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Leftovers: A Weekend Without Results

February 24, 2013 Leave a comment

I didn’t feel like writing this last night, because I didn’t have much to say.

I still don’t, but I have to write something.

So here we go.

1. Remember last weekend after a pair of wins against West K and Surrey? Everything was rainbows and unicorns. Now they’re back in that weird limbo stage just seven days later. Prince George played well enough to win the game Saturday, as their goaltender was stellar – Kirk Thompson has proven in his last two trips here that he can be tough to beat. Execution is the thing, however.

Luke Esposito’s individual rush for the 2-2 goal in the second period was amazing. Made a tremendous pair of moves to get to the net, and beat Thompson to the five hole with a backhander. Great sequence. Highlight reel stuff.

Not to take anything away from that, or Espo, but can you consistently win games with spectacular individual rushes?

Thinking….

Adjusts collar….

Starts sweating…

No. Can’t bank on that stuff. There’s a reason they show Evgeni Malkin’s highlight reel goal against Tampa Bay a million times – because it just doesn’t happen every night.

NOW – Can you win games on a well executed 2 on 1, like the Spruce Kings did when Shay Laurent got caught at centre throwing a check, turning it into a 50/50 play against Eric Roberts? Bryant Christian made a good shot to beat Gillam.

Execution.

You can win that way. Consistently.

Just sayin’.

2. I liked Chilliwack’s compete level last night. They certainly put enough pucks on net, and were step for step physically with the Spruce Kings. The 2 on 1 goal hurt, and they pressed for the tie in the third – couldn’t get it. That’s the way the game goes, sure. But now is not the time for moral victories. They need results, and it’s frustrating to come up empty.

3. Trevor Hills’ drop pass to a wide open Austin Plevy for the Chiefs first goal? Sweet. Took the defender with him before dropping it between the legs. Kiefer McNaughton keeping the puck in for Ryan Donohoe, leading to the Chiefs 3rd goal late in the second period? I liked that. Mathieu Tibbet was very active on the forecheck, and strong down low along the boards. I liked that. David Thompson played like a #1 defenseman/Captain. No question about that. I liked that.

There were little things to like, sure. Effort was there.

Those little things and moral victories are always good.

But they have to lead to wins this time of year. Simple and plain.

Games left to ‘figure it out’: 4

See ya Friday.

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Three Things: Chiefs Host Spruce Kings

February 23, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSPrincegeorge

Chilliwack Chiefs (30-19-1-1 – 62 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Prince George Spruce Kings (23-19-1-7 – 54 points, 3rd in Mainland)

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

LINEUPS

PROGRAM

1. Two teams that are frustrated entering tonight’s play. Chilliwack was done in by a poor third period in Langley on Friday night, leading to a loss where they surrendered three goals in the final frame. Prince George comes in looking for redemption – after surrendering three third period goals in a loss to Coquitlam. Sports are funny sometimes. Even more upsetting for P.G. – The Express only had seven shots on goal in the third period last night. I’m anxious to see which team brings the higher level of resolve tonight. Previous games with these two indicate Chilliwack has the advantage – They’re 6-1 against Prince George this season. However….

2. In the ‘Kings last visit, Kirk Thompson got the start after getting the tug the night before in a loss. Thompson was tagged with the defeat in Coquitlam, and will look to bounce back in a building where he shut the door emphatically the last time he was here. The Chiefs may only get a handfull of quality scoring chances in this game, so they must convert. That lack of finish that dogged them during the five game losing streak last month has crept back in a little bit. They have to take advantage on home ice with the last change. Mitch Gillam would like to bounce back at the other end – he was not at his best Friday in Langley.

3. Chilliwack can clinch home ice advantage in the first round with a regulation win tonight. A loss in this game would certainly feel like a squandered weekend this late in the season, especially after the team had entered Friday with three wins in their previous four, and were looking like they had turned a corner. This game for the Spruce Kings is the second of a three-game-three-night weekend, and don’t want to head back to Coquitlam four points in the hole on this trip.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Down The River

February 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Unable to erase a 2nd period deficit for the eleventh time in twelve games this season, the Chilliwack Chiefs gave up three in the third period en route to a 5-1 loss at the Langley Events Centre Friday night.

