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Archive for September, 2013

Process: Part 6 – (A loss, but positives)

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

*For those wondering about the title of this post, the word ‘process’ has been floating around since the start of the year. I get a kick out of it.

Now:

Jokes aside, it is a process with this group, and there were some things to like in a 5-2 loss Sunday to Salmon Arm. Cam and I were impressed with the team’s first period. The energy was clearly there, and I want to use the word energy, because I don’t think ‘desperation’ fits the description. the seaon’s 22 days old. Not time for desperation yet.

Anyway, at the forefront of that energy was the line of Kyle Westeringh, Andrew Sillard, who drew back in after sitting for a couple games, and Brandon Volpe, playing in his first two games of the season. Some good work on the forecheck to set some kind of a tone. It was refreshing, given that the opponent has set the tone for the Chiefs too often this year already.

The sequence on Ben Butcher’s goal early in the third period: Jaret Babych makes a nice touch pass to Cooper Rush, Cooper takes off down the wing to force the issue, and slides a nice pass over to Butcher, who makes no mistake for his first of the year. It was pretty. Rush also had an assist on the Kurt Black tip-in, keeping the shot low, which was key – a few times tonight on powerplays, Chief defencemen, including Cooper and Carter Cochrane, let go some head high slapshots. Babych got tagged in front of the net a couple times, and Austin Plevy took a puck in the back as well. If it stays low, the percentages improve, as Rush showed on the second goal.

Austin Plevy was named Captain Sunday. (Assistants: Shay Laurent, Eric Roberts, and Jaret Babych) I thought he had a pretty good weekend in terms of his compete level. He’s overdue for a six-goal-in-three-game type tear, because he probably could have had at least four in these two games. He’ll bust out eventually.

It’s not just him in terms of finish, it’s the whole group. Now Cam and I don’t wear uniforms, and as a guy who scored maybe six goals in a stellar house league career in Port Coquitlam, I should probably just shut up, BUT…..you do feel for the guys sometimes when they’re just not getting those bounces. If it’s wearing on Cam and I just watching, it starts to wear on the players a little too.

Josh Halpenny got the call in goal after 22 days of not getting the call in goal. Tough spot for the kid to come in, given that Stanwood had been great his last two times out.  Halpenny’s  first period was fine. That second goal from Andrew Farney in the second period to put SA up by two was……well….deflating. The two SA goals in 23 seconds in the third didn’t help either.

Credit to Salmon Arm for finishing off their trip in style. They lost in Nanaimo Friday, beat Victoria Saturday night, got on a ferry, and picked up the win here. Alex Gillies scored again on a goalmouth scramble – his ninth of the season – Chilliwack has eight goals as a team, by comparison – and was named first star. Their head coach Troy Mick singled Gillies out as a guy that stuck through a phase with the ‘Backs where he knew it was going to be a rebuilding project, and a – wait for it – PROCESS – and now he’s scoring at an alarming rate.

Kudos to their goaltender as well. Adam Clark looked pretty relaxed in making 32 saves, but then again, the Chiefs have made a habit of making goaltenders look relaxed this season.

There were more chances tonight. Some quality, and some positives to take away, but I hope this team starts to see some results soon. They’ll give it a go at practice this week and get ready for the Coquitlam Express in a home and home beginning Friday on the road.

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Spruce Kings Edge Chiefs In Low-Scoring Affair

September 29, 2013 Leave a comment

One win in five games. Six goals in five games. The Chilliwack Chiefs recieved some fine goaltending from Lyndon Stanwood on Saturday night, but couldn’t provide the run support in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Jake Lebrun scored his league leading 8th of the season in the third period on a goalmouth scramble. The goal was called off initially, but ruled good after a conference between the officials. The right call was eventually made, as the replay showed Lebrun had found the back of the net.

Chilliwack was unable to tie the game late, despite a powerplay with Stanwood out for the extra attacker. The Chiefs couldn’t get a single shot with the 6 on 4 in the final 90 seconds.

