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Series Preview: Chiefs V. Prince George Spruce Kings

ChfVSPrincegeorge

Game One: Prince George Spruce Kings At Chilliwack Chiefs

Prospera Centre, 6:30 pregame, 7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Hawk

Ticket information can be found here. (Can be purchased at the box office on game days as well, of course.)

Chiefs/Spruce Kings numbers

Goaltending matchup

Tonight’s Program with head to head numbers

This is fun, isn’t it?

After a pair of weekends where games sort of mattered, but really didn’t – it’s on now. I’m really looking forward to this series. Here’s why:

– With this best of five format in the first two rounds, I really don’t think the higher seed has that much of an advantage. The onus is on Chilliwack here to do what they’re ‘supposed’ to do and win the first two games. A split, and you’re sweating it out a little bit while allowing the ‘Underdog’ a chance to win the series at home in games 3 and 4. Throw in the nutty schedule – If this series goes the distance, the teams would travel from Prince George to Chilliwack, arriving at 7am the morning after game 4, and have to play a do or die game 5 12 hours later – and you’ve got yourself the ultimate ‘Don’t screw this up’ scenario for both teams.

Home ice advantage starts tonight for Chilliwack, and rolls through till the end of Saturday. That’s their edge right now, as small as it may be. They must take advantage, and win these first two at home. It’s pretty cut and dry, otherwise, the Spruce Kings can play with house money going into game three at the Prince George Coliseum Monday night, and if there’s anything that hockey has taught us – You don’t want an ‘Underdog’ to play with house money.

– I use the term ‘Underdog’ in quotations because the season series was a little closer than the numbers would suggest. Chilliwack did go 6-2 against the Spruce Kings this season, but PG did take the last two meetings at Prospera in the regular year, and one of those games in Chilliwack was squandered by the ‘Kings in the final minute, and overtime. Dave Dupas’ club has the confidence that comes with knowing what it takes to win in that building – big, rabid crowd or not.

– The Chiefs have been helped along this year by a few players who have had terrific seasons. Two thirty goal scorers in Austin Plevy (30) and Phil Zielonka, (36 – 16 in a Chief uniform since coming over at the deadline) the reigning Coastal Conference R.O.T.Y. in Luke Esposito, who led the league in assists by a mile, (54) and the Conference MVP in goaltender Mitch Gillam. ( 6-2, 1.75 GAA, .945 SV%, 2 shutouts against the Spruce Kings this season)

Prince George takes more of the ‘committee’ approach, which can make them dangerous. One player in particular that stands out for Chilliwack is Coltyn Hansen. Hansen scored three of his 21 goals against the Chiefs this year, and can be a game-breaker with his blinding speed in the middle of the ice. The Chiefs’ D-core must locate him at all times when he’s out there, because Hansen has snuck behind for a breakaway or two this season. Their goaltender, Kirk Thompson, is as important to the ‘Kings as Gillam for Chilliwack. He has shown the ability to steal games at Prospera Centre, and Thompson will have to do that if his team is to earn at least a split.

– I really liked Chilliwack’s aggresiveness on the forecheck as the regular season drew to a close. I think they’ll have to play that way against a big Prince George D-core, and do their best to make life difficult. If the Spruce Kings’ defensemen are constantly looking over their shoulders, expecting to take a hit when going back for the puck, it will hinder their ability to move the puck up ice to their smaller, fleet group of forwards. Taking away the middle of the ice on the bigger surface at Prospera has been a key for the Chiefs against this team all year, and bringing a little more juice than usual on the forecheck can help that. Chilliwack’s also put extra emphasis on closing out in the shooting lanes lately. If they can keep shots coming from the outside, Gillam will settle in very quickly, opening up an advantage for the home side.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

– Coltyn Hansen of Prince George can be a terror when shorthanded. So can Ryan Donohoe. (2 goals, one assist shorthanded in the last two games) Wash.

– Prince George has a big, physical group of defensemen who can provide points from the back end. So do the Chiefs. Wash.

– Chilliwack has the better horses up front offensively for a short playoff series. Edge to Chilliwack.

– Kirk Thompson has had a wonderful year, and has the ability to do some game stealin’, but Mitch Gillam is well rested, has shut out Prince George twice this season, and that Conference MVP was voted on by the coaches. That’s not an accident. His time, his year. Edge to Chilliwack.

– Special Teams: Overall, Major Edge to Chilliwack. Especially with this recent aggresive PK/blocking every shot thing they’ve got going on right now.

Prediction: Chiefs in Four.

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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