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Chiefs Flat In Loss To Silverbacks

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Well,

I know who Jordan Levesque is now. So there’s that.

Two goals and an assist for the call-up from the Nanaimo Buccaneers Junior B –  playing in just his tenth BCHL game – did in the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday night.

Not to take anything away from the kid, but that’s pretty much all you need to know.

I’ll keep going, though.

1. A concern going into this one was where the Chiefs emotional/energy level was after Friday’s loss to Surrey. Harvey Smyl said before the game tonight that he liked his team’s effort through forty minutes in that Surrey game, but just couldn’t find that spark, or any energy in the third. With the exception of a few minutes towards the end of the first, and portions of the second, the Chiefs were still looking for it on Saturday.

2. Chilliwack did cut down on the penalties tonight, but Tanner Cochrane had one really loooooong skate back to the bench after Salmon Arm opened the scoring on a powerplay four minutes into the game – a powerplay that was given after Cochrane cross checked a Salmon Arm player ten seconds after a whistle while heading off for a change. On the other side of special teams, it took the Chiefs at least 1:40 into their first powerplay before they generated a good chance. There was also a 2nd period 5 on 3 with the game still in doubt that was squandered as well.

3. Silverbacks goaltender Adam Clark has played nearly every game for his team this season. This young team will go as far as he can take them, and he made life easy on his teammates Saturday. Rebound control was stellar. There were a few saves with the game still in doubt that stood out. The biggest was a stop on Austin Plevy’s second period breakaway. A goal there ties the game at two, and erases a two goal Silverback lead in the process. Maybe that changes the game. Thanks to Clark, it didn’t. Salmon Arm rolled from there.

4. The Chiefs strongest sequence of effort came late in the first period. Trevor Hills, Spencer Graboski, and Josh Hansen did some excellent work down low in the Silverback zone, and it would pay off on the following shift as Ben Masella bled a point shot past Clark for the only Chief goal of the game. Perhaps it was a bad thing for Chilliwack that the first period would end just over a minute later. Those two shifts were something to build on. Didn’t work out that way.

Ben Masella put the Chiefs on the board in the first, but 'Backs goalie Adam Clark was perfect the rest of the way.

Ben Masella put the Chiefs on the board in the first, but ‘Backs goalie Adam Clark was perfect the rest of the way.

5. Three of the five Silverback goals were the result of the Chiefs being out-numbered down low, leading to point blank scoring chances. This was not a strong defensive effort from the home side. They certainly missed David Thompson, serving the first of a two game suspension for the Brady Shaw hit, but there was more to it than that.

6. Give Salmon Arm credit for playing a strong road game in a building where they hadn’t won since 2006. They made plays, got some saves, and were effective on special teams. That’s a road game. The Chiefs will have to do that next weekend. Two games upcoming against Interior division clubs – West Kelowna on the Friday, and these same Silverbacks next Saturday night.

 

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Getting To Know You: Silverbacks Make Lone Visit

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment

                                              ChilliwackChiefssalmonarmlogo

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-13-1-1 – 56 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Salmon Arm Silverbacks (18-18-2-3 – 41 points, 4th in Interior)

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

This is tough, right here. Friday night featured two longtime rivals, in the midst of a tightly contested season series. Last night’s game was won by the bad guys in an emotional game from start to finish…..and now…..

….The Salmon Arm Silverbacks? It’s been awhile, hey? (Chilliwack did go 7-0 against Salmon Arm last season.)

I will openly admit that I’ve seen maybe five minutes of tape on this Salmon Arm club, but I can tell you this – They’re young (only one ’92 born player on the roster) feisty, and battling for a playoff spot in the Interior division – just one point up on the Trail Smoke Eaters going into this game at Prospera Centre. They’re also a little ornery, having lost 5-2 in Langley the night before.

