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Scattered Thoughts: Kings Remain Perfect On Road At Chiefs Expense

November 30, 2013 Leave a comment

The Powell River Kings showed why they’re the best team in the BCHL at the moment, falling behind early, but turning it on late to defeat the Chiefs 8-5 Friday at Prospera.

Here’s what I’ll take:

1. As I tweeted after it happened, very pleased with the Chiefs first period tonight. The three goals helped, but the energy was there. The forecheck was there. The little things were there. It was the complete opposite of what happned against Langley last Saturday. Chilliwack jumped on the Kings right away, and leading the way was the Hand-Tibbet-Silard line. Really liked what they did to begin the game. Tibbet and Hand finished with two points each, and those three seem to play off each other real well.

As a group, the Chiefs even limited the high powered Kings to nine shots in the first period. They killed off the only penalty. You know….

(Here it comes)

…If they could just find a way to play three periods like that….

(And there it is. Heard that before this season, haven’t we?)

2. Look – You knew the Kings were going to provide an answer in the second period. This is a veteran team Kent Lewis has over there, and there’s a reason they’ve lost four games in regulation all season. Jeff Smith came on in relief for Jonah Imoo to give the Kings a boost, and when Drew Dorantes cut the Chilliwack lead to 3-2 on a shorthanded breakaway (third shorthanded goal allowed by the Chiefs in the last two games) it felt like the Kings were on their way.

Powell River would add the next two as well, until Austin Plevy was fed a hard centering pass by Zach Diamontoni in between the circles. Plevy made no mistake for his team leading 12th, and we were tied at four going to the 3rd. The teams traded goals early in the final period, including Cochrane’s second from near one of his favourite spots – the left circle – but the Kings answered with three in a row to close, and that was it.

Chilliwack had to play mistake free hockey to beat Powell River Friday night. Funny thing about mistake free hockey: Playing it is nearly impossible. While they will make mistakes, they must have the same jump Saturday night in Penticton against an ornery Vees team that’s dropped three of their last four games, including the last two at the South Okanagan Events Centre – Saturday night’s venue.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Kings Invade Prospera

November 29, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSpowellriver

Chilliwack Chiefs (7-16-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Powell River Kings (19-4-1-1, 1st in Island Division) (Friday, November 29th,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

The Chiefs enter the weekend eight points back of the final playoff spot behind Surrey, with three games in hand on their rivals. The Chiefs are also entering a very difficult portion of their schedule. Powell River has cruised along this season, as you can see by their record at the top of the page. You may recall that they handled the Chiefs 6-1 back on opening night at the League Showcase.

Plenty has happened since then, but with the Kings here tonight, followed by road games in Penticton and Langley, nothing comes easy for the home side.

New Chiefs defenseman Cody Bardock will join his new teammates Friday, but it remains to be seen if he’ll play against Powell River after driving down from Trail.

“We just felt we needed to improve in that area.” Harvey Smyl said of the acquisition Thursday.

“Cody’s a big man who’s decent defensively, and has a good shot. He’s played Junior A for a number of years, so lots of experience. Certainly an area we felt needed to be addressed to make a push here before Christmas.”

As for Friday’s game, it’s clear the Chiefs need to have that focus and intensity, because they didn’t have those things against Langley. It starts there, and when you consider what the team had done before last Saturday – finding the back of the net with regularity, while shoring things up a bit in their own end – They’ll be sure to give the Island division’s best a good game. Easier said than done, of course.

Powell River is a beast because they can score, and they’re really stingy. The Kings lead the league in goal differential by a mile at +41, and boast some real talent up front in the form of Ryan Scarfo, Drew Dorantes, and Jarid Lukosevicius. Both the Kings PP and Penalty Kill ranks second in the league, including the best power play on the road.

Jeff Smith and Jonah Imoo provide a formidable tandem in goal. Smith has nine wins in ten starts as an 18 year old rookie.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

The Talk: Former Chief Gillam on his ENG, first win

November 27, 2013 Leave a comment

You may have seen this by now. If not, a quick primer:

Former Chiefs goaltender Mitch Gillam (2 time Team MVP, Conference MVP, League All-Star, Owner of a beauty wardrobe) made his first start Tuesday night with Cornell in a game on home ice against Niagara.

