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Cleaning Up: Rivermen Edge Chiefs

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

Quick things following a 4-3 Langley victory Wednesday night at Prospera Centre:

1. The game was close, but that was because Josh Halpenny gave his teammates a chance on Wednesday night to make it so. He made a few big saves in this one, including a shorthanded breakaway on Kevan Killistoff. You couldn’t ask for too much more from the local kid on Wednesday. Langley carried a lot of the play territorially in the game, with the Chiefs spending too much time in their own zone, particularly in the second period. Credit the Langley forecheck/pressure for hemming the Chiefs in like they did. It was far cry from what we saw two weeks ago at the Langley Events Centre.

2. I made a big thing earlier today about Langley taking penalties. They killed off five plus minutes of penalties to start the third with the game still in doubt. And after that played out. Shay Laurent had a breakout pass bank off Quentin McShane’s skate right to Will Cook, who began a three way passing play that was finished by James Robinson. While that goal wasn’t the winner, it felt like a dagger, and seeing the Chiefs give up one in that fashion – a bad turnover – it was a nod back to the first few days of the season. Little things, man. Langley did them. The Chiefs too often did not. That’s what cost them. Credit the Riv’ for doing so. That’s how you pick up points on the road.

3. Plenty of one goal games for the Chiefs lately – five of their last six have been decided by one tally. When you have one goal games, the differences aren’t that big. Comes back to the little things – Not executing on a power play that went 0 for 5. Kurt Black nearly tying the game in the final two minutes off an inspired rush that rolled just wide of the goalpost in tight. Not getting nearly enough quality looks with Halpenny out for the extra attacker.

This team is competitive. They’ll win more games no question. But attention to detail will decide many of them. Langley paid a little more attention on Wednesday night.

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Midweek Riv’: Chiefs Host Langley

October 30, 2013 Leave a comment

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Chilliwack Chiefs (4-9-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Langley Rivermen (11-5-1-1, 1st in Mainland Division)

(Wednesday, October 30th, Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

I’ll freely admit: I’m really excited to get to the rink tonight. It’s the only game on the BCHL schedule, and it’s a good one, with the division’s top team at the moment battling an officially ‘Frisky’ Chiefs squad that’s started to string some positives together, including consecutive wins.

This lack of a break in the Chiefs schedule is hopefully a benefit to them, as they’ve won their last two games over divisonal opponents, and do have a win over Langley under their belt from two weeks ago. The local boys are playing some of their most consistent hockey, and appear to have something brewing with the top line of Austin Plevy, Zach Diamontoni, and Blake Gober. For the last two years, the Chiefs always had a top line that could create chances when they were needed. Those three mentioned above have proven in their small sample size together (the last three games, two of them wins)  that it can be done consistently.

Chilliwack took Langley out of their game early on October 16th, and the Riv’ never really got on track that night. Bobby Henderson’s club has the potential to GO OFF offensively, so it’s going to be important for the Chiefs to come out physical, and establish their forecheck – kinda like they did two weeks ago. You don’t want to fall behind early against the Rivermen, a team that thrives on in-game momentum. (Ask Coquitlam)

In that third period on October 16th, the Rivermen spent too much time reacting out of frustration and taking silly penalties while they were still very much in the game at 2-0. I wrote this piece post-game:

Langley was undisciplined in the 3rd period. If they didn’t spend so much time in the box, they would have given themselves a better chance to cut into the 2 goal lead. Austin Azurdia took a couple extra strides to plant Kurt Black behind the Langley net – with his forearms, and not his shoulder, popping Black’s helmet off, and knocking him off his feet.

NOW, Kurt Black is kiiiind of annoying to play against, and he did put a hit on Nathan Craft that led to a boarding penalty early in the third, but if a guy like Azurdia – who wears an A, mind you – is taking a blow to the head penalty like that? That’s a problem moving forward for Langley. Chilliwack had nine powerplays, and while they only scored on one of them – they were happy to have them.  Two of those powerplays came in the final four minutes, essentially ending the game for the Rivermen. Not characteristic of a team that had won six in a row.