Their best chance in the third came in the opening moments. Austin Plevy kept a clearing attempt in the zone, and found Jaret Babych at the right circle with a perfect pass – Prince George goaltender Alex Murray dove across post to post and made a spectacular glove save. It was a microcosm of how things have been going offensively for the Chiefs – despite 30 shots, they just couldn’t find a way to get more than one past Murray, who has now beaten Chilliwack twice this season.

The lone Chiefs goal came on a 5 on 3 late in the first period, when Austin Plevy’s centering pass from the right of the crease found it’s way to Zach Diamontoni, who shoveled in his first career BCHL goal.

Skylar Pacheco would tie the game in the second on a powerplay, beating Stanwood from between the circles high on the blocker side.

Stanwood made 37 saves and deserved a better fate. His counterpart Murray was named first star, while Diamontoni and Jake Lebrun were 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

The powerplay goal for Chilliwack snapped an 0 for 22 drought to begin the season on the man-advantage.

More thoughts tomorrow as the team prepares for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Been Awhile: Chiefs Host Prince George

September 28, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSPrincegeorge

Chilliwack Chiefs (1-2-1-0, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Prince George Spruce Kings (3-3-0-1, 4th in Mainland Division)

(Saturday September 28th, Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Lineups

A game. An actual game.

I know it was only two weeks ago, but Chilliwack’s 2-1 overtime victory over the Spruce Kings in Prince George felt like it happened about six months ago at this point. After two weeks of practice, and a little bonding off the ice, the boys will finally get back at it in their ‘official’ home opener at Prospera Centre.

Prince George is in the middle of a three game Mainland division trip. They’re coming off a victory last night in Coquitlam that saw them erase a 2-0 deficit. They’ll finish up in Coquitlam again on Sunday after the game here tonight. Jake Lebrun has been leading the way offensively for the Spruce Kings, with seven goals in his first seven games, already surpassing his total from last season. Bryant Christian and Brent Lashuk are right up there as well with 9 and 8 points respectively. Jesse Jenks earned the victory last night in goal, so it’s possible Alex Murray could get the nod this evening. Murray was in for both games against Chilliwack two weeks ago.

Prince George Head Coach Dave Dupas said a couple weeks ago that he doesn’t put too much stock into ‘momentum’ in a back to back situation. While his team has a win in their pockets already on this trip, they’ll be dealing with a Chiefs team that’s (obviously) rested and ready to go – ready to compete against someone other than each other in practice.

Because the Chiefs haven’t played in two weeks, the standings look a little unbalanced, but there’s two numbers that stick out : 0/20 on the powerplay this season, and only five goals as a team in four games. Last time out in Prince George saw a few goalposts, and a couple pucks cleared off the goalline. Some good things have happened on the powerplay with puck movement, but it’s about the results – the stuff that guys like me look at. To be fair, they’ve also gone 17/19 on the penalty kill – a rate of 89.4% – second best in the league – stuff that guys like me look at.

It’ll be a good night at the rink. B.C. Lions GM Wally Buono is in the house, the team is unveiling their new uniforms. Could feel like a new start of sorts after the week off if they can earn a positive result against a division rival.

I’ll be completely honest – I’m just anxious to see this group back out on the ice again. It’s been too long.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Monday Conversation: Kiefer McNaughton

September 25, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s nice to have games this weekend. Last weekend felt a little strange. That’s the first thing that came up with Chiefs blueliner Kiefer McNaughton Monday night on 89.5 The Drive’s ‘Sports Talk Live’.

You know the drill. It’s lengthy. Only three days ’till the team is back at it against Prince George.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Monday Conversation: Shay Laurent

September 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Let me just say it’s odd that the team doesn’t play at all this weekend.

Anyway – Shay Laurent joined me on ‘Sports Talk Live’ (6-7pm Monday nights – 89.5 The Drive) to talk about his brief stint in Coquitlam with the Express, coming back to Chilliwack for his final year of Junior, and me completely blanking towards the end and forgetting a question that I wanted to ask him. (It came out later on.)

As usual – It’s a lengthy one.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Dub. The First.

