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Chiefs In Surrey Friday

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

surreypreview

Chilliwack Chiefs (10-31-2-4, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Surrey Eagles (20-26-1-1, 4th in Mainland Division) (Friday, January 31st, South Surrey Arena –  6:30 pregame/7:00 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

The Chilliwack Chiefs have been playing with no room for error since the beginning of January, so their preparation and mindset shouldn’t change too much going into this weekend’s home and home with the Surrey Eagles.

Friday’s game at the South Surrey Arena kicks off a season-defining weekend for both teams. The Eagles aren’t far at all from clinching the final playoff spot in the mainland division – their magic number is three, as they hold a 16 point lead with ten games remaining, including four more against the Chiefs.

There’s positives for Chilliwack going into the weekend, however. The energy level, compete level, and buy-in for a re-adjusted roster post-deadline has been better in the last three weeks. It’s a shame Chilliwack hasn’t been able to come up with a full two points in the last four efforts- They’ve secured at least a point in the last two to stay afloat. Those last two games have also seen eleven goals for, including seven in that wild tie with the West Kelowna Warriors on Sunday.

Both teams have gotten offensive at the SSA already this season – there was a game won 7-6 by Surrey earlier in the year over Chilliwack. That Eagle victory is the only one they’ve managed against their rivals – Chilliwack is an impressive 4-1 against Surrey this year despite the 10 wins overall.

The Eagles already have a game under their belts this week – they got off to a very fast start in a 5-2 victory over the Coquitlam Express, a game in which they scored three times in the first period. The Chiefs haven’t faced Surrey post-deadline, so Nathan and Jonah Renouf, along with Braeden Russell will be the players Chilliwack will have to hone in on.

Tanner Cochrane is coming off a hat-trick Sunday, and Jake Hand/Kyle Westeringh both played one of their best games against the Warriors. It may come down to the last shot on Friday, and for the sake of the Chiefs slim postseason hopes, hopefully it’s their shot.



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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs, Warriors Go Nuts For A Tie

January 27, 2014 Leave a comment
Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo.

Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo.

That was something, wasn’t it?

Fourteen goals. Seven each. One player on either side with a hat-trick. An overtime penalty shot. Two goals to tie in the final minute with the goaltender out. An extremely entertaining game that still…kinda…felt like a loss for the Chiefs on Sunday. All you can do after that one is shake your head.

– You can look at it two ways: The Chiefs were dead in the water trailing 5-2 early in the second period. We’ve seen this team fall behind big in games earlier in the year. On many of those occasions, they stayed behind. Not tonight.

Five unanswered goals to take a 7-5 lead, spearheaded by Tanner Cochrane and Jake Hand, who were both great in this game with six points between them. Tanner had a hat-trick, the third one the most dramatic that put the Chiefs up 6-5. Hand added insurance on a chance in alone – great setup from Andrew Silard on that play- and it was 7-5 with 2:27 left.

Enter David Pope.

Pope, if you can belive it, has done this once before with the Dubs this season, scoring twice with the goalie out to tie the game in the final minute. He did so on Sunday, scoring two goals in 47 seconds to tie the game at 7 and force overtime. Pope scored his first goal on the first shift of the game, a play all but forgotten by the time OT rolled around. Great night for Pope with the four points, and Carl Hesler, Jason Cotton, Adam Plant, Ben Teghtmeyer – all beasts, those guys. Good team over there.

Pope was involved heavily in overtime, as was Chilliwack’s Josh Halpenny, who did not start. He came on in relief of Spencer Tremblay at 5-2 and was terrific. The Chiefs were outshot heavily again in this game, and although they couldn’t secure the two points, Halpenny’s penalty shot save (Oh, that’s right, there was a freaking overtime penalty shot in this game, too.) on David Pope preserved the tie. West K outshot Chilliwack 11-4 in the two OT’s. That’s Halpenny, right there. He made some other biggies late in the game, too.

– Had to run some stuff down to the bench for Soupy before the game. Saw Jordan Kawaguchi taping his stick on the bench. I said to him that he’d get a couple. He got one on a great setup from Jake Hand for the team’s first goal, and his first goal in 28 games. Made me look pretty smart there. He’s been buzzing lately. Getting an opportunity, and going to the right spots.

– Mathieu Tibbet had the best overtime chance for Chilliwack, going through the entire Warrior roster before Cody Porter got a piece of his shot. Had Tibbet scored there, my head would have exploded, and I would have been dead.

