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Chiefs Get Santaguida’d

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m not messing around here. A few thoughts following Chilliwack’s 3-0 loss to Surrey, their third in the last five games:

– Surrey played a pretty solid road game. You have to give them credit, coming into Prospera Centre, in front of a tremendous crowd of 3369, and getting the better of the same team on consecutive nights.

– The Eagles were better in the third period once again. Three unanswered in the final period for the second night in a row. Matt Erhart’s club has found a way to win alot of games in the third period and overtime this year, and this was another one of those nights. The Eagles are showing that they’re going to be a tough out towards the end of the season and into the playoffs. No question about it.

– I thought Chilliwack’s effort was better Saturday than it was in the front half of the home and home. There were better quality scoring chances for the Chiefs on this night. Unfortunatley, they couldn’t get any finish, or luck on their side. Jaret Babych whiffed on a wide open net in the second period. Austin Plevy just missed on a back door pass in the second on a powerplay. Santaguida made a terrific save on Luke Esposito after Espo unleased the toe drag, and outwaited the Eagles goaltender as long as he could in the slot. There were plenty of ‘no cigar’ moments, and it had alot to do with Michael Santaguida. He was strong throughout.

– Surrey’s first goal was a tough one to surrender. Trevor Cameron beat every Chief on the ice to the front of the net after Gillam made the initial save on Devon Toews’ shot. Cameron scooped in the rebound, and the Eagles started to lock things down.

– Chilliwack started to press after that, opening up the ice, which led to some turnovers. The puck was also bouncing everywhere, and when Alex Perron-Fontaine’s flubbed clearing attempt led the way to Brady Shaw’s goal to put the Eagles up 2-0, it was time to turn out the lights.

Again, I liked the Chiefs’ effort for a large portion of this game. Much better than Friday. The bounces didn’t go their way, and the Eagles showed some great resolve for the second night in a row. The Chiefs will now get back to work this week in advance of two more home games next weekend against divisional opponents Coquitlam, and Langley.

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Boxscore

J.B.’s Recap

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Take Two: Chiefs/Eagles

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment

ChfVSSurrey

Chilliwack Chiefs (21-9-1-1 – 44 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Surrey Eagles (18-10-1-2 – 39 points, 3rd in Mainland)

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

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Three Things. Three Quick Things:

1. Chilliwack’s penalty kill is great. It is. They successfully killed off nine penalties last night. Nine. That’s padding the stats a little bit, which means they took too many at the South Surrey Arena. By the halfway point of the hockey game, they had been shorthanded for nearly half that time – 14 minutes. No wonder they lost battles in the third period and didn’t finish strong enough. ‘Between the whistles’ is key this evening.

2. Mitch Gillam’s great. He is. But defensive coverage needs to be a little better in front of him this evening. Too many quality scoring chances for an Eagles team that, frankly, doesn’t typically score a lot of goals. Surrey certainly had the lions share of the quality scoring chances on Friday.

3. Tonight is ‘Fill The Rink For the Food Bank’ night at Prospera. The set-up is pretty simple: When you come to the game, bring a non-perishable food item. That item will get you a ticket at the gate for five bucks. Pretty good entertainment deal right there. The hope is that the Chiefs can put up a good showing on home ice. They’re 9-4-1 at Prospera Centre this year, but they’ve also dropped two of their last three in front of the home crowd. I have a feeling they’ll bounce back tonight, especially now that the always convenient ‘Post Christmas Travel Legs’ excuse has been used up.

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Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 22.15 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 86.67% – (1st)

Surrey – Powerplay – 17.12 % (13th) / Penalty Kill – 79.31% – (13th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Come Up Short In Surrey

December 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s not the start to the season’s second half that the Chilliwack Chiefs would have wanted, falling 5-3 to the Surrey Eagles on Friday at the South Surrey Arena.

The loss is Chilliwack’s ninth in regulation this season, and while they still hold top spot in the Mainland division, there is no room to move. Prince George still sits four points back while idle Friday, and the Eagles closed the gap on the Chiefs in the division to five points going into Saturday’s rematch at Prospera Centre.

The Chiefs did open the scoring once again – on a goal scored by Mitch Gillam. You read that correctly. With the game scoreless, and a delayed penalty to the Chiefs. Gillam got a piece of a hard shot from Surrey’s Michael Stenerson. The puck caromed all the way around the boards and down the ice. It took a strange hop on the way down, and rolled into the open net for the first Chilliwack goal. Luke Esposito was originally credited with the goal, but it was later changed to Gillam in the first intermission.