September 15, 2013 Leave a comment

A night of a few firsts for the Chilliwack Chiefs in Prince George – Carter Cochrane with his first BCHL goal, Zach Diamontoni with his first BCHL point, Lyndon Stanwood with his first win as a Chilliwack Chief, and the Chiefs first victory of the 2013/2014 season – a 2-1 overtime triumph over the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Last week, in my impromptu list of ‘returning veterans’ on this year’s team, I forgot to include Kiefer McNaughton – I felt like a dope. He busted my chops. It was funny.

It was tough to miss him Saturday, as the veteran blueliner scored the winner 55 seconds into overtime, and added an assist on the Cochrane goal – both defenseman jumped into the rush on a delayed penalty, and after Alex Murray made the save, Cochrane was able to jam it in at the left of the crease – for another first – the Chiefs first lead of the season.

Some other things:

  1. Lyndon Stanwood: Not a returning veteran, but a veteran all the same, and he played like one between the pipes on Saturday. Solid saves and sound play throughout. Chilliwack was still heavily outshot for most of this one, but it didn’t matter on this night with Stanwood back there. Deserving of the first star tonight after a 42 save performance (With a nod to McNaughton, who was probably robbed of a star selection on Saturday.)
  2. Chilliwack could have had a little more run support for their goaltender – Jaret Babych rang one off the crossbar, Austin Plevy had a couple pucks cleared off the goal line at the last moment, and couldn’t get the puck to settle down on a breakaway in the 2nd. Some bad puck luck for the Chiefs tonight, but they found a way anyways.
  3. I liked Austin Plevy’s game. Determined. Jordan Kawaguchi was on his line with Babych for the first two periods, and they both looked good. Kurt Black got some time with the Plevy/Babych tandem in the third period and played well.
  4. Powerplay went 0-fer again. If the puck rolled a couple more inches once or twice, I wouldn’t bring it up. But there’s a few things to work on with this group moving forward.
  5. They’ll have plenty of time – they don’t play again until the 28th of September against Prince George. Maybe some more time to bond as a group as well. Although wins are the best for that kind of thing.
  6. Dave Dupas getting tossed in the third period, presumably unhappy with the Chiefs getting four powerplays in the third period, followed by a missed call on one of his guys. Both coaches were tossed this weekend. Strange symmetry.
  7. A win against a divisional opponent. Those add up at the end of the year. Even the three pointers. Until the 28th….
Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Bouncing Back (With No Other Choice)

September 14, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSPrincegeorge

Chilliwack Chiefs (0-2-1-0, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Prince George Spruce Kings (1-2-0-0, 4th in Mainland Division)

(Saturday September 14th, Prince George Coliseum  –  6:30 pregame/7 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Two.

That’s the number of games the Chiefs have been forced to ‘shut the door on’ and get back at it the following day. This is troubling, given that the team has played three games.

Last night’s 7-1 loss to the Spruce Kings didn’t have too many positives attatched to it. It’s tough to find some – save for the occasional playmaking of 16 year old Jordan Kawaguchi, who made some nice decisions in the offensive zone at times – and the Chiefs are staring at a long busride back home if they can’t get some positive vibes going in the back end of this two game set.

Austin Plevy made a terrific play to set up Jaret Babych for the team’s only goal last night, outwaiting the entire P.G. team as he cut across the middle, and found Babych backdoor. The issue is that it doesn’t happen nearly enough. Only 19 shots on Friday. Only three goals in the first three games. Teams need to work for their chances, and the Chiefs just haven’t been able to generate the offense they’d like to thus far.

The third Prince George goal last night probably should have been waved off – an apparent goaltender interference call went uncalled as Lyndon Stanwood was knocked over. For a younger team like the Chiefs, a moment like that can deflate you. The Spruce Kings would score again two minutes later, and that was that.

While they’d like to win the game tonight, I think it would serve the Chiefs best to take it one shift at a time, as boring and cliche as that sounds. This team needs something – anything – to get the momentum going, and 20 minutes of sustained pressure with pucks on the net can help them. Working harder to win pucks along the boards defensively can help them.

They know what they have to do. We just haven’t totally seen it yet.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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