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Archive for February, 2013

New Streak: Chiefs Tame ‘Dogs

February 11, 2013 Leave a comment

That’s over.

JB’s recap is here. Click on it for something a little more indepth.

I’ll leave you with a few thoughts:

1. Chilliwack didn’t change too much from Friday night – except maybe the line combinations. Mathieu Tibbet had a strong game Friday, and got some time with Esposito and Plevy, including some time on the power play. I liked those three together. Tibbet does have some crazy speed through the middle of the ice, and he utilized that well with those two on this night.

2. Got the full Austin Plevy experience tonight. Plevy scored a goal – his 26th of the season, played with intensity, and was physical. His hit on Teal Burns towards the end of the second period ticked off Burns quite a bit – he was smashing his stick all over the place, enough to draw a ten minute unsportsmanlike conduct. The hit was clean.

Teal, Why u mad, bro?

Anyways – good night from Plevy. He’ll have to do that moving forward if the Chiefs plan to roll into the playoffs. Espo was better tonight than he was Friday as well.

3. Phil Zielonka loves to score. He hadn’t in three games, but got the party started on the powerplay in the second period. He closed the scoring in the third as well. He’s got 31 now – leading the league in that category, just in front of Surrey’s Brady Shaw, and Langley’s Mario Puskarich.

4. Mitch Gillam made a couple biggies in this game – Teal Burns on a shorthanded breakaway, and utter robbery on Ryan Lough in the third period with the game at 4-2. Lough had a stellar chance in front, but Gillam got his left toe on it. That’s hockey.

5. Puck movement on the Chilliwack powerplay was sharper. More of a purpose tonight. The Chiefs were strong this evening, but at no point did it seem like they were pressing. This was important.

6. Jay Deo made a couple big time saves on Tanner Cochrane tonight. Cochrane was the game’s first star anyway. He made good decisions. And what a pain in the ass to play against.

7. Finally, it’s important for the Chiefs to see a positive result, especially on home ice, where they had won just three of their last seven. They must take this right into Coquitlam on Monday – not too much time to celebrate – a 2pm faceoff against two former teammates in Ben Israel and Garrett Forster.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

‘Dogs Are Out: A.V. Visits The Chiefs

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSAlbernivalley

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-17-1-1 – 56 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Alberni Valley Bulldogs (23-17-1-5 – 52 points, 3rd in Island)

(Prospera Centre  –  4:30 pregame/5pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

THE LINEUPS

THE NUMBERS

A few things:

1. Both of these teams have clinched a playoff spot, but both teams have plenty to play for. Alberni Valley sits just three points back of the Nanaimo Clippers for second spot, and home ice advantage in the Island Division. They had won five straight games, but had that streak snapped in a place where many a winning streak goes to die – Penticton. They’re also on the final leg of a three game in three night odyssey that saw the ‘Dogs visit Trail, the south Okanagan, and now Chilliwack.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, are just looking for a positive result. Chilliwack has dropped five straight games, the most recent a disheartening 3-1 home ice loss to division rival Prince George. The effort was there on Saturday, but it’s about results at this time of year, and the Chiefs haven’t been getting them. Also, the Spruce Kings are now lurking in the division, four points out of the second spot in the Mainland with ten games to play. Two points would serve the Chiefs well here for a number of reasons.

2. Home hasn’t been particularly sweet for Chilliwack – 3-4 in the last seven on Prospera Centre ice, and a pedestrian 12-9-1 overall. A skate with the fans after the game is always more fun after a win.

3. The last time these two met way back in October, it was a spirited affair that went right down to the wire – Josh Hansen scored the overtime winner that night, on a great play behind the net from Trevor Hills. Fast forward to February, and Hansen has scored twice since November, while Hills serves the second of a two game suspension this evening. Hockey is funny sometimes.

4. Hot goaltenders aside, Chilliwack’s had trouble finding the net – Just one goal three times in the last five.

5. Alberni Valley’s most dynamic player is perhaps 17 year old Evan Tironese. He leads the way with 43 points this season, and is part of a forward group that may not blow you away with numbers individually, but they can all find the net as a group, averaging well over three a game. Tironese’s helped by the likes of Manny Gielidakis, Ryan Lough, and Teal Burns, who has fit in quite well since coming over via trade earlier in the season. The ‘Dogs fell behind big in Penticton last night, but battled back with a strong output offensively. If the Chiefs are going to put this slump to bed, a full 60 is going to be the (boring, tired, cliched) key. They may even have to go longer than sixty for the second time against this team this season.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Slump Hits 5: Spruce Kings Win 3-1

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Quick turnaround going into Sunday evening against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. I’ll keep this fairly brief. For an indepth game story, check out JB’s recap on the team website here.