That wasn’t the only goal of the first, as Nic Pierog and Trevor Hills traded markers, and the Chiefs took a 2-1 lead to the room after one.

The two teams traded goals in the second period. Stenerson would tie things at 2 on a powerplay goal while the Chiefs were down two men. Alexandre Perron-Fontaine would answer with a power play goal of his own to put Chilliwack back in front, and for the third game in a row, the Chiefs would have a one score advantage going to the third.

Unlike those previous two games however, the Eagles would score first in the final frame to tie the game. Jordan Klimek found Colton Mackie with a nice cross seam pass, and Mackie beat Gillam to make it 3-3. With Luke Esposito serving a ten minute misconduct for a hit to the head penalty in the third, and pleading from the box for a whistle so he could get back on the ice, Surrey’s Drew Best was able to shovel home a rebound for the go ahead goal with 3:52 left.

One questionable play in this game had Surrey’s big defenseman Craig Wyszomirski lay a big hit on Garrett Forster, and it looked like contact to the head. There was only a two minute penalty on the play, however, and the Chiefs weren’t able to take advantage.

There were plenty of whistles in this one. Surrey ended up with ten power plays, and while they only scored once, a team lacking a little depth right now like Chilliwack can’t afford to be playing short all the time.

It should be a spirited rematch at Prospera Centre on Saturday night as the Chiefs welcome the Eagles to their ‘Hood’ for ‘Fill The Rink For the Food Bank’ night. Fans can get in the door for five bucks if they bring a non-perishable food item.

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Quick Hits:

You had to figure at least one of these teams would be feeling the effect of a long term layoff, and unfortunately, it was Chilliwack for too much of this one. The team also got too caught up in what was going on after the whistle, and it cost them in the form of ten penalties.

They did kill off nine of them, which is very impressive, but…you know…there were ten overall. That’s too many for any team at any level, no matter how good.

Gillam made a couple big saves in the third period to preserve the one goal lead initially. Not much he could do on either the tying or winning goals for the Eagles. Defensive coverage has been a strong point for Chilliwack this season. It wasn’t so on this night far too often. Surrey had the better scoring chances.

Thankfully Garrett Forster was alright after taking that hit from Wyzomirski, but it was a hit to the head, and the officials missed it. They did. That’s hockey sometimes.

That game winner by Drew Best really took the wind out of the Chiefs sails with under four remaining. You could see it. Even with the goaltender out, they just couldn’t put it together for one final push.

I’m sure some of the unfriendliness we saw on Friday night at the S.S.A. will spill over to Saturday, but it will be up to the Chiefs to keep things between the whistles if they’re to win their 22nd game of the season.

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Boxscore

JB’s Recap

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Second Half Underway: Chiefs Battle Eagles

December 28, 2012 Leave a comment
David Thompson and the Chiefs return to the SSA Friday night. Photo: Garrett James

David Thompson and the Chiefs return to the SSA Friday night. Photo: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (21-8-1-1 – 44 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Surrey Eagles (17-10-1-2 – 37 points, 3rd in Mainland)

(South Surrey Arena  –  6:30 pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

With the holiday break in the rearview mirror, the second half of the season is officially underway, and there’s no better way to kick it off than with a divisional home and home between two longstanding rivals.

Friday’s game marks the fifth meeting of the year between the two clubs. Chilliwack has taken three of the first four games head to head, with the most recent coming back on November 16th. David Thompson and Josh Hansen were the goal scorers that night in a 2-1 victory.

The Chiefs are 12-2-1 against Mainland division opponents this year. They’ve also shown that they can play well on South Surrey Arena’s large ice surface. There will be plenty of room for both teams to get their legs back into the routine.

THINGS I’M KEEPING IN MIND:

– Chilliwack’s lineup will look a little bit different. Mitch Skapski was released by the team a week ago, and has since signed with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. Drawing in on Friday night will be the McHaffie twins, Scott and Spencer. The brothers from Surrey have appeared in one regular season game with the Chiefs this year, and boast BCHL experience and grit up front. They should also be excited to play in their hometown.