Going on numbers alone, defenseman Shane Hanna makes this team go. His 35 points from the blueline leads Salmon Arm in scoring. Alex Gillies and Brandon Mistal are the Apes’ two leading goal scorers with 14, and 12 respectively. It remains to be seen if the Silverbacks have enough firepower to match the Chiefs.

That’s why they play the games, though.

1. Jared Virtanen and Kyle Westeringh will get some time in the Chilliwack lineup tonight as AP callups. Both have seen action with the Chiefs this season already. Both have appeared in two games with the club, and Virtanen had a few good sequences the other night in the victory over Prince George. Westeringh is the local boy.

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

Luke Esposito enters Saturday’s play one point back in the BCHL scoring race (59)

2. I would have said this about tonight’s game regardless of what happened Friday: The Chiefs have to make sure their energy level is where it needs to be. An emotional game against Surrey like the one we saw Friday can take a lot out of the group. Any team can win on any given night in the BCHL (Cliche alert!) but it’s true – The Chiefs have to bring it early, and channel the frustration from last night’s loss into consistent play this evening.

3. I know that sounds really boring. But it’s so simple. And it must be done.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.78 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 85.36% – (1st)

Salmon Arm – Powerplay – 18.90 % (8th) / Penalty Kill – 81.92% – (5th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Eagles Win Third Period, Game.

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment

It was an entertaining game at Prospera Centre on Friday night. There were plenty of goals, chances and great saves at both ends, and some bad blood, but it was the Surrey Eagles that made the plays at the end in a 6-4 victory over the Chilliwack Chiefs.

A tough finish for the home side, as the boys held leads of 3-1 and 4-2 in this game. Surrey has made a large part of their year out of erasing deficits and coming back though, so they must recieve a lion’s share of the credit for staying the course, and taking their second straight W out of Prospera.

There’s lots to get to in regards to this game. If I leave something out, shake your head at the screen.

1. Things looked promising enough in the first period. Surrey would score first, but the Chiefs were undaunted, answering back with a pair. Amidst all the talk about Phil Zielonka, Plevy, and Esposito lately, it was Tanner Cochrane that opened the scoring taking advantage of a bounce in the slot, and sneaking a puck past Michael Santaguida. A good feeling for Cochrane to get on the board – His season for the last two months has been nothing but game misconducts, getting trolled by that crazy guy in Victoria while in the penalty box, being an agitator, and the occasional suspension. Nice to see him pot one, although I couldn’t help myself: Cochrane goals: 4 / Cochrane game misconducts: 3 – A stat that’s amusing to me, and me only.

Tanner Cochrane got the Chiefs on the board early with his fourth of the year.

Tanner Cochrane got the Chiefs on the board early with his fourth of the year.

2. And then Zielonka scored again anyways. Just because. 29 on the year now. Good look from Esposito to set him up after the Eagles were too casual defensively. Cooper Rush did nice work at the left point to keep the puck on side as well.

3. When Jaret Babych got in on the act in the second period with his 11th, it looked as though the Chiefs would take control of the game, but give the Eagles credit for continuing to work. When Captain Brett Mulcahy banked one in off of Gillam to cut the lead in half, it gave Surrey some life…..

4…..to the point that even Austin Plevy’s tremendous shorthanded effort on the fourth Chiefs goal didn’t completely faze them. Plevy made a great play in stealing the puck from Jordan Klimek behind the Surrey goal, and scoring on a rebound from the ensuing wraparound attempt. I thought that might be the turning point of the game.

5. Instead, it was Michael Santaguida’s breakaway save on Tanner Burns in the second period. Burns was sprung out of the penalty box, and could have put the Chiefs up 5-2. Instead, Santaguida closed up the five hole, and that’s what gave the Eagles life.

6. They would tie it in the second period in fact, with goals less than three minutes apart. That third Eagle goal was particularly tough to give up. Mitch Gillam, who had an up and down night, was pretty aggresive on a shot from the high slot. When the puck went wide off the end boards, Michael Stenerson was alone for a tap in at the side of the goal. That capped a tough sequence for the Chiefs that was coupled with the Santaguida breakaway stop.