– Silard, Gober, Westeringh – energy and confidence, man. It’s an amazing thing. I think Westeringh’s in the midst of his best stretch as a Chief. And Gober continues to play with a real edge. Pretty goal too, to get the comeback started in the second period.

– Shout out to Cam Campbell for his work on the broadcast tonight. I was (and am) significantly under the weather. He kept my game up. Gotta rely on your linemates sometimes.

You can say they blew a two goal lead in the final minute. You can say they ripped off five straight to take the lead, setting themselves up for points against the hottest team in the league.

The compete level has been better. The buy-in has been better. Harvey Smyl said so himself before the game.

With that in mind…

On to Surrey.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

The 140: OT Heartbreak In Langley

January 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Photo: Darren Francis

Photo: Darren Francis

As I tweeted when the game ended, this game was fun, particularly the last five minutes. Here’s some thoughts that were too big for tweets following a 5-4 Rivermen victory in OT:

– Funny how the Chiefs penalty kill let them down early in this game, allowing three Rivermen goals, including markers on the first two opportunities – and then it was the penalty kill that came up big in killing one off with two minutes left in the third, securing a point. Also like that the boys got a tying goal from Zach Diamontoni in the third. Chilliwack’s record when trailing after two this season coming in was 1-27 or something awful. They were down after two on Friday. Point secured thanks to Diamontoni, the PK, and Spencer Tremblay late.

– A shame they couldn’t get a shot in overtime before James Robinson ended it 37 seconds in. It was back and forth a little there in the third. Entertaining stuff. Both teams battled in this one, no question.

– Austin Azurdia had a great game on the Langley side with four points, a few dangerous plays around the goal, and a fight with Tanner Cochrane in which he held his own very well. One of two Rivermen forwards with four points – he and James Robinson, an Oiler draft pick this past spring.

– Powerplay continues to struggle for the Chiefs. 1 for their last 22. We can talk about puck movement around the outside forever – ya gotta put the puck in. Diamontoni’s goal came shortly after a power play expired, for the record.

– Speaking of Zach D – nice to see him shoot the puck a little more on Friday.

– Nice shot from Jake Hand on the Chiefs’ third goal, as well as a nice rush from Andrew Silard down the right wing on the first one.

– Langley did this tonight without their leading goal scorer in Matt Ustaski, and Evan Anderson. Plenty of depth for this team. Mitch McLain had a big part in the win, along with Jakob Riechert, Azurdia, and Robinson. This team will be a tough out come playoff time, particularly with Zach Urban leading the way on the blueline.

Fun game. Entertaining. Back and forth. But it still kind of felt like a loss. Which is a shame. Back at it Sunday night against a very good West Kelowna Warriors team.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Chiefs/Riv’ Again

January 24, 2014 Leave a comment

ChfVSLangley

Chilliwack Chiefs (10-31-1-3, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Langley Rivermen (28-12-1-5, 1st in Mainland Division) (Friday, January 24th, Langley Events Centre –  6:45 pregame/7:15 pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

I’ll make this quick, because these two teams have faced each other (what seems like) 27 times in the last three weeks:

– Langley’s good. They’ve won six of seven, and one of the reasons they’re good is the depth they boast. Only one of their forwards is over the 20 goal mark – Matt Ustaski, although Mitch McLain has 19 – and with Will Cook, Jakob Reichert, Austin Azurdia, James Robinson all in double figures goal-wise, the Chiefs will have to be at their best defensively. They were quite good in their own end last Friday in Coquitlam, playing the Express to a standstill before giving up the winning goal with three minutes left because this team has 10 wins in 45 games. It starts in Chilliwack’s zone tonight. It can’t stay there, either. Gotta limit that Langley zone time.

Bob Freid photo

Bob Frid photo

As this photo of Tanner Cochrane and Mitch McLain would indicate, these teams don’t like each other all that much. When you face one another all the time (it seems) you’ll develop a healthy dislike. Even if the Rivermen are biding their time until the postseason while the Chiefs try everything to keep ‘mathematically eliminated’ away from their 2013 obituary, it should be a physical, chippy, spirited affair. Should it lead to penalties, and it probably will, Chilliwack’s power play needs to get going as well – 1 for their last 16, including an 0 for 6 the last time these two teams met on January 11th.

The Chiefs have only taken one game in the season series between the two, but it was at the LEC back in October. The numbers are against them here, but it won’t lack some feel. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

The 140: Express Sweep Home & Home

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment
Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo.

Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo.

I don’t really have much after this one, to be honest.

I’ll start by saying #ILikedTheEffort. (I’m hashtagging it, because it’s been written here many times before.)