– Josh Hansen may not quite be ready to go yet, so Trevor Hills would slide right in on the top line with Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy. Hills is very comfortable in that top line role. Harvey Smyl thought that Hills was the team’s best player in the last game before the break, a 6-3 win in Langley where Hills collected four points.

-The Eagles are a defensively stingy group. They rely on that formula for success, because they don’t score as much as their division rivals. Surrey has found the back of the net 91 times this season, 16 less than the Chiefs with 107 goals for. Brady Shaw is the big scorer on this team, with 17 goals and 31 points. He along with Michael Stenerson and Demico Hannoun will be looked upon to carry the load against Chilliwack’s deep defensive core.

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I’ve already mentioned Chilliwack’s stellar record within the division. Nine of their next twelve come against Mainland opponents. This stretch over the next five weeks is a great opportunity to make a little more hay – and they have to make some hay, because as good as they’ve been head to head, there’s only a four point lead seperating Chilliwack from second place Prince George. They can’t let up with so many competitive clubs, which will be a positive thing for this team as they move through the season’s second half.

It should also be interesting to see what this roster will look like three weeks from now. While it’s clear that the Chiefs are for real with strong goaltending, a deep defensive core, offensive punch from the top line, and dependable special teams, this team may still be one ‘Move’ away from a Fred Page Cup run. Harvey Smyl did say in a recent interivew that he’d like to add one more scorer up front, but he’s very careful not to disrupt the balance of this team, or the dynamic in the room. And while the moves made at this level are done by and large with the future in mind, a ‘Win Now’ mentality might take hold by the January 10th deadline. Just something to watch for.

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Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 22.08 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 86.55% – (1st)

Surrey – Powerplay – 17.52 % (12th) / Penalty Kill – 79.46% – (13th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Rivermen In Mainland Clash

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Austin Plevy makes his return to the Langley Events Centre Saturday. Photo: Garrett James

Austin Plevy makes his return to the Langley Events Centre Saturday. Photo: Garrett James

Chilliwack Chiefs (20-8-1-1 – 42 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Langley Rivermen (11-13-0-5 – 27 points, 5th in Mainland)

(Langley Events Centre  –  6:45 pregame/7:15 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

It’s the final game for the Chilliwack Chiefs before the Christmas break, and they’ve got a big test on the road before the holidays, as the Langley Rivermen are the opponent Saturday.

Langley has been, in a word, lousy on the road, but they are a completely different beast at home, compiling a record of 9-2-0-2. They are also coming off a big win over Coquitlam on home ice Friday, a resounding 8-3 victory that saw their top line of Mario Puskarich, Evan Campbell, and James Robinson combined for 17 points. The Chiefs will be paying attention to those three, although they’ll be hard pressed to equal that total against a healthy Chilliwack defensive front, and Mitch Gillam, who enters tonight’s play on the back of three shutouts in four starts.

Chilliwack has won the first two meetings of the year between the two clubs at Prospera Centre, but it’s the first time since the return of the franchise that the boys will play at the Langley Events Centre. It’s a return of sorts for Chiefs Head Coach/GM Harvey Smyl, as well as former Rivermen Austin Plevy. Plevy spent two seasons in Langley, and is from there, so he’ll have some friends and family in the crowd. Smyl of course coached the Chiefs in Langley for four seasons after re-locating from Chilliwack at the end of the 2006 season.

THINGS I’M KEEPING IN MIND:

– The Chiefs have scored first in 13 of the last 14 games. The only time they didn’t? Against Langley on November 7th.

– Chilliwack is 12-2 against opponents within their division this year. One of those losses was in double OT all the way back in September.

– Three players in particular stood out for me energy-wise last night for the Chiefs: Mathieu Tibbet, Alexandre Perron-Fontaine, and Garrett Forster. They’ll need to supply that again on the road against a tough home-ice opponent.

– What will the second period bring? The Chiefs didn’t get scored on in the middle frame last night, but Nanaimo certainly looked like the better team. The 2nd might tell the story tonight. Langley has plenty of size up front that they can use to their advantage.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 22.30 %/Penalty Kill – 87.30%

Langley -Powerplay –19.70%/ Penalty Kill – 82.64%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Back In The Win Column: Chiefs Blank The Clips

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

The Chilliwack Chiefs righted themselves on home ice Friday night, beating the Nanaimo Clippers 3-0 for their 20th victory of the season.