1. During the current five game slide, the Chiefs have only scored one goal in three of those games. I don’t care how good Mitch Gillam is, it’s tough to win games that way. Tonight’s output offensively wasn’t for a lack of effort though. Chilliwack got 45 pucks towards Prince George starter Kirk Thompson on Saturday night. He stopped 44 of them. You’re going to run into a hot goaltender sometimes. Sometimes, you’ll run into one even after dropping four straight games. That’s hockey. The Chiefs raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first period the last time these teams met, and tonight Thompson was perfect in the first, turning aside all 21 pucks he faced in the opening frame.

2. Give the Spruce Kings credit – coming off a loss to Surrey the night before, they made enough plays on the road to win the game. I thought Coltyn Hansen was their best skater on this night. He got behind the Chiefs’ defenders a couple times in the second period – Gillam robbed him on a shorthanded breakaway – and would score the eventual game winner when he took advantage of Chilliwack’s soft coverage down low – he was left alone in front of the goal for a tap in. Chilliwack also had a 6 on 4 powerplay in the final minute down by a goal – Thompson made a pair of saves, and Mark Begert’s clearing attempt from almost 200 feet hit the middle of the empty net. The Spruce Kings made plays tonight. Hats off.

3. Before the game, I mentioned Chilliwack’s tendency to stray from the game plan, and go to ‘hero’ mode when falling behind. I liked the way they stayed the course during the comeback attempt in the third period. However, one ghastly stat that sticks out – Chilliwack is now 1-10 this season when trailing after two periods. I don’t know exactly what that means – but I know it’s not positive.

4. Kevin Guiltinan eliminated one of the storylines in the first period when he shoved Mathieu Tibbet into the boards after he released the puck. Guiltinan was assesed a game misconduct on the hit. No bells were answered. Chilliwack’s Ryan Donohoe got ahold of Jeremiah Lutedke in the second period, causing him to tumble into the boards awkwardly. NOW – (Homer alert!) While Lutedke was banged up on the play, and I was happy to see he was okay – the puck was still there, and he was a fair distance from the boards. The fall into the boards was perhaps worse than the hit itself, but Donohoe was given a game misconduct for the hit, and they missed him the rest of the night. Particularly in the circle.

(You’re a homer, Fitzgerald!)

5. Chilliwack can take to heart that they maybe deserved a better fate on this night, but that’s not what hockey is all about in this league come February and March. They now have ten more games to figure this thing out before the real season gets underway.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Something’s Gotta Give: Prince George, Round 7

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-16-1-1 – 56 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Prince George Spruce Kings (21-17-1-7 – 50 points, 3rd in Mainland)

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

THE NUMBERS

LINEUPS

Here’s a few things going into tonight’s pivotal divisional matchup tonight at Prospera Centre:

1. In case you didn’t know already, the Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot, so they have that going for them, but the team has been struggling, losers of four straight. They’re just 3-3 in their last six games on home ice. Their opponent tonight, the Prince George Spruce Kings, are trying to defeat the Chiefs for the first time this season, and are coming off a game Friday where the loss to Surrey wasn’t as one-sided as the score suggested. (5-2)

pgrecap

2. In the last two calendar weeks, (which eliminates the home ice loss to Surrey. Their effort was strong for 40 minutes in that one.) the Chiefs have played exactly one strong period – according to me, anyway – the first frame of the West Kelowna game last Saturday, when they had the requisite energy on the forecheck, and kept it simple on the power play, driving the puck to the net, and scoring a pair of goals. Three of those tonight, and the home side should be alright.

3. An intriguing development – When the Chiefs have fallen behind in recent games – in this case all of the last four – they have a tendency to waver from team play, and instead look to one guy to play the role of hero. (Your turn….Okay, now my turn…) These kids are all competitive. It’s very tempting to stray from a gameplan when things go a little sideways as they have of late. Can’t do that, though. The results of the last two weeks speak for themselves.

4. These teams have faced one another a ton this year, so the approach should remain the same – Chilliwack needs to use their superior size to their advantage along the boards to win puck battles, and limit the space of the Spruce Kings’ fleet forward group in the middle of the ice.

5. Harvard’s incoming freshman class will be well represented in this game – Luke Esposito, Phil Zielonka, and Kevin Guiltinan of the Spruce Kings all on the ice this evening. Guiltinan is the league’s resident heavyweight, and a tough matchup for any forward down low. Guiltinan has also concussed a pair of Chiefs this season – Jaret Babych back in November, and back in January when he laid out a prone Mathieu Tibbet in the slot area, leading to a two game suspension. For the fans wondering if Guiltinan will have to…um…’answer the bell’…..