He won his first start with Big Red, which is enough cause for celebration.

But then this happened:

Gillam becomes the 8th NCAA goaltender to score, and the third to do so in his first game. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes on Wednesday morning to talk about it:

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Momentum Halt: Rivermen Cruise Saturday

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment

A little late, but needless to say, there wasn’t much to say following last night’s loss to the Langley Rivermen.

If anything it was frustrating – frustrating when you consider what this group had begun to string together. Not just in terms of wins, but in terms of work ethic, and consistent play. There was a good vibe going into Saturday night at home against a division rival.

Unfortunatley, Langley hijacked that good vibe and didn’t look back.

Special teams made the difference in this game, just as they did the night before in West Kelowna. Langley has the best PK in the circuit, and had proven going in that they could score shorthanded. The Chiefs allowed two shorthanded goals last night, and both were real momentum killers. Nathan Craft scored the first shorty off the rush in the first period – this was on Chilliwack’s opening powerplay of the game when it was still scoreless. Craft took care of that opening goal, and there was some deflation on the home side.

The second shorthanded goal came when it was 3-0 in the second. A bad turnover on a breakout – something that had dogged the Chiefs in their early season struggles – quickly led to a Mitch McLain goal on a point blank chance, and that was pretty much it at 4-0.

Take the special teams battle out of this, and it’s 1-0 Langley. That’s why a proposition like that is hypothetical. If you’re giving up two shorthanded goals, you’re in trouble.

Credit to Langley as well. Aside from special teams, they were better 5 on 5, won a ton of the little battles, and limited the Chiefs offensively, holding them to just 27 shots, and only a handful of quality scoring chances. Remember, this was a Chiefs team that had really found their mojo in the attacking zone. We didn’t see that team Saturday night.

Doesn’t get any easier next weekend – three games in three nights, all against stiff competition in Powell River, Penticton, and Langley again next Sunday.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Two Points In West K: Offense Continues To Roll

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The Chilliwack Chiefs opened up their weekend on a high note, going into Royal LePage Place and defeating the West Kelowna Warriors 6-3 on Friday night. It marked the Chiefs seventh win overall, their fourth win on the road, and for just the second time this season – consecutive victories. The team has also scored 32 goals in their last six games.

Here’s what stood out on Friday night

Spencer Tremblay made his third straight start, and was terrific in this game. The shot count for the Warriors WAS a little inflated (61 registered shots, when there was probably close to 50) but I don’t mean to point that out to take anything away from Tremblay’s performance in any way. He was sound all night, and he made some big saves, too. David Pope was robbed in the second period on a one timer in the slot. Tremblay did well moving post to post to get the right pad on it. I thought that was his biggest. Aside from that, his rebound control and general calm in the crease really stood out. He was especially sound in that first period, when the Warriors had plenty of zone time, but went to the room tied at one.

Chilliwack opened the scoring early in this game, and they scored often once again. That’s 12 in two games. The Chiefs scored three times on the powerplay in this game, winning the special teams battle decisively. Austin Plevy’s two PP goals came on the same three way passing play. Good looks from Gober and Zach Diamontoni to find the Chilliwack captain alone at the side of the goal for two tap-ins.

Plevy is now finding the back of the net with regularity, and it has plenty to do with the development of BCHL rookies Blake Gober, and Diamontoni, no question. There’s that sense of consistency with the top line, now. That’s what this Chiefs team relied on more often than not the last two seasons.

It’s not just the top line, though. When you score 32 in six games, you’re getting contributions from everyone. Kyle Westeringh’s goal to make it 4-2 in the second (and chase Warriors starter Cody Porter) was his third in as many games. Jake Hand added one himself on a nice shot in the second as well.

Officiating on both sides wasn’t very good tonight quite frankly. Warriors coach Rylan Ferster was teed up and tossed after arguing a particularly chintzy call against his team. That led to the 5 on 3 that Plevy would score on to make it 5-3 halfway through the 3rd. Big swing there. The Chiefs by contrast, killed off eight of nine Warrior powerplays, including two in the final seven minutes.