While the victory for Langley was important, the standings didn’t change much. The Rivermen are still five points up on Coquitlam for the final playoff spot in the division – The Express defeated Prince George Friday, doing the Chiefs a favour. Chilliwack still holds an eight point advantage on PG for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

1. I liked Chilliwack’s first period in this game. They outshot Langley by a 2-1 margin. Unfortunatley, Langley’s James Barr was up to the task in the first, stopping all fourteen shots he faced. Phil Zielonka tried to outwait Barr from the right circle in the period, but Barr turned Zielonka away with the blocker. Austin Plevy flew into the zone down the left wing, and looked from our perch like he might have room to go upstairs, but instead put a pass through the crease that Mathieu Tibbet just missed.

Barr was actually fighting the puck a little in the first twenty minutes. I give him credit for settling in as the game wore on. Had the Chiefs scored once or twice in that period? This game might have been different.

Ryan Donohoe and the Chiefs struggled to beat Rivermen 'keeper James Barr on this night

Ryan Donohoe and the Chiefs struggled to beat Rivermen ‘keeper James Barr on this night

2. It was a sign of things to come in the second period when Langley opened the scoring. Phil Zielonka overskated the puck in his own zone, and Derek Sutliffe of Langley pounced on it. He fed Jakob Riechert – the player acquired for Austin Plevy that eventually paved the way for the Huisman trade in the summer – who beat Mitch Gillam five-hole along the ice. That one came against the flow, and it stung for the Chiefs.

3. David Thompson answered back three minutes and change later, when he charged off the right point to the front of the goal on a powerplay, and put home Spencer Graboski’s goalmouth touch pass. That power play goal was as pretty as it got for the Chiefs on this night.

4. Langley would score before the 2nd period let out, and the Chiefs went to the break after 40 down by a goal. I don’t know what it is with this team when trailing after two periods (now 1-11 this year) but they can’t seem to find that….um….Comebackability? Is that a word?…Probably not……that JUICE to come back in the final period. That’s a problem. Hell, I start to think to myself – They’re down after two. That’s not good. They’d better score quick here. – I’m sure that plays on the minds of the players a little bit as well.

5. It wasn’t Mitch Gillam’s best night, but I was more concerned with the lack of run support – Just one goal in five of the last ten games. It feels like the Chiefs will either explode for five, or lack finish on the way to one. Can’t play that type of roulette late in the year. Too much skill on this team for that.

6. Quick turnarounds are welcome in hockey, however. The Chiefs must bounce right back Saturday at home against an annoyed Prince George team, and try to salvage this weekend.

Five games to go before the postseason. And three still to come against the Rivermen. I’m sure the Chiefs will file this one away for the next two trips to the LEC.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

First Of Four: Chiefs Battle Rivermen

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSLangley

Chilliwack Chiefs (30-18-1-1 – 62 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Langley Rivermen (20-23-1-5 – 46 points, 4th in Mainland)

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

Between now and the end of the regular season in the second weekend of March, these two division opponents will meet four times. It’s going to feel like a playoff series when it’s all said and done. Chilliwack is starting to turn the corner at the right time, winning three of their last four, while Langley is still trying to fend off Coquitlam for the final playoff spot in the division.

1. Last time the Chiefs laced ’em up in this building, they beat Langley 6-3 in the last game before the Christmas break.

Since that game, they’ve won eight of nineteen. I have no idea what this means.

They have, however, won at the LEC before, and with four games left against the Rivermen from now ’till the end of the year, including three in that building, I’d say that’s kind of important.