Maybe.

Depends on how close the game is. I understand the ‘code’ of the game, but the Chiefs should be more concerned about a Spruce Kings team that could close the gap to just four points in the division tonight IF Chilliwack can’t get it done for a fifth straight contest.

I think they will, though. They’re well rested, and have had a week to think about a blown 3-0 lead in West Kelowna. It’s time for this team to get it together on home ice, and return to their winning ways.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs’ Losing Streak Hits Four – West Kelowna 7, Chiefs 5

February 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Once again, in the wake of a fourth straight Chiefs loss, I’ll start with the positive:

Chilliwack’s first period Saturday night was their best in over a week from start to finish. They really brought the energy early on with their forecheck, and pressure on the Westside defense. The Warriors were playing with 5 D, with one of them an AP call-up. The Chiefs should have won that matchup going away throughout the night, and while they certainly did in the first period, leading to a pair of powerplay goals – Austin Plevy cashing in twice as the byproduct of driving hard to the net – It couldn’t be sustained. Against a shorthanded D crew for Westside, including the suspended Braxton Bilous, that was frustrating. One of many things that were on this night for the Chiefs.

Josh Hansen displayed familiar net-front presence on the Chiefs third goal – putting in a rebound for his 20th of the year set up by a Perron-Fontaine point shot, and Ryan Donohoe faceoff win.

It looked as though the Chiefs were ready to cruise at that point, but the Warriors – and give them credit for doing so, as Mitch Nardi left this game due to misconduct after hitting former teammate Phil Zielonka from behind – came back, getting it all back in the second period. David Pope got it started on the power play when he outwaited a sliding David Thompson in the slot and beat Gillam to the fivehole. Brett Zurazan’s point shot through a crowd cut the lead to one, and it was Pope again in front of the net to tie the game at three.

Tanner Cochrane, who missed on a shorthanded breakaway chance with the game still 3-0, would get it back for the Chiefs 28 seconds after West K tied the game. Cochrane forced a turnover just outside the slot area, and beat Tyler Briggs with a low shot to the glove side for his fifth of the season.

It was back and forth from there, as Spencer Graboski would give the Chiefs one more lead in the third. They couldn’t hold it long, as David Pope, and Brett Laschuck would strike to put the Warriors in front to stay.

Chilliwack’s coverage down low, be it on a penalty kill or otherwise, just wasn’t good enough. Too many quality chances in the slot for the likes of Marcus Basara, and Seb Lloyd tonight.

This team simply has to continue to look for answers. It feels right now as though they’re starting at square one a little bit – and I mean that in a good way, as their first period was terrific. It’s unfortunate I have to go the ‘building blocks’ route in February, but that’s the way a season goes sometimes, no matter how talented this team may be.

It will be a long week for the boys, as they will not play until the following Saturday at home against Prince George – a team they have gone 6-0 against this season.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Up Next: The West Kelowna Warriors

February 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-15-1-1 – 56 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS West Kelowna Warriors (19-12-3-8 – 49 points, 3rd in Interior)

(Royal LePage Place  –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk)

Just a few things going into tonight’s game – featuring a Chiefs team trying to find some continuity –

1. Salmon Arm was the better team 5 on 5 Friday night. Chilliwack has shown throughout the year they can be a force at even strength. They must get back to that on the road against a good team in the Interior conference. Certainly the players looked at to produce – the Zielonkas, Plevys, Espositos, etc- will have to, but it’s up to the others to swing the momentum with hard work on the forecheck, drawing the occasional penalty, and generating some energy – even scoring the odd goal or two. It’s the little things often in the BCHL, and the Chiefs have to do a better job of that.

2. Westside is without a pair of key guys – defenseman Braxton Bilous, and forward Shawn Hochhausen – their fourth leading scorer entering the weekend. Those two along with David Pope and Brennan Clark are all suspended following the fracas in Penticton last week. Chilliwack gets a boost – returning from suspension tonight is team Captain David Thompson.

3. The Chiefs are on the road – it doesn’t have to be an oil painting. I think it’s important for the boys to get back to basics tonight – carrying to centre, dumping it in, and chasing, winning battles along the walls – and hopefully that can lead to some quality scoring chances – something they just haven’t had enough of in two games with the Silverbacks.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.43 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 85.54% – (1st)

West Kelowna – Powerplay – 21.64 % (3rd) / Penalty Kill – 84.08% – (3rd)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

‘Backs Serve Chiefs Again

February 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Going into the game with the Silverbacks, the Chiefs talked about bringing the energy they lacked last Saturday night at Prospera Centre.

