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Over 140 Characters: Day After Thoughts

December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

surreypreview

Lil’ late. Better than never though. What I’ll take away from a two win weekend at the hands of the Surrey Eagles. Things that were too big for tweets:

– Spencer Tremblay deserved a star selection Saturday night, and got one Sunday. Deservedly so. He made some big saves at Prospera last night, including a couple of post-to-post beauties with the game still in doubt. Much has been made of the Chiefs defensive struggles this season, but they need their goaltenders to make some saves, too. Tremblay did that. Settled his teammates down, and it led to a couple wins. Boom.

– Chilliwack is now 4-1 against Surrey this season with four more head to head matchups to come. As you well know, the Chiefs are chasing the Eagles for that final playoff spot. Much can change, and a lot needs to happen, but winning the season series would be a tremendous help come March 1st. Just saying. – The number is a little inflated, but 23 goals in three games, all wins. With goaltending to boot. Tough combo to stop.

– Austin Plevy in five games against Surrey this season: Five goals, six assists. The sequence on the 5th goal – a Plevy cross-seam pass to Cooper Rush, with Mathieu Tibbet’s net drive opening up the left circle for Rush to let it go – Pretty.

– Andrew Silard has been named the Fortis Energy Player of the Game six times now. That’s tied for tops in the league, and not an accident by any stretch. Like what he brings.

– Tanner Cochrane’s brought some energy, too. Happy to be back, playing with Austin Plevy and Tibbet, and he’s finding the back of the net – goals in consecutive games, and a four game point streak. Just like he drew it up.

– 10,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army Food Bank raised last night at the game. Good stuff.

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Make It Two In A Row In Surrey

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

The Chiefs began the back half of their season knowing they’d have to start winning some games to make any type of playoff push.

Saturday night was a great start, beating the team they’re chasing in the process, winning in Surrey 5-3. Here’s what I’ll take away:

Gotta hand it to Spencer Tremblay early on. He’s struggled in the last month, some of which hasn’t been his fault, but he made some big saves to calm his teammates. Tremblay certainly earned his first victory since November 22nd in West Kelowna. If not for him, the Chiefs would have emerged from the first period down more than just 1-0.

Give the players in front of Tremblay credit for chipping away while down after one. Jaret Babych got it started with his 2nd goal in as many nights early in the period. Some justice there for the Chiefs, as Austin Plevy hit a post on the game’s first shift.

(In fact, both teams hit three posts apiece tonight. Funny how that works.)

Kurt Black made a nice play on the doorstep 1:46 later, and the Chiefs were on their way after that. Blake Gober’s effort for the third goal was just as nice. He’s got goals in consecutive games, and four against Surrey this season.

Tanner Cochrane threw down with Surrey’s Colton Mackie. It was entertaining. And feisty. Tanner had a big smile on his face skating to the penalty box. He added a goal later as well – one assist shy of the Gordie Howe hat-trick.

Austin Plevy – four games against Surrey this season – 5 goals, 5 assists. That certainly helps.

Also helping was the return of Eric Roberts to the lineup. After going shorthanded on the blueline before Christmas, it was nice to see Roberts back out there. Surrey was limited to 31 shots, and the grade A chances were held to a minimum. A much better defensive effort from Chilliwack tonight.

Odd sequence late in the game – Surrey had the goalie pulled down 5-3 with 90 seconds left. The clock didn’t start for at least 30 seconds after a faceoff – and nobody noticed, except me. After all that – only two seconds came off, meaning the Chiefs probably killed off an extra 40 seconds to ice the game. Sometimes you gotta beat the timekeepers too.

The Chiefs can’t get happy with themselves here. They’ve got to go on a bit of a run if they want to catch the Eagles for that final playoff spot. The gap is 12 right now. It can be down to ten after Sunday as the Eagles hit Prospera for the rubber match. With some frustration spilling over at the buzzer, Sunday should be a good time out at the rink.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Last One Before Christmas: Chiefs V. Smokies

December 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Will we see a post-win salute tonight?

Will we see a post-win salute tonight?

Chilliwack Chiefs (7-26-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Trail Smoke Eaters (7-27-2-1, 6th in Interior Division) (Saturday, December 21st,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

I tweeted some things last night that could be misconstrued as snarky. Not so at all. It’s actually quite factual. This game tonight between Chilliwack and Trail should be fascinating. The desperation should be THICK, man. Consider:

Both teams come in tonight sporting identical eleven game losing streaks.