2. Tonight’s game will feature the top three scorers in the BCHL entering Friday’s play. Langley’s Mario Puskarich is out in front with 37 goals and 75 points. He, along with Evan Campbell and James Robinson represent a dangerous trio which the Chiefs will have to attend to. Chilliwack’s done a solid job the last couple games keeping some talented players in West Kelowna and Surrey to the outside, limiting the number of scoring chances on Mitch Gillam in tight. Same mindset applies here with those three, and players like Derek Sutliffe, Austin Azurdia, and Mitch McLain are no slouches either.

On the Chilliwack side, Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy are 2-3 in the league, respectively. Plevy needs one goal to hit the 30 plateau for the year, joining Puskarich and his teammate Phil Zielonka. Luke Esposito meanwhile, leads the league in assists by a mile. (53) We could see some goals this evening. Gillam and (probable) Langley starter James Barr will have their work cut out.

3. Trevor Hills played with Esposito and Plevy the last time Chilliwack was in Langley, and promptly finished with four points that night. Those three were together last Saturday night against Surrey, and it only took Hills seven minutes to score in the first period on a setup by the other two. I think we may see some more of that on Friday.

4. It’s been a little while since Langley had to deal with a healthy Ryan Donohoe. Donohoe was one of the momentum changers in that memorable comeback in October, and his continued steady play down the middle should make a difference playing with Josh Hansen and Phil Zielonka. In two games against Langley this season, Donohoe has three goals and four points.

Langley can score a ton, so it’s important for the Chiefs to play a solid ‘road’ type game tonight – limiting chances, playing physical down low, along the boards, etc. I’m not sure it’s in Chilliwack’s best interest to try and get into some kind of wild west shootout against this team – The Chiefs have had games in the last 10 where they look great offensively, and others where the quality scoring chances, for whatever reason, dry up.

I think this is a good litmus test for the club, not just tonight but for the weekend as well with the Prince George game looming (Two winnable games according to me, who doesn’t wear a uniform, kill a penalty, take a hit to make a play, or get into the lane to block a shot, mind you.) – Have the Chiefs really turned the corner?

Or is it another on again/off again stretch before the postseason? Don’t forget, in this occasionally frustrating 8-11 stretch since Christmas, they’ve seen a four game winning streak, and two seperate losing streaks of four, and five games.

Full stride? Or another stop on the roller coaster?

Guess we’ll find out.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chilliwack To Host BCHL Showcase Again

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Glen Ringdal, Comissioner John Grisdale, and Harvey Smyl from earlier this morning

Glen Ringdal, Comissioner John Grisdale, and Harvey Smyl from earlier this morning

A good day for the BCHL, and for junior hockey in Chilliwack. The league’s 2nd annual Showcase will be held in the ‘Wack for a second straight season, and I, along with the Chiefs organization, and the league, couldn’t be happier.

Having all 16 teams here over the course of one weekend was something I really enjoyed purely from a hockey fan standpoint, and I hope that the fans, both hardcore, and casual take advantage of that entertainment.

The official press release is here.

A quick chat with Chiefs/Prospera Centre President Glen Ringdal is below:

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs’ Cap Successful Weekend

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Alright then.

I tweeted following Saturday’s game that this was important for the Chiefs moving forward. Not just the win over Surrey, but the weekend in general. Two games, two wins, four points and a reminder that this Chilliwack team can be pretty good when they want to be. With six games to go before the playoffs begin, this weekend was important for this group. No question about it.

A few things:

1. The biggest stretch of Saturday’s game was in the third period with the Chiefs nursing a one goal lead. The Chiefs went to the box three straight times, including a 5 on 3 for 34 seconds. On Monday in Coquitlam, an identical stretch would allow the Express back in, and ultimatley cost them the game. On Saturday, Chilliwack killed off everything, Mitch Gillam stopped everything, and Surrey’s numerous power play opportunities were rendered moot.

2. Mitch Gillam settled in after a rocky first period. He got caught out of his net playing the puck, and while he nearly got the right pad on Trevor Cameron’s wraparound while scurrying back into the crease, it wasn’t enough, and it gave Surrey a one goal lead following the opening period. Gillam wouldn’t allow anything else the rest of the way. His stop on Brett Mulcahy early in the third period after an Esposito turnover was his biggest of the night while the game was tied at 2.

