8-1-1 – 26 points, 2nd in Interior)

(Nicola Valley Memorial Arena – 7pm pregame/7:30 faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

One look at the above photo will tell you that the confines at the NVMA are….uh… less than comfortable.

The Merritt Centennials don’t seem to mind that. They use it to their advantage.

The Chilliwack Chiefs? They went 0-4 in this building last year. Less than comfortable.

Things have changed a little from last year, though. Chilliwack comes in Friday having won six straight games, ranked ninth in Canada, and the top record in the BCHL. There’s also a bus load of fans making their way up from Chilliwack for the night.

Merritt sits second in their conference, but has lost three straight games.

THINGS I’LL BE KEEPING IN MIND:

– Special Teams may decide this thing. It’s a matchup of the BCHL’s best power play (Merritt) against the BCHL’s best penalty kill. (Chilliwack) The Chiefs have successfully killed off 14 of their last 15 penalties, and continue to lead the league in shorthanded goals with six.

Familiar Face:  The Cents’ power play is clicking at an impressive 28%. Former Chief Derek Huisman has scored five of his seven goals with the extra man this year.

Regan Soquila is back for the Cents this year, and to the surprise of nobody, is their top point-getter with 23 on the season.

– The Chiefs have shown they can win by simply outscoring the opposition (The 5-4 win over Penticton November 10th comes to mind.) and by grinding it out on the road where style points get thrown out the window. Last Friday’s 2-1 triumph in Surrey was a prime example of that. They might have to win ugly to keep this streak alive. Given their record in Merritt last season, you can bet the players wouldn’t mind.

– Chilliwack has handled their division rivals this season to a tune of 9-1-1 against Mainland teams. Against the Interior? 2-4.

– It’s freezing in there. This has nothing to do with the actual game. It’s…. just freezing in there.

– Because the dimensions are smaller, it’s key for the Chiefs to create havoc on the forecheck. More than one Chiefs defenseman has said in the past that Merritt’s forwards are on you almost immediately when the puck gets dumped in. Makes sense for the Chiefs to try to beat Merritt at their own game in that regard.

– In keeping with the ‘Win Ugly’ narrative – Shoot from anywhere.  A hard shot from centre ice in that building is like a point shot in other places.

– “Opportunistic” will be one of the terms used throughout this weekend home and home. The Centennials have allowed just 60 goals this season, third best in the BCHL.

The best in that category? Chilliwack. The boys have allowed 57.

No room to move. Tight checking. Low scoring. That’s what’s happening.

But what do I know?

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.54 %/Penalty Kill – 87.60%

Merritt – Powerplay – 28.09%/ Penalty Kill – 82.19%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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