7. Gillam made a couple of monster saves in the third period to keep his team in the game, but I thought he was trying to do a little too much in this one. Very agressive, and it hurt him at times. Some bad luck, too – Mulcahy’s first goal was a puck that bounced up in the air out of view, and banked in off the shoulder. The GWG by Drew Best came after Gillam got spun around stopping a shot off the rush from a sharp angle, forcing him to hug the post – the rebound came out into the slot, and the Chiefs weren’t able to clear – Best chipped it over the Chilliwack goaltender – who was lying on his back facing the end boards (yes, that happened) Wild sequence.

8. People will look at the powerplay disparity in the game tonight (Surrey had 8 to Chilliwack’s 1) and moan about the officiating. Two things: There were a couple calls in this game that should have gone Chilliwack’s way, and didn’t. As we’ve covered in this space before, that stuff evens out over the course of the season.

Also: It’s a slippery slope. When the Chiefs are limiting their opponents to 1 for 8 on the power play, and winning, people like me think – ‘Best penalty kill in the BCHL just doing what they do.” – BUT, when Surrey finishes the night 1 for 8, and wins the hockey game? Then the grumbling of ‘Too many penalties’ starts. Chilliwack has had a few nights this year where they go 9 for 10 on the PK and win. The problem, despite the success, is that you’ve got a number of forwards (and D, for that matter) expanding energy killing penalties when they otherwise could be creating things at the other end. Luke Esposito, Austin Plevy, Phil Zielonka, Josh Hansen, etc are all asked to kill penalties, and they’re pretty good at it, but you’d rather take your chances at 5 on 5 with those guys.

9. Surrey was better in the circle in the third period. Simple and plain. Big factor in the final 15 minutes.

10. Frustration set in late, as evidenced by David Thompson’s hit on Brady Shaw. Like Kevin Guiltinan’s hit on Mathieu Tibbet the night before, it was an unfortunate play. Shaw was knocked into the boards heavily, but left under his own power. Hopefully he’s okay. Adam Tambellini also left this game halfway through the second period and didn’t return.

11. It was an emotional hockey game Friday night, and the Eagles were able to channel things just a little bit better. A positive here for Chilliwack is they have an opportunity to get right back at it on home ice Saturday. No time to dwell. Just go out there and……face a young, frisky Salmon Arm team they haven’t seen yet this season.

And with that, we’ll turn the page.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Eagles: It Continues.

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

gillysavesurrey

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-12-1-1 – 56 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Surrey Eagles (24-11-2-3 – 53 points, 2nd in Mainland)

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

Chilliwack. Surrey. 1-2 in the division. Both teams have made impactful deadline moves.

This is going to be something.

1. There’s potential for some goals tonight at Prospera Centre. This game will feature four top 10 scorers in the league, including the leader (Luke Esposito – 57 points) as well as Austin Plevy, Adam Tambellini, and Brady Shaw. Tambellini was acquired by the Eagles from Vernon at the trade deadline, and has not dissapointed, putting up 10 points in four games. Chilliwack’s impact move from January 10th, Phil Zielonka, has been lights out himself – eight goals and twelve points in six games playing alongside Esposito and Plevy. Zielonka, Tambellini, and Shaw are all in play for the Bret Hull Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer.

2. The Chiefs are just about automatic when leading a game after two periods. They’re 22-1-0-1 this year when holding a lead through forty minutes. That regulation loss, and overtime defeat? Both to the Eagles in South Surrey.

3. That said, I like the way the Chiefs have turned a corner after their post-Christmas rollercoaster. Four wins in a row and five in the last six games have put Chilliwack back in the top spot in the division, and don’t require any extra motivation for this game tonight. The Chiefs are 3-2-0-1 against the Birds this season, and with just two head to head matchups left, this one is going to go a long way in determining the division champ at the end of the regular season.