3. Trevor Hills was put on the Esposito/Plevy line, and contributed immediatley, tying the game in the first period thirteen seconds after Surrey had drawn first blood. Chilliwack will need to have a player like Hills going at full capacity in the postseason. He’s a good player when he’s not sidetracked by some of the after-whistle transgressions. I didn’t see any of that from him Saturday, as he has a chance to play with two very good players right now.

4. I said before this game that Austin Plevy would be an X-factor. He made me look pretty smart with those two goals. I liked his intensity as well. When he’s really going, the rest of the group follows, and Austin was strong Saturday.

5. Aside from one undisciplined penalty, Ryan Donohoe continues to do some strong things with the puck and without. He’s fearless on the penalty kill, looking to attack with the puck, strong defensively, and arguably the best faceoff man on the team. He’s usually the guy when there’s a big draw. Those are all things that will prove to be invaluable.

6. Surrey was a little shorthanded tonight, but they were right in this game for 46 minutes. For all the talk about Adam Tambellini and his unquestioned talent, I think Brady Shaw is their best player. He was consistently dangerous, and plays with an edge. He also uses his size very well. Also with Shaw, who was the victim of that ugly hit from David Thompson in the last meeting – we didn’t see any spillover from that. Both teams knew how important this game was, and we didn’t see either team get sidetracked from that. I sure hope they’ll meet in the playoffs down the line.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Can’t Wait: Eagles/Chiefs One More Time

February 16, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSSurrey

Chilliwack Chiefs (29-18-1-1 – 60 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Surrey Eagles (31-12-2-4 – 68 points, 1st in Mainland)

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

LINEUPS

NUMBERS

Well, then.

Always a show when these two teams get together. I’m expecting playoff intensity, and with the Eagles eight points up on the Chiefs, trying to keep them at bay for the division title, this game should have plenty of meaning.

There always is meaning between these two, but they are the two best teams in the division, and there could be some bad blood.

1. Last time out, David Thompson put Brady Shaw into the boards, earning a two game suspension. I’m sure the Eagles haven’t forgotten that. The Chiefs’ Captain is a firey guy, and certainly isn’t afraid to handle his own business should he have to answer a bell or two, but it’s important for Thompson to keep that emotion in check tonight – as tough as it may be. Thompson means too much to the Chiefs with his play on the ice, particularly against the likes of Shaw, Adam Tambellini, Demico Hannoun, and Michael Stenerson.

2. Eric Roberts had a very good night Friday against a shifty, talented group of Warrior forwards. Chilliwack must have another performance like Friday’s from Roberts, who made good decisions, and was tough to play against along the boards and in the corners. Ben Masella will have to continue his solid play as well.

3. Surrey hasn’t seen the Chiefs since Chilliwack’s lines were juggled. I don’t think the adjustment period would take too long, but the coaching staff have put together some different looks that have been effective at times. Harvey Smyl touched on the play of Mathieu Tibbet of late, some of his best since coming back from a concussion. He provides Plevy/Esposito with a lot of speed in the middle of the ice, and has good net-front presence on the power play.

4. I think Austin Plevy can be an X-Factor tonight. I liked his all-around game against the Bulldogs last week. A goal, hits along the boards and in the corners on the forecheck, intensity, a couple ‘pest’ sequences – That’s the total package Plevy can bring. He wears an ‘A’ for a reason. It’s games like this late in the season and moving forward where the Chiefs will need that type of game from one of their top players. He did swing momentum (momentarily, albeit) with that great effort on the shorthanded goal from behind the net three weeks ago. That could all go a long ways towards a victory tonight. It’s a team effort of course, but I think Plevy could swing this game with a big play or two.

5. In a rivalry like this one, it’s important for all eighteen skaters on the Chiefs’ side to get in the game as early as possible. Hit or get hit. Surrey has handed the Chiefs two losses on home ice this season. The home side would like to change that, you can bet.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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