North For Two: Chiefs Meet Spruce Kings
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.
Chilliwack – Powerplay – 20.54 %/Penalty Kill – 87.60%
Prince George – Powerplay – 28.09%/ Penalty Kill – 82.19%