4. Surrey presents a tougher matchup than Prince George up front. The Spruce Kings forwards are just not big enough to handle Chilliwack’s D core, but the Eagles are. Plenty of size and skill up front with Brady Shaw, Tambellini, Michael Stenerson, and Demico Hannoun. Hannoun has been the most effective against the Chiefs this season, with three goals and seven points.

5. A 3-0 Eagle victory in Chilliwack at the end of December came down to a few extra plays made by Surrey before the night was done. A rivalry and season series like this one comes down to effort and execution. It should be close tonight, and a great show.

Lineups: Trevor Hills and Shay Laurent draw back in for the Chiefs tonight after serving four game suspensions.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.89 % (3rd) /Penalty Kill – 85.28% – (1st)

Surrey – Powerplay – 19.13 % (8th) / Penalty Kill – 81.07% – (6th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Zielonka, Plevy, Chiefs Overpower Spruce Kings

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

zielonka

The Spruce Kings are probably happy to get away from the Chilliwack Chiefs for a little while. Phil Zielonka continued his absurd goal scoring pace with a hat-trick, Austin Plevy racked up five points, and Luke Esposito pulled into the league scoring lead in a 6-2 victory over the Spruce Kings on Wednesday night at Prospera Centre.

Chilliwack now holds a three point lead going into Friday night’s showdown with the Surrey Eagles, and also pushes their lead over Prince George to eleven points after taking care of business three times inside of a week.

1. If you’re gonna leave Phil Zielonka alone in the slot in the first period? You’re gonna have a bad time. If you’re gonna lose an edge at the Chilliwack line, allowing Zielonka to walk in on a breakaway with a chance to score his hat-trick goal? You’re gonna have a bad time.

Six games as a Chief. Eight goals. I….the kid’s good.

2. Not to take anything away from his linemates, of course. Austin Plevy’s shorthanded breakaway goal at the end of the first period was a killer, and his tip on an Alexandre Perron-Fontaine power play point shot was much needed at the time. Prince George had scored twice in the period to cut the Chilliwack lead down to 4-2. Luke Esposito’s two assists vaulted him into the league lead scoring-wise.

3. I think Cooper Rush is playing some of his best hockey of the season. Steady back there, and got a couple of his bombs through on goal, including a power play marker in the first period. Great work on the screen in front by Mathieu Tibbet there as well. More on Tibbs in a second.

4. We saw the following look on a Chilliwack powerplay in the game: Esposito, Plevy, Zielonka, Hansen, Perron-Fontaine. That’s an embarrasment of riches, right there.

5. An unfortunate play in the second period, as Mathieu Tibbet was extended, reaching for a puck in the slot, and laid out by Prince George defenseman Kevin Guiltinan. It was a blow to the head, and unneccesary, as Tibbet was vulnerable inbetween the hashmarks in the Prince George zone. Guiltinan was assesed five and a game for that hit. Tibbet was knocked out on the play, and would be helped off the ice – on his feet at least. Word is it’s a concussion. I feel bad for Mathieu, a well-liked guy who’s dealt with concussion issues and other injuries before. They’ll miss his enthusiasm for the next little while.

6. The Spruce Kings looked like a team that travelled down here for eight hours the day of the game at times on Wednesday night. While that can be a convenient excuse, last season the Chiefs travelled to Prince George the day of, got to the rink fifty minutes before puck drop due to an accident outside of town, and won anyway. So…yeah.

7. The Surrey Eagles landed their own big prize at the trade deadline in Adam Tambellini. The rivalry will continue Friday night at Prospera Centre, and the Chiefs will have a chance to push their three point lead over Surrey to five, taking a one game lead in the season series in the process.

Tambellini. Brady Shaw. Michael Santaguida. Phil Zielonka. Austin Plevy. Luke Esposito. Mitch Gillam.

Surrey. Chilliwack. Friday night.

You should probably go check that out.

Is it Friday yet?

