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Keepin’ It Mainland: Coquitlam Comes To Town

Josh Hansen scored his league leading 17th goal last night in Surrey. Photo: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (15-5-1-1 – 32 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Coquitlam Express (11-9-1-0 – 23 points, 4th in Mainland)

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

It’s another important divisional matchuup for the Chilliwack Chiefs, as the Coquitlam Express make their second visit to Prospera Centre this season.

The Chiefs come into tonight’s action boasting the longest winning streak in the league at five games. Coquitlam is going in the other direction, losers of three straight games, the most recent a 6-1 defeat to the Eagles in Surrey on Monday afternoon.

After finding the net 18 times during the first four wins of the streak, the Chiefs won Friday’s game in Surrey another way, scoring just twice. Their penalty kill was perfect, keeping the talented Eagles to the outside, and 0 for 6. Surrey had two powerplay opportunities late in the third period to tie the game, but the Chiefs PK unit wouldn’t budge. Chilliwack’s PK is now the best in the league on the back of that performance.

The Chiefs are 8-1-1 against Mainland division opponents this season. Coquitlam is 7-3-1 overall on the road this year.

THINGS I’LL BE KEEPING IN MIND:

– Coquitlam will look a little different from the last time these teams met on November 9th. Alex Kerfoot, Zach Pryzbeck, and Brandon Morely are all back from the World Junior A Challenge, and will immediatley provide stability to what was a much younger, inexperienced, banged up group on November 9th. Kerfoot scored twice in that 4-4 tie on October 6th at Prospera Centre. He should be a factor again tonight for a team that’s trying to right the ship.

– During the five game win streak, the Chiefs have opened the scoring four times. In facing a frustrated Coquitlam group, it may serve the Chiefs well to get the opening goal again tonight on home ice in front of another expected big crowd.

– In trying to maintain his BCHL scoring lead, Luke Esposito will be fending off Penticton’s Wade Murphy, West Kelowna’s Marcus Basara….and his own linemate, Josh Hansen. Hansen scored his 17th last night, and with it sits just two points back of Esposito for the overall lead in the league.

– It will be key for the Chiefs to continue those good vibes on the penalty kill, especially against an Express club that has some of their big point producers back. That includes Jon Siemer, who currently leads the team in points with 26. (Sitting three back of Esposito.)

– The Chiefs hold the best PK in the league at over 87%. Coquitlam is right behind them at 86% Who wins tonight’s special teams battle? Chilliwack had the edge in Surrey last night on special teams, and it made the difference. The Chiefs have also scored six shorthanded goals this season to lead the BCHL. David Thompson’s game winning goal came early in the second period while one man short.

– I’m expecting the Chiefs to come out strong tonight, as they’ll have a big crowd behind them, and the confidence of a team that’s won five straight. They can win while scoring just twice, and they can win even if Mitch Gillam has an off-night by his standards (as was the case against Penticton on November 10th.)

– On the other side, this Express club should be ready to go. They did not play on Friday night, and will be well rested. A 6-1 loss to the Eagles on Monday has stuck with them all week. Chilliwack is nine points ahead of them in the division standings, and they’ll need to start making some hay. Langley is right behind them for that fourth and final playoff spot.

Also –

In three seperate trips to the Poirier Sports & Leisure Complex, the Chiefs have mopped the floor with the Express this season. Chilliwack held leads of 3-0, 4-0, and 2-0 to begin those games.

Express ‘keeper Cole Huggins has been very good against the rest of the league, but is 0-3-1 against the Chiefs this year with a 4.52 GAA.

You can bet they’re aware of these things.

Some high intensity stuff tonight. Looking forward to it.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.95 %/Penalty Kill – 87.50%

Coquitlam – Powerplay – 17.53%/ Penalty Kill – 86.42%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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