A stretch against some good opponents continues Saturday night at home against the Langley Rivermen. Should be a great divisional matchup. Langley will be feeling good about themselves after a home ice OT win on Friday.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Post-Derailment: Thoughts On A Convincing Win

November 17, 2013 Leave a comment

So, uh…Remember when this team couldn’t score at all at the beginning of the season?

I do. Those lean times offensively might officially be in the rearview mirror now, as this team has suddenly scored 26 times in five games – including 6 on Saturday night – as they ended the weekend on a high note with a victory over division rival Coquitlam. Here’s what stood out for this guy on Saturday:

1. There were a few catalysts for the Chiefs in this game, but I’ll start with Carter Cochrane. He’s been pretty fearless with the puck offensively for a rookie defenseman in this league, and he’s got the potential to put up some big numbers moving forward. His numbers Saturday – 1 goal, 3 assists – began with a 3 on 1 keeper on a powerplay as he beat Pierce Dushenko five hole. That was a big goal at the time as the game was still very much in doubt. Gave the Chiefs a little extra breathing room. His pass to spring Kyle Westeringh on a breakaway for the 5-1 goal at the end of the 2nd was well executed. That was the play that put the game away.

2. Nice finish by Westeringh, who was also credited with the sixth and final goal in this effort. Suddenly the local kid has 3 in his last 2 after going scoreless in his first 22. Speaking of local products, Brock Padgham made his Chiefs debut Saturday in place of Quentin McShane. While Brock didn’t get a ton of ice time (as expected) he made the most of his opportunity playing alongside Shay Laurent. Soupy noted that, as Padgham got some late powerplay time in the third – he wanted the puck. Was calling for it. That’s a good sign. Padgham has appeared in 13 games with the Mission City Outlaws of the PIJHL this season.

3. Spencer Tremblay was steady in goal for the Chiefs, winning his first game in his second consecutive start. He faced a high volume of pucks – Coquitlam got 45 shots on net – but the Chilliwack blueliners did a good job in allowing Tremblay to see the puck, and he tracked it well when there were bodies in front. Rockwood, Mackin, the Piepers – They were kept to the outside for the most part, and didn’t generate very many quality chances at all.

This win was important for the Chiefs. After Harvey Smyl said in the pregame that his team couldn’t keep falling behind early in games, it was nice to see Chilliwack turning the tables for the early jump-out. Eric Roberts got it started with a shot from the point in the first – Just his second career BCHL goal by the way – and Mathieu Tibbet continued his steady play with the second goal, and Austin Plevy continued his torrid pace with another three point night – that’s 12 in his last five games.

Surrey defeated Prince George Saturday, so the gap between the 4th place Eagles and Chilliwack is still six points. Tough test coming up next weekend with a trip to West Kelowna, and a home matchup to follow against the Langley Rivermen.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Stopping Trains: Express Visit Chiefs

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSCoquitlam

Chilliwack Chiefs (5-15-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Coquitlam Express (10-9-0-2, 3rd in Mainland Division) (Saturday, November 16th,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Chilliwack has gone 1-2 in the season series against the division rival Express. Their victory happened in Coquitlam on October 27th, a 4-3 win that saw them come from behind to take two points on the road.

Coquitlam hasn’t lit the world on fire on home ice this season, but they are riding high after scoring four times in the first period en route to a 6-2 triumph over division leader Langley at home Friday. Chilliwack fell short to Victoria after playing well for about 37 of the 60 minutes.

Victoria held a three goal lead for most of that game Friday, and the Grizzlies struck quickly – three goals came in a 2:57 span in the first period. Coquitlam certainly has the capability to do the same – We’ve seen them do it at Prospera Centre earlier in the year – There are plenty of skilled forwards on this Express club, Adam Rockwood, Cory Mackin, Bo and Cannon Pieper, Ryan Rosenthal are all involved and can take advantage of opportunities at any time. Coquitlam was missing Rockwood, their top playmaker, for the last matchup at the end of October. Despite their middle of the pack record in the Mainland, Coquitlam does fill the net – over 4 goals per game. It stands to reason the Chiefs will have their work cut out for them at 5 on 5 as it is. No sense in taking any needless penalties. Even then, that’s a tough proposition with the physical, chippy play a divisional matchup can bring.