Both teams let games go on Friday in deflating fashion – Chilliwack allowing five in a span of 8:56 in the second period to seal their fate, while the Smoke Eaters squandered a 3-2 lead in Victoria, allowing 3 unanswered goals in the third in a 5-3 loss.

The goal differential for both clubs is the same – a rather unsightly -68. Chilliwack has scored 13 more goals overall than the Smokies this season, while Trail has allowed 13 fewer than the Chiefs in their 37 games played.

Chilliwack’s home record? 3-13-0-1.

Trail’s road record? That’s right – 3-13-0-1.

Trail’s last road victory? A 5-1 triumph over West Kelowna on November 2nd – You know, the site of the Chiefs last victory back on November 22nd.

Chilliwack’s special teams are respectable – the power play is 8th in the league, and they’re 3rd in the BCHL in power play goals with 32. The penalty kill is currently 11th. That should get you more than seven wins in 36 games, but Chilliwack’s play at 5 on 5 this year simply hasn’t been good enough. Friday was a prime example of that. The first period last night was extremely entertaining with chances at both ends. There was energy in the building, and good jump from the home side. Prince George was a little better from a territorial standpoint, but nothing to scream about.

In the second period, Austin Plevy was stoned by Alex Murray with the game still tied, and then the floodgates opened. Danny Kiraly got it started, and it snowballed from there.

So much of this game is played on momentum when you’re struggling. We’ve seen the Chiefs time and time again this season let things snowball out of control when the game gets away from them for a shift or three. It’s incredibly frustrating, and deflating.

It also doesn’t help that they’re as banged up as they are. Carter Cochrane left the game in the 2nd after taking a puck up high and went to the ER. No word yet on how long he’ll be out, but that’s three regulars on the blueline unable to help the group in the short term. When it rains, it pours. Jake Hand played D in the 3rd last night, and I’m sure we’ll see more of that tonight.

I’m hopeful about tonight. Two points up for grabs between two eerily similar clubs.

Merry Christmas, guys. All the best.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Three In A Row: Spruce Kings Visit

December 20, 2013 Leave a comment

ChfVSPrincegeorge

Chilliwack Chiefs (7-25-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Prince George Spruce Kings (20-11-2-2, 2nd in Mainland Division) (Friday, December 20th,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Two games to go before Christmas, starting tonight at home against the same Prince George club that took two earlier this week. The Spruce Kings have won four of the five in the season series this year, and won the only other matchup at Prospera Centre – 2-1 back in September.

Tanner Cochrane is back in the fold with the Chiefs, and skated on a line with Austin Plevy and Mathieu Tibbet. Cochrane played a few games in the KIJHL before returning. His younger brother Carter should be back tonight as well, but the Chiefs are still shorthanded on the blueline without Eric Roberts and Cody Bardock.

Chilliwack’s dropped ten straight, while the Spruce Kings are in the midst of a trip that saw them lose to Surrey 5-3 on Thursday night.

Credit to the Chiefs for manning up on Monday night against Prince George. This team was under-manned, and under the weather. They gave the Spruce Kings a game before running out of gas and losing 8-5.

Chilliwack led early in that game. Nice to see them play with a little confidence early on thanks to goals two minutes apart from Kyle Westeringh and Blake Gober. Gober’s fifth came on a powerplay, a good redirect in front of the net.

Prince George answered right back on a goal by Justin Rai, who was on fire over the course of the two nights. He was one of two Spruce Kings to finish with four points on the night (along with Bryant Christian)

Mathieu Tibbet answering back for the Chiefs to make it 3-1 just nine seconds later. Junior hockey, man.

Shorhanded goals allowed has been an issue, and a frustrating one for the Chiefs over the last month, and during the streak. Christian’s fine tip in off a Lebrun centering pass cut it to 3-2, and the Kings would take the lead after one period, leading to Spencer Tremblay’s exit. I’m not sure you could fault him for any of the four, but it was Josh Halpenny’s turn.