I don’t mean to pick on Azurdia here, but I couldn’t help but notice this earlier in the week from the ‘disciplinary action’ page on BCHL.ca –

26-Oct-13 The Langley Rivermens Austin Azurdia is assessed a 2 game suspension for receiving a Major Penalty for Blow to the Head.

Oh. Well, then. One less skilled forward for the Chiefs to worry about this evening.

Look – Langley’s the best team in the division entering tonight’s play, and rightfully so. They’ve got a good group of forwards, and a veteran blueline (Viktor Dombrovsky was named to Team Canada West today)  with a couple up and comers to add a little variety. But if there’s ONE thing you can do – it’s goad the Rivermen into taking some really silly penalties.

I’ve seen them do it. More than once.

And to support the assertion: Langley leads the league in ‘Number Of Times Shorthanded’ at 96. Meanwhile, up the highway,  the Chiefs – playing HARVEY SMYL’S NOTED BRAND OF OLD SCHOOL THUGGERY*  (*”Noted brand” according to every other fanbase in the league forever) have played shorthanded just 74 times.

That’s 15th in the league. Out of 16 teams.

Oh. Well, then.

Anyway – This is an important game for the Chiefs tonight. They’re in the midst of trying to re-establish themselves on home ice. The win over Surrey, and the decent showing against Cowichan were nice steps from last weekend. There’s no better way to continue that than by knocking off the best the Mainland division has to offer on a Wednesday night.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A Streak! (It’s two, but still! Chiefs win again.)

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Good teams erase deficits on the road. Good teams make plays to win games on the road. Good teams get big saves at key times to win games on the road.

The Chilliwack Chiefs made it consecutive victories Sunday, knocking off division rival Coquitlam 4-3. Here’s what I’ll remember:

– Lyndon Stanwood made a biiiig save on a shorthanded 2 on 1 in the second period when the game was 3-1 Express. Cory Mackin, who was extremely dangerous in the first ten minutes of this game, recieved the pass from Ryan Rosenthal, and appeared to have Stanwood beat. The veteran goaltender somehow got his right pad on the puck, and kept it out. Chilliwack began the comeback from there. If that save doesn’t happen, it’s 4-1, and maybe the Chiefs head home with one win in three games on the weekend.  Lyndon made plenty others in the third as the Express were pressing for the tie, but that was the biggest one for me.

– Quentin McShane scored his second goal in three games since joining the team. Say this for the Chiefs: They get offensive push from the blueline this season. If the forwards can crank it up a touch, they’ll be better than fine. McShane finished off a sequence started by Austin Plevy, who carried hard to the net shorthanded. A scramble ensued, and McShane stepped into one from the high slot. It got the Chiefs back in the game at 2-1 after the Express had owned the first ten minutes.

– I liked Plevy’s game tonight. Both of them. Austin finished with two assists, and drove the net hard time after time. He had another shorthanded breakaway as well – didn’t score this time, though. Teams have to take note on the power play when he’s on the ice now. He’ll go if he’s got a lane. Nice setup to Kurt Black on the third goal as well. His younger brother Mitch played well on the fourth line with Jordan Kawaguchi and Brandon Volpe, getting pressure in the offensive zone. Mitch also won three third period faceoffs cleanly with the game on the line. Nice to see the younger guys doing the little things.

– The Chiefs as a group seem to be better in the circle the last few games. Zach Diamontoni is becoming more of a pain to deal with in the circle for other teams. Early in the year when the losses were piling, the Chiefs would get killed in the circle every night. Not anymore. Biiiiig difference.

– Advantageous for the Chiefs to keep this string of games going right away, as the Langley Rivermen pay a visit Wednesday night. Another important game against a divisional opponent. Should be fantastic. Let’s hope this Chiefs team is really on to something.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Knock Off Eagles For First Home Win

October 27, 2013 Leave a comment

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Just a few things. Quick turnaround for the fellas as they face Coquitlam on the road at 2pm on Sunday….

1. Josh Halpenny’s save off Brett Mulcahy in the slot from point blank range with just over a minute left to preserve the win will stick out for me. Great save from the local kid with the game on the line. You need saves like that sometimes to win hockey games late, and for this team, with wins hard to come by early on….that was important. Just as important as Austin Plevy’s shorthanded breakaway goal to take the lead halfway through the final period.