As valiant as that comeback effort was for the Chiefs last night, it didn’t really get started in the third until Mathieu Tibbet got on the board with that strong net drive. I know a spark was needed at that point, but you wondered when and if the boys were going to crank it up in that 3rd period. I guess what I’m saying is I’d like to see them play with that sense of urgency a little more often. While they are at the bottom of the division, all they really need to do is stay within striking distance of the Jekyll/Hyde Surrey Eagles to give themselves a chance at the end of the season. (Gap right now between 5th and a playoff spot: 6 points. That’s it. Just hang around, man.)

However, for this team to hang around successfully, they have to go fewer than four, five games between victories. With a stiff test next weekend against West Kelowna on the road, and Langley, it will serve them well going into this week’s practices with a couple points against a divisional opponent.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Grizz Postgame: Quick Hits Following A Loss

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Here’s the nuts and bolts piece I wrote for MyChilliwackNews.com. Read if you wish.

Here’s what stuck out for me following a 4-3 Grizzlies victory at Prospera Centre on Friday night:

1. Victoria’s three goals to open it up in the first period came in a 2:57 span. If you take away that span, along with a pair of long floating wristers that I’m sure new ‘tender Spencer Tremblay would like to have back, the Chiefs are in pretty good shape. They’re also in pretty good shape if Tremblay’s counterpart Alec Dillon wasn’t really good in the 2nd period, denying some quality Chilliwack scoring chances.

The Chiefs also had a couple good ones in the first off the same setup – Diamontoni to Plevy, to Gober in front. Twice. One post, and one nice save from Alec Dillon. He also denied a pair of Mathieu Tibbet net drives in the 2nd period – although he didn’t deny Tibbet on a pair of net drives in the 3rd. More on that in a second.

I know with the Chiefs’ record now (5-15-1-2, officially the worst on the circuit) it’s easy for me to sit here and hit you with ‘Oh, well, if they just did THIS, and if THIS bounces a different way….Maybe they win.”

It’s easy for me to hit you with that. But some nights, it’s true. This was one of those nights. I quite liked the effort in the second period, and the last half of the 3rd. But teams that are young and maybe don’t have as much skill can’t play for 30 minutes. They have to play for 60. And they know that.

2. Kiefer McNaughton coming to Carter Cochrane’s defense, dropping the gloves (or, given he was assesed an instigator, forcing the dropping of the gloves) with Victoria’s Reece Costain. Costain caught Cochrane with a big hit deep in the Chilliwack zone, and it looked like the shoulder came up a little high. While Cochrane turned out to be okay, Kiefer told Soupy after the second period he felt the hit was a little high, so he adhered to THE CODE, MAN. Good scrap, too. Simultaneous right crosses all over the place. That was fun.

3. Nod to Chilliwack’s own Kyle Westeringh on his first career BCHL goal – a rather unsightly scramble in front that gave the Chiefs some life at 3-1 in the second. It’ll look like an end-to-end rush in ten years, though.

4. Former Chief Garrett Forster would score the eventual GWG for the Grizzlies tonight. Forster got some powerplay time in this game, and beat Tremblay with a good shot high to the glove side early in the 3rd. I didn’t even realize until Friday morning that Forster had moved from Surrey to Victoria. He’s played on (by my count) five different teams at two different levels already this season, so that one goal Friday probably had to feel pretty good. Sports are funny sometimes.

5. Getting back to the Chiefs, the last half of the 3rd was inspiring. Mathieu Tibbet led the way, getting it started with a good net drive and finish. While he didn’t score on his next foray, Andrew Silard made the heads up play to follow up and put in the rebound to give the boys a chance with three minutes left.

They even got a couple good looks in the dying moments with Tremblay out for the extra skater. Dillon made a couple good saves on Plevy, and that was all.

