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Preview: Chiefs Visit Powell River

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Chilliwack Chiefs (7-19-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Powell River Kings (21-5-1-1, 1st in Island Division) (Friday, December 6th,  Hap Parker Arena –  7pm pregame/7:30 faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

A tough task for the Chiefs kicks off on Friday night in Powell River (7pm pregame/7:30 faceoff on 89.5 The Drive) against the Kings.

The Kings boast the League’s best record, and are very good on home ice, the Hap Parker Memorial Arena, a notoriously tough place to play. A large portion of Powell River’s schedule has been played at home already, and they’ve played well there, going 13-4-1 in 18 games.

Chilliwack has been a better team on the road this season than at home, going 4-8-1-1, but will be in tough against a team they’ve already seen twice.  The Kings took both of those games at Prospera by scores of 6-1, and 8-5.

One troublesome stat for the Chiefs to consider are the number of shorthanded goals they’ve given up: four in the last four games, including a shorthanded breakaway by Powell River’s Drew Dorantes that keyed the Kings’ comeback in that 8-5 game a week ago.

“That comes down to a little bit of both (execution and luck)” Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl said after practice on Thursday.

“We need to make sure we’re making those tape to tape passes, and be more aware of a team’s aggressive PK or forecheck, whatever the case may be. ”

Biggest thing for the Chiefs defensively is being cognizant of the Kings’ top two lines, who can both score. It’s one of the reasons why they’re the best team in the League entering Friday’s play. It also seems like a good rule of thumb at the Junior A level – You can be competitive with a top line that can score consistently, but you can be very good if you have more than one, which the Kings do.

Another key is goaltending. Chilliwack put up a five spot at Prospera Centre last Friday night, as Jonah Imoo, the veteran starter for the Kings, was yanked after one period. Rookie Jeff Smith came in and allowed two more, blowing his low GAA out of the water in the process. Point being, it’s hard to expect something like that again, so the Chiefs will have to bear down on the opportunities they do get to be successful.

Starting this trip in Powell River isn’t easy, and it will be a heck of a battle, but it helps to get these type of long trips off to a good start. As Harvey Smyl pointed out to me yesterday, it’s not even three games in three days – it’s more like three in two and a half. I think it will serve the Chiefs well not to fall behind the 8 ball early, and revert back to ‘salvage’ mode come Sunday in Alberni Valley. I’m not calling tonight a must win or anything, but there needs to be a better showing from the previous weekend.

Chilliwack will be in Nanaimo Saturday night, followed by a 2pm game Sunday in Port Alberni.



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Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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