Mitch Gillam made 40 saves for his third shutout in the last four starts. Garrett Forster’s breakaway goal early in the third period provided enough of a cushion, and Austin Plevy added the empty netter late to go with Jaret Babych’s power play marker in the first period.

Forster, out of Delta, played one of his best games of the season. He was flying from the start, providing the Chiefs the energy they required to climb out of a mini-funk. Forster scored the one goal, and probably could have had a couple more if not for Nanaimo goal keeper Jason Argue.

Chilliwack also was given a boost by Babych, Mathieu Tibbet, and Alexandre Perron-Fontaine, who all returned to the lineup after missing time due to injuries. Tibbet came close to scoring in the second period when he beat the Nanaimo defenseman to the loose puck, broke in, deked to the left post, and hit it, as the puck agonizingly rolled across the goal line. Austin Plevy lost the handle at the last second on a similar play to the front of the net in the middle period as well.

The second period still wasn’t the home team’s best, as the Clippers carried most of the pressure. Nanaimo outshot Chilliwack 31-17 through two periods, but the second-chance shots just weren’t there for the Clips. Mitch Gillam was calm and cool throughout. The second period was where he had to be at his best.

Chilliwack still sits at the top of the Mainland division, with a five point lead on the second place Surrey Eagles, and a six point edge on the Prince George Spruce Kings. Another Mainland opponent, the Langley Rivermen, await at the LEC on Saturday.

Boxscore

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Been A Few Days: Clips Visit Chiefs Tonight

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Luke Esposito enters Friday's play in the scoring lead overall with 40 points

Luke Esposito enters Friday’s play in the scoring lead overall with 40 points

Chilliwack Chiefs (19-8-1-1 – 40 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Nanaimo Clippers (15-11-0-2 – 32 points, 3rd in Island)

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

It seems like the Chilliwack Chiefs haven’t played for a month, but it’s only been nine days, and they’ll look to get their final weekend before the thirteen day Christmas break off to a good start at home against the Nanaimo Clippers.

A complete outing at home is something the Chiefs will be looking for as well. Two losses in a row coming into this one, both on home ice in uncharacteristic fashion. In both cases, the Chiefs started well before stumbling in the second period. In both cases, losses to Trail and Coquitlam, the Chiefs scored the game’s first goal. Chilliwack has scored first in 12 of their last 13 games. In both cases, the Smoke Eaters and Express scored multiple times unanswered to pull away in the middle frame.

Nanaimo enters Friday’s play in playoff position in the Island Division, and is kicking off a challenging three game road trip that will include stops in Penticton and Trail. The Clippers won their last game at home over the Surrey Eagles 5-2 after giving up the game’s first goal early on – a familiar sounding game flow for the Chiefs if there ever was one.

The Chiefs are 2-0 against the Clippers this season. The last meeting saw the Chiefs win a wild one, 5-4 at Frank Crane Arena. Josh Hansen had a big night that night, but with their leading goal scorer out for a few weeks,  it will have to be another leader offensively for the Chiefs to step up and help pull out this one.

What I’m Keeping In Mind:

– After the loss to Coquitlam, the narrative was centred around how the Chiefs could use the layoff to their advantage. Chilliwack’s finished three of the last four games with only nine healthy forwards, and should recieve some reinforcements tonight, depending on how much Jaret Babych and Mathieu Tibbet can give them. At first it was about rest. Now it might be about rust to begin this game tonight.

– Alexandre Perron-Fontaine should get some time tonight. His mobility and change of pace from the blue line, as well as what he can bring to the power play was something the Chiefs have been missing as of late. A boost could be provided there.

– Last month, when Austin Plevy was off at the CJHL Top Prospects weekend, Trevor Hills filled in on the top line, and put up six points in two games. He’ll probably get a look with Esposito and Plevy tonight, as Hansen sits with a knee sprain.

– Chilliwack’s been outscored 6-0 in their last two second periods, and lacked energy. What happens tonight?

– Michael McNicholas, Greg Fraser, and Kyle Kramer of the Clippers: 30 points each. Nanaimo doesn’t score a ton, but they’ve got guys that can hurt you. Those are three to keep an eye on tonight.

– The Chiefs aren’t really going to drop three games in a row at home, right?

– Umm…Right?

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 22.54 %/Penalty Kill – 87.12%

Coquitlam -Powerplay –17.09%/ Penalty Kill – 76.71%

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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