While there was a little more fight, it was still the Silverbacks who won a majority of the battles in a 3-1 Chilliwack loss at the Shaw Centre.

I’ll start with the positive for Chilliwack on this night – Ryan Donohoe returned to the lineup for the first time since mid-November. He slid right in, centering the second line between Josh Hansen and Trevor Hills. The coaching staff had raved about how Donohoe looked in practice, and he was Chilliwack’s best player on the ice Friday, setting up scoring chances, carrying the puck with confidence into the scoring areas, and was strong in the faceoff circle – something the Chiefs had lacked in the two losses on home ice last week. In a game where scoring chances were tough to come by, Ryan Donohoe was the leader of the pack in terms of creating those opportunities. Continued play from Ryan will only bode well for this team moving forward as they try to right the ship.

Salmon Arm is not a team that’s going to blow you out of the arena by lighting up a scoreboard, but they are willing to outwork you on any given night. For the second game in a row, it was the Silverbacks who were winning a majority of the battles. Their work on the penalty kill, and clogging up the shooting lanes frustrated the Chiefs’ power play all night. While Chilliwack arguably had the edge in special teams, it was the ‘Backs work ethic at five on five that won this game. Salmon Arm created a number of turnovers that, while didn’t lead directly to goals, changed the (football term coming up. The Super Bowl is on Sunday, afterall) field position for the Chiefs. Too many times they had to start in their own zone, or on their own side of centre.

Last week it was Jordan Levesque scoring twice. This week, it was Bryden Shaw. He would open the scoring for Salmon Arm on a well placed shot off the left wing in the second period, and added the empty netter with fourteen seconds left to seal it. Jeff Bowes’ game winner with just over a minute to play was the real back breaker though. Mitch Gillam was very frustrated as he left the ice, but it was hard to blame him considering the lack of run support.

While Donohoe was certainly a welcome addition to the roster on Friday night, Saturday marks the return of team Captain David Thompson, who has sat out the last two games, serving his suspension for the hit on Surrey’s Brady Shaw.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A ‘Backs Rematch

February 1, 2013 Leave a comment

ChilliwackChiefs

salmonarmlogo

 

Chilliwack Chiefs (27-14-1-1 – 56 points, 2nd in Mainland)

VS Salmon Arm Silverbacks (19-18-2-4 – 44 points, 4th in Interior)

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

It’s pretty simple, really.

The Chiefs know they need to be better. It’s for the best, perhaps, that they can be better against the team they came out so flat against less than a week ago.

Prince George did the Chiefs a favour on Thursday night, beating the Surrey Eagles, which keeps Chilliwack within three points of the Mainland division lead. The Spruce Kings however, are now just six back of Chilliwack after the Chiefs dropped those two games at home last weekend. Points and wins will serve them well this weekend in Salmon Arm, and West Kelowna, obviously.

Luke Esposito is second in the BCHL in scoring going into the weekend (59)

Luke Esposito is second in the BCHL in scoring going into the weekend (59)

David Thompson still has one game to serve following the hit on Surrey’s Brady Shaw last week, so the D-core will miss it’s leader and Captain. Josh Halpenny was left hung out to dry a few times against a hungrier Silverback team last week, so that must improve for the boys to get back in the W column.

That proverbial ‘energy’ has been missing since the 2nd intermission of the Surrey game one week ago. The team practiced (ahem) skated pretty hard this past week. I’m certain they don’t want another few days of that, so I suspect the energy will be there for this one, and again against West-K.

I like Chilliwack’s chances if they play with the fire that we saw for the first forty minutes against Surrey. Salmon Arm is sitting in a playoff spot right now because of the way they play. They don’t have a ton of skill. They don’t have a couple point producers that can overwhelm you – but they will outwork you. Chilliwack has to match that.

Esposito's linemate Austin Plevy is right behind him in 3rd. (58 points)

Esposito’s linemate Austin Plevy is right behind him in 3rd. (58 points)

The boys may get a bit of a boost this weekend as well. There’s a fan bus going on this trip to both games.  The players have talked about the energy that can provide, so it might be a factor on Friday night.

Let’s hope it is. It’s one thing to be outplayed. It’s another thing to not have the energy, or the effort level.

That’s what the Chiefs need Friday. Let’s hope they bring it.

Special Teams:

Chilliwack – Powerplay – 21.46 % (4th) /Penalty Kill – 85.19% – (2nd)

Salmon Arm – Powerplay – 18.60 % (9th) / Penalty Kill – 82.61% – (4th)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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