2. Blake Gober had a finger broken Friday night, and spent alot of that night waiting in ER to get it patched up. He played on the top line again Saturday night, and scored his first career BCHL goal with his parents in attendance from Colleyville, Texas. Nice story there. Gober battled hard – he, Plevy, and Zach Diamontoni were strong again. Diamontoni is tough to deal with down low, He protects the puck very well – almost overnight. You forget sometimes that the new guys need time to adjust when they make the jump to this league. You can file Zach in that category, and Gober as well. It adds a couple of intriguing wrinkles moving forward.

3. T.J Roche has had a decent weekend thus far. I haven’t noticed him out there – the ultimate compliment for any defenseman. Speaking of blueliners – Carter Cochrane scored again Saturday – his team leading fifth. All due respect to Carter – I think it’s the sign of a team that’s struggling when a defenseman is leading the way in goals. Need the forwards to produce a little bit more than they have, but it will get there.

Overall, the last two games from an entertainment value have been terrific. You can throw the Cowichan game from last weekend in there, too. That’s important after the general tenor with this team earlier in the year. It’s a better, improving, harder working product than a month ago, no question about it. Since the Vernon collapse, there’s only one game in the last four you can throw out the window – the Victoria game. That’s a good thing.

Two more big divisional tilts looming with Coquitlam and Langley Sunday and Wednesday. If you’re going to make hay, may as well do it against Mainland opponents.

You know, like the Chiefs did on Saturday.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Rivalry Renwed: Eagles In Town

October 26, 2013 Leave a comment

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Chilliwack Chiefs (2-9-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Surrey Eagles (7-8-1-0, 4th in Mainland Division)

(Saturday October 26th, Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Sure, the two teams are 4/5 in the division going into this game, but that doesn’t matter. There’s still a rivalry there, man. There’s familar faces, too. Surrey Captain Brett Mulcahy is still in the fold, along with noted pain-in-the-butt Colton Mackie, and key playoff performer Nic Pierog. Pierog and Mulcahy are leading the Eagles in scoring so far this year, and are helped along by newcomer Jonah Renouf, with six goals and 17 points of his own. Players like Shay Laurent, Austin Plevy, Eric Roberts, Mathieu Tibbet, and Jaret Babych all know what it means when Surrey comes to visit. It doesn’t matter that they’ve won twice in fourteen games.

I liked how the Chiefs played on Friday night. One of the main focuses offensively for this team has been trying to generate 2nd and 3rd chances. Chilliwack had a few against Cowichan. They made ‘Caps goaltender Robin Gusse work. Gusse came to work though, and shut the Chiefs down in the 3rd period when they were really pressing for the tying goal. They’ll be in good shape tonight if they can generate the same things.

Blake Gober was moved up to the first line on Friday night with Austin Plevy and Zach Diamontoni after spending a couple weeks on the fourth line/out of the lineup. He responded last night with his best game in a Chief uniform. He could have had a couple goals, and was dangerous for stretches. That whole line was good, but the emergence of Gober was a great sign moving forward.

Finally saw the first Cowichan goal on tape after newcomer Quentin McShane opened the scoring last night: The Capitals got a great bounce on a shoot in from the red line off the faceoff, Dane Gibson made a good pass to Myles Powell, who beat everyone down the ice, and deked Lyndon Stanwood for the goal. Eight seconds. That’s how long the Chiefs held a lead last night. I was just trying to figure out how that happened in eight seconds. Turned out it was pretty straightforward.