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

These Guys Again – Prince George at Prospera

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

pgrecap

Chilliwack Chiefs (26-12-1-1 – 54 points, 1st in Mainland)

VS Prince George Spruce Kings (19-14-1-6 – 45 points, 3rd in Mainland)

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

This week has felt like the postseason in Chilliwack. They’ll take on the Prince George Spruce Kings for the fourth time in the last eleven days. One positive for the Chiefs is their head to head record against their Mainland division rivals – 5-0 this season, although you could argue that the Chiefs probably shouldn’t have won the last time these two teams got together at Prospera – a 3-2 overtime victory where Spencer Graboski tied it with 51 seconds on the clock.

1. In order to push it to 6-0 tonight, Chilliwack must limit the space in the middle of the ice for the Prince George forwards. In Saturday’s 4-2 victory, the Chiefs gave up too many odd-man rushes early on. Prospera Centre’s ice surface is bigger than the one up north, so the Spruce Kings’ speed will be more of a factor. The Chiefs have frustrated the Spruce Kings in the other areas of the rink, so if they can own the middle, they’ll have a great chance to win this game, and increase their lead atop the Mainland standings going into the weekend.

2. The Spruce Kings will have to account for a Chiefs lineup that`s beginning to click post-deadline. Phil Zielonka has found the net five times in his first five games, including four against the Spruce Kings alone. Zielonka attributed that to playing with some great players – Austin Plevy and Luke Esposito are working on 7 game point streaks of their own. Esposito can take back the league scoring lead with a two point night this evening.

3. Josh Hansen found the back of the net this past Saturday in Prince George, hopefully putting to an end a frustrating stretch that saw him miss significant time with a knee injury. Hansen’s versatility is one of the Chiefs’ biggest weapons. He can play in any situation, and makes a difference with his net-front presence on the powerplay. This all means the coaching staff will have more options with the top six. Graboski-Hansen-Hills (when he returns from suspension) can be a formidable group.

4. No McHaffie’s, or Brandon Volpe tonight. Jared Virtanen is getting the call to play in his second game with the Chiefs this season. The energy provided by the twins and Volpe will need to be replicated by those who are in tonight – namely, Mathieu Tibbet, Brodyn Nielsen, Babych, and Tanner Burns. The ‘bottom six’ made big differences at times for the Chiefs in Prince George, and it will have to happen again if a win is in the cards.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.65 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 85.78% – (1st)

Prince George – Powerplay – 16.47 % (15th) / Penalty Kill – 81.07% – (9th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

They’re Home: Chiefs Return With Four Points

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSPrincegeorge

 

Eight and a half hours of bus time later, the Chiefs are back home after two wins and four points in Prince George this weekend. I’ll keep this fairly brief. For JB’s game recap, click here, and for Prince George’s Ron Gallo’s recap, click here.

Three things, though:

1. There was a sequence in the second period where the Chiefs had a goal called back – It would have been Phil Zielonka’s hat-trick goal but was waved off after it was determined Luke Esposito used his glove to knock it in front of the net. Coltyn Hansen was awarded a penalty shot shortly after that, and with a chance to tie the game, Mitch Gillam made a big save with the left pad. The way things were going for the Chiefs a couple weeks ago? Maybe Hansen scores on that penalty shot, ties the game, and the tenor changes. Not on Saturday.

2. Speaking of Hansens, Josh scored his first goal since the 17th of November. Hansen’s offensive production was a big part of Chilliwack’s early season success, and the Chiefs will need him to regain a consistent scoring touch if they’re going to ultimatley fend off Surrey for the division title.

3. If there’s one thing that didn’t go right for the Chiefs in this game, it was the number of odd-man rushes given up early in the game. Harvey Smyl said as much after this one. Prince George doesn’t boast the biggest group of forwards in the league, but they are very quick, and the Chiefs will have to limit their space in the middle of the ice – particularly coming up on Wednesday at Prospera Centre – an ice surface that’s bigger than the one in Prince George. Something to watch for when these two get back at it in a few days – Chilliwack’s 5-0 against the Spruce Kings this season.

 

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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