Up next is a confident Coquitlam team coming off a big win over Langley Friday. It doesn’t get any easier at home on Saturday night.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Grizz: Quick Hits

November 15, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSVictoria

Chilliwack Chiefs (5-14-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Victoria Grizzlies (12-7-2-1, 2nd in Island Division)(Friday, November 15th,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

– These two have met once before, a 6-2 Grizzlies victory in Victoria on October 20th. The Grizzlies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in that game and never looked back. Bill Bestwick’s club is right behind Powell River for the top spot in the Island Division, and would no doubt like to get a three game Mainland trip off to a good start. Chilliwack recently snapped a five game losing streak with a win over Surrey last Saturday night on home ice, only the second time they’ve sent the fans at Prospera home happy. With two more home games this weekend, the Chiefs are hoping to start something here, and with 17 goals for in 3 games, they’re feeling it offensively for the first time all year.

– While Chilliwack will try to be aggresive at the offensive end, it leaves opportunities for the other team, and with Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald, along with Jesse Schultz, the Grizzlies have some top flight forwards to deal with. Gerry and Myles may be missing their brother Leo, but are cruising along just fine as they lead the team in points. You may not be able to stop those two, but containing them will play a big role in weather or not the Chiefs secure two points.

– Harvey Smyl noted yesterday how active the Victoria defensemen are, and that they would have to make note of that tonight. The back end, like Chilliwack’s, can produce points. Brandon Egli, Jacob Kearley, and Mitch Meek have all reached double figures in points through 22 games.

– As I type this, I’m unsure as to who starts in goal tonight for the Chiefs. Spencer Tremblay joined his new teammates at practice this week, along with Josh Halpenny and Lyndon Stanwood. Halpenny was given the nod for both games last weekend against Surrey. Lyndon Stanwood started that October 20th game in Victoria, but was hooked after three goals allowed through 27 minutes. Regardless of who starts in net, the Chiefs will have to be good from the goaltender on out if they hope to make it consecutive wins for just the second time this season.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

A Couple Three Things: Chiefs Knock Off Eagles

November 10, 2013 Leave a comment

A five game losing skid came to an end for the Chiefs Saturday night at home, as the team put forth a solid effort, defeating Surrey 6-4. Here’s what stuck out for me:

1. Austin Plevy’s on fire. That much we know, but his best play (and there were a few) from Saturday was on the eventual winning goal in the third period: Plevy races to the puck in the left corner of the Surrey zone to negate a whistle, fends off the defenseman in carrying the puck around the net, and throws it in front. That first pass was blocked, so he quickly did so again, finding Zach Diamontoni on the door step for the finish. I filed that sequence into my imaginary PLAYS THAT WIN GAMES folder.

As a line, Plevy, Diamontoni, and Blake Gober look more and more dangerous. Those three connected beautifully on a powerplay that finished with Gober’s third of the year and second in as many nights. It also chased Surrey goaltender Devon Fordyce from the net.

2. THAT OFFENSE, THO!

Hey – remember at the beginning of the year when the fans of this team would wonder if the boys would score a couple goals to give themselves a chance? That’s out the window now, as the team has exploded – 17 goals for in three games. It’s too bad that only one of those games were victories, but as I’ve said, that was due to……

3. DEFENSE!

I mean, the Chiefs weren’t the mid-90’s New Jersey Devils out there or anything, but they were better on this night in their own zone. Surrey’s Renouf brothers, Jonah and Nathan, looked like the freaking Sedin twins on Friday night. On Saturday they were simply the Renoufs. Still dangerous to be sure, but not world beaters. They did make one great play to set up Brett Mulcahy for a goal in the second period, but it came on a powerplay.

Speaking of that Mulcahy powerplay goal, Chilliwack wiped it out in a blink – Jaret Babych off the rush just twenty seconds later for his fourth of the year over the shoulder of Bo Didur. That was big at the time.

Surrey would tie the game in the third period. Nic Pierog made a heck of a play for the Eagles right off the opening faceoff. His shot off the rush went over the net, off the glass, and fell towards the front of the goal, where Pierog – instead of turning to go the corner or something like so many guys would – continued to the net and batted it in out of the air. Kudos to the Chiefs for not giving in after allowing that one 15 seconds into the third. They killed off three consecutive penalties, including a 5 on 3. And while Danton Heinen took advantage of a Chilliwack failure to clear for the tying goal – That simply set the stage for a great play from Plevy for the game winner.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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