Surrey’s starting to turn it around a bit after losing five straight games – They’ve gone unbeaten in three with new head coach Peter Schaefer, and a host of new players – only Mulcahy, Pierog, and Mackie remain. Also – former Chief Garrett Forster is expected to be in the lineup for his fourth game as an Eagle – wearing #96

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Three Day Weekend: Capitals Pay A Visit

October 25, 2013 Leave a comment

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Chilliwack Chiefs (2-7-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Cowichan Capitals (9-8-0-1, 2nd in Island Division)

(Friday October 25th, Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Three things real quick:

1. I’m not sure when you can officially stop using the phrase “Well….It’s still early” but I think we’ve reached that point for the Chilliwack Chiefs. This is an important stretch coming up for the hockey club – Seven games in the next ten days, including five of those seven games at home. This would be a time for a team to make some hay in the standings by taking advantage of a little home cooking. The caveat here is that the Chiefs have yet to win on home ice this season – their most recent home game was the ‘Coulda Woulda Shoulda’ collapse against Vernon back on October 12th when they surrendered the three goal third period lead in the last six minutes.

Road teams can’t go into Prospera thinking ‘Two points’ anymore. The Chiefs have to re-establish their building as a tough place to play, and with five of the next seven at home, they can do that starting tonight.

2. Part of re-establishing the building is getting off to a fast start. Establishing the forecheck, being tough to play against along the wall, getting pucks deep, and all that other cliched coach-speak stuff. A few times this year the Chiefs have fallen behind the eight-ball early on the road. That sense of ‘Here we go’ can set in for the road team when the home side scores one or two in the first period. Only five times this season in 13 games have the Chiefs scored first. I think it would help this club tremendously to do everything they can to take an early lead – and hang on to it for awhile. Confidence breeds confidence.

3. I’m going to steal a Soupy line here: All hands on deck. – For this team to win, they need everybody going. Everybody. No passengers. These kids have worked their tails off this season, and as cynical as I can be in this space sometimes, I do feel bad for the boys when they don’t get the results they’re looking for. As an athlete at a level like this one, eventually you get tired of losing. I know it’s frustrating for these guys, and eventually they’ll all decide – Enough.

I hope it begins tonight. You don’t make the playoffs in October/November (if this league actually ever decides on a playoff format) but you can miss them. Fourteen big points available over a small ten day stretch. Let’s hope the boys can take advantage here. It’s time.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

So That Happened: Chiefs 3rd Period Rally Falls Just Short

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment
  1. While the Chiefs should be commended for the fire they showed in erasing a four goal deficit to force overtime just one week after the opposite had happened to them – They also know you can’t spot a team a four goal lead on the road in the third period. Brandon Volpe opened the scoring for the Chiefs four minutes into the game, but the ‘Caps stormed back with five unanswered. You eliminate those five unanswered, and you’re in the game – obviously.
  2. NOW – I’ll say this: When Austin Plevy found Jaret Babych in front of the net on a powerplay to beat Francis Marrotte, and cut the deficit to 5-2 with 14 minutes left, you kind of got the sense the fellas were alive. I just didn’t realize how alive they were at the time.
  3. Cooper Rush scored the third goal, and he could have had three tonight. He had at least eight shots on goal, and a couple of them were blocked. His big shot was a major weapon for the Chiefs tonight even in defeat, and that can provide this team with an added wrinkle moving forward if the consistency is there. Every time the puck came back to Rush tonight, you knew he was going to get it through, and on the net. Makes a major difference.
  4. Jordan Kawaguchi scored the fourth goal, as Blake Gober found him in the high slot for the slapper between the five hole. The three making up the fourth line for Chilliwack Saturday – Gober, Kawaguchi, and Volpe – was Chilliwack’s best line at times. Nice for Gober to pick up a couple of assists after drawing back into the lineup.
  5. The tying goal with 35 seconds left was a simple one – getting traffic to the net. Ben Butcher was the hero in front, scoring his third goal in as many games.
  6. A shame they couldn’t cap the comeback in overtime, though. The Chiefs had a powerplay to start the extra session, and couldn’t get it done. Marotte got just enough of an Austin Plevy shot in the slot after the Captain had created enough space in between the circles. Still don’t know how that one stayed out. Riley O’Connor scored on a scramble play in front at the other end, and that was that.
  7. I think it’s great the boys showed some fire late. They could have packed it in, finished the game at 5-2 or something, and waited for Victoria on Sunday. They didn’t do it that way. I liked that. Hopefully they can keep any hole-digging to a minimum on Sunday afternoon.
Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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