-Halpenny played well in the second. He settled in quickly, even making a few highlight reel saves. Tough spot to come in, especially given the Chiefs played with just five defensemen, including two AP’s – Josh Cronin, and Brock Padgham – who handled their business well, mind you – getting back to the whole ‘undermanned’ thing.

There were a couple fights – Epp and Kyle Westeringh threw down, and Cooper Rush answered the bell in the first period after throwing a big hit on Brent Lashuk. The first period had literally everything, the second was a little quiet, and the third was a bit of a wash, at least when the Spruce Kings scored three unanswered to put the game away after Kiefer McNaughton cut the deficit to 5-4.

Chilliwack will have to be weary of the Chad Staley’s, Jake Lebrun’s, Bryant Christian’s, and Justin Rai’s of the world, but (Here it comes!) if they play like they did Monday for longer stretches, they’ll  get this ten game slide licked, and take something with them into tomorrow night against Trail.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Streak Hits Nine In Prince George

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

pgchilliwack

The winless December continued Sunday night in Prince George, as the Chiefs fell by a count of 4-1 at the Coliseum. The loss is Chilliwack’s ninth in a row, and they are now 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Mainland Division.

It was an opening period that hurt the Chiefs in this one. Prince George outshot Chilliwack 21-7, and outscored them 3-0. The first two goals hurt the most – A misplay and miscomunication between Spencer Tremblay and his defensemen that led to a Justin Rai tap-in. The second was a shorthanded 3 on 2 rush for Prince George – Brent Lashuk finished it off for the 2-0 lead. It was the sixth shorthanded goal given up by the team in just over a month. Jake Lebrun added another on a tip in front before the period was out, and the Chiefs were swimming uphill the rest of the night.

The boys dug that hole for themselves because they didn’t seem to have their legs to begin the game. Long travel day, and some of the guys are under the weather, but you still have to go out there and play. Take away the first period, and the game is a little more even.

Chilliwack had their chances in this game – some good ones even – but Alex Murray made saves when he had to. Gotta bear down.

Some chippiness in this one – and a chipped tooth for Carter Cochrane after Braiden Epp caught him with a cross check behind the net in the third period. There were a couple slashes exchanged beforehand, followed by the crosscheck – which was a little on the dirty side – and then the two fought – some haymakers in there.

Pretty clear what needs to happen on Monday – A better first period. More like the one on Friday against Penticton.

 

 

 

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs Burned By Vees Power Play In 2nd; Drop 8th Straight

December 14, 2013 Leave a comment
Jake Hand's 2nd period goal set off the bears in a 6-3 loss

Jake Hand’s 2nd period goal set off the bears in a 6-3 loss

I’ll keep this pretty clean: It was a ton of fun for the first half of the hockey game Friday night. The Chiefs outplayed Penticton in the opening period. They outshot the Vees 18-10. They had jump. Fire. Passion. Energy. It’s a shame they went to the dressing room down 1-0 after 20 minutes.

We’ve heard stuff like that before this season, haven’t we?

Again, similar things with the boys on Friday at Prospera in a 6-3 loss to the Interior leading Vees. Another inspired little comeback – this time from 2-0 down in the 2nd. Jake Hand and Carter Cochrane scored 48 seconds apart in the period after Olivier Mantha was really solid in the opening frame. Cochrane beat Mantha with a deke to the forehand on a semi-breakaway to tie the game at two. Cochrane’s 12th goal has him 2nd on the team behind Austin Plevy – who was stopped on a breakaway by Mantha in the first period. If Mantha doesn’t make that save, maybe it doesn’t change the end result, but it would have changed the tenor early on.

Maybe. Possibly. Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda. If they just…

(I’m getting tired of writing that stuff. It’ll turn, baby. Eventually.)

Chilliwack got into some penalty trouble after the Cochrane goal, and the Vees took advantage with their league-best powerplay. Dalpe. Steen Cooper. 60 seconds apart. Boom. Deflation. The two teams would trade goals before the night was out, but that was the killer – 4-2 in a blink after a raucous comeback.

Got a look at some AP’s tonight for Chilliwack – Dennis Cholowski looked pretty good for 15 years old. The kid could probably play D with a cigarette in his mouth he’s so calm. You could see that right away. Made some smart plays, didn’t try to do too much, which is pretty much the gameplan for a kid in that situation. Josh Cronin held his own as well, threw a big hit early to get himself into it, but he did get walked by Jack Ramsey on Penticton’s 2nd goal. (Sorry for the single-out there, Josh. Chin up.)

Ben Dalpe was a star in this game, and he looked like the best Penticton forward to me. Brett Beauvais was tossed for a hit from behind in the 2nd period, and the Vees were able to grind it out with just five defenseman after that. Paul Stoykowich played a ton. Seemed like he was out there the entire game. Mantha was great the first period, setting the tone while his mates were getting outplayed.

If the Chiefs can (here it is again) start like that in Prince George on Sunday night, and carry through for three periods, they’ll snap this eight game skid. No question.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

All In For One: Vees Visit on Teddy Bear Toss Night

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment

As you may have heard, the Chiefs are playing just one game this weekend now. The two games scheduled for Prince George Saturday and Sunday were postponed Thursday night due to an incredible amount of snow (even for up there) and some civic labour unrest – The City of Prince George is going on strike Saturday night, and with no employees to make things run smoothly at the Prince George Coliseum, I can only assume things would have escalated quickly into COMPLETE ANARCHY.

…Maybe not.

But just one game now, and it’s BIG, man. Penticton’s here. Always meaningful. And it’s Teddy Bear/Toque Toss Night! So without further ado:

ChfVSpenticton

Chilliwack Chiefs (7-22-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Penticton Vees (21-7-1-3, 1st in Interior Division) (Friday, December 13th,  Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Losing stinks. It’s no fun. It’s unfortunate the Chiefs have been doing that lately, to the tune of seven in a row. The players have the advantage over me, though. They can do something about it. I can only talk about it like the critic I am. Harvey Smyl mentioned to me yesterday that it’s about the positives you can take out of losses during a stretch like this, and applying it to the next time out.

Throughout the year, the Chiefs have always put together stretches where you say to yourself – ‘Man, if they could just do this for sixty, or even 55, they would be in a better spot right now.’ – Case in point: Down 3-0 to the Vees on November 30th in a building where just about nobody wins ever, the boys erased that 3-0 lead in the 2nd period. There was fire. There was passion. There was energy. It was an inspiring stretch of hockey.  Then Vees Captain Brad McClure did Brad McClure things and that was it.

Penticton put up nine the last time out against them, so it stands to reason the Chiefs must be more physical with their opponent tonight. Also, as boring as it sounds, (pardon the pun on Teddy Bear Toss Night) Chilliwack needs to bear down offensively. The goals have dried up over the last little bit, which means you’re going to be working that much harder for your chances. When the chances come, they need to be buried.

The Chiefs will have some new faces in the lineup tonight: On D,  Josh Cronin (’95 – 20 points in 26 games with the PIJHL’s Aldergrove Kodiaks) will make an appearance on the blueline tonight, along with Dennis Cholowski. (Prince George Cougars draft pick, 15 (!) years old)

Up front, Kohen Olischefski will get some time. (Abbotsford product, Captain of his bantam team, also just 15 years old)

The Other Guys: The Vees come in here rollin’, winners of five straight, and it was against the Chiefs a couple weeks ago when they began that roll. 14 players finished with at least a point thanks to the nine spot they put up that night. This also begins a three game weekend set for the Vees – they’ll head to the Island tomorrow.

Penticton Captain Brad McClure is certainly at the top of the ‘Player To Watch’ list on this side. McClure sits four points (48) back of Salmon Arm’s Landon Smith for the league lead in that category, and just one goal (26) behind Smith as well. McClure is known for his timely scoring, bagging the go-ahead goal back on November 30th after the Chiefs had come back from 3-0 down to tie that game in the 2nd period. He finished with two that night.

But it’s not just McClure. Ben Dalpe is working on a seven game point streak. Brett Beauvais has given Penticton a ton from the blueline, with an astounding 34 assists and 42 points. Even the recently acquired Steen Cooper has fit right in, with four points in four games as a Vee. This team boasts plenty of speed, skill, and toughness. And they’re certainly playing like a group that exhibits all those things on a nightly basis.

For what it’s worth, the seven-win Smoke Eaters played the Vees tough on Wednesday night in Penticton. With only one game on the docket for this weekend, it’s up to the Chiefs to make this one count.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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