There’s one nagging thought in my brain, even after I specifically took time before writing something to cool down. I’ll put it like this, and it’s the one thing you, the fan, can take away:

– When a team struggles as this one has, there’s little things that can show themselves at key times. No matter how many times it’s harped on by the coaches, players, me…whoever.

Execution.

Chilliwack cut Coquitlam’s lead down to one goal twice in the third period. The second time it happened – off a nice pass from Tanner Cochrane to Mathieu Tibbet for the Chiefs’ lone powerplay goal to make it 4-3 (a call I butchered by the way. Said initially that Kiefer McNaughton made that pass. Sorry, Tanner. Good look there.) – the Chiefs were gift-wrapped a powerplay with 2:17 left. Down by a goal. A powerplay for essentially the rest of the game. A great chance to tie it up, salvage a point, and give the fans one last little flurry around the Coquitlam goal. A team trying to do everything it can to earn points – suddenly had been handed a golden opportunity to earn at least one, and maybe halt a five game losing streak.

They didn’t get a shot on that powerplay before Coquitlam’s Cannon Pieper got one first.

Saucer pass (usually frowned upon in that situation) back to the blueline, and a tough play for Kiefer McNaughton at the right point to keep it onside, especially with Joey Santucci of Coquitlam right in his kitchen. Puck gets out. Pieper takes off, Santucci hits him with the pass. Partial breakaway as Carter Cochrane races back. Pieper goes five hole on Josh Halpenny. Ballgame. It took 19 seconds. A golden opportunity to tie turns into a 5-3 deficit before they can get a shot at 5 on 4.

I used the term ‘soulcrushing’ on the air as it happened. I did not feel it was hyperbole, because that’s what it felt like. They were ALIVE late in this one, man. They had battled to get to that point. They had earned the right for a chance to tie the game in dramatic fashion late…and then…Poof. Execution. Execution. Execution. Execution. Little things.

– The Piepers are pretty good.

That’s all.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

140 Review: Good Road Effort Falls Short

January 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Mathieu Tibbet and Coquitlam's Cody Boyd battle it out during the Express' 4-2 victory. Photo: Darren Francis

Mathieu Tibbet and Coquitlam’s Cody Boyd battle it out during the Express’ 4-2 victory. Photo: Darren Francis

Coquitlam pulled it out Friday night on a late goal by Nic Rasovic. 4-2 was the final over the Chiefs. As always, here are some thoughts that were just too big for tweets:

– Nic Rasovic scored the game winner with under three minutes remaining when the Chiefs couldn’t clear the zone. Rasovic somehow got behind everyone and put a good move on Halpenny for the finish. Worse was when I looked at the stat sheet and saw that it was Rasovic’s third goal of the season. All that high end skill in Coquitlam, and the Chiefs are done in by the Coquitlam fourth line, who did bring quite a bit to the table overall in this game, but still. That stings.

– Chilliwack wanted to focus on playing in their own end, and for the most part I thought they did a very good job. Coquitlam was without one of their snipers as Ryan Rosenthal was a last minute scratch, and the Pieper boys had their moments, but I thought the Chiefs were sturdy in their own zone, and Halpenny made saves when he had to. It was the type of bend-a-little-but-don’t-break performance you like to see on the road. Makes you wonder where this team would be if they had a few more of those away from home this season.

– Trademark Mathieu Tibbet goal in the second period. See puck. Chip past defenseman at own blueline. Outrace defenseman to the net. Go wide on the deke across crease. Tuck it in. This is what he does. Tibbet now leads the team with 17 goals on the year.

– Carter Cochrane got his first in nine games as well on a similar play down the opposite wing. Andrew Silard had a couple good chances tonight, and I really liked what the line of Kawaguchi, Mason Boh, and Kurt Black accomplished. Lots of sandpaper on the forecheck, and they maintained pressure down low for a couple stretches. Thought Blake Gober had another determined effort as well. Things to like.

– The Chiefs were really physical Friday. Daniel Delbianco on Cannon Pieper. Jake Hand on Brendan Lamont. Tanner Cochrane on Cam Marks. Three pretty big hits right there. Lamont would go down later on a knee on knee hit from Cody Bardock. Bardock would unfortunatley recieve a five/game misconduct. Tough call to make, as there were other bodies in the area as well. Possibly a little incidental contact, but the Chiefs had to go with 5 D the rest of the way after that.

– Bo and Cannon Pieper. Took some bumps, but always looked dangerous.

– Both teams will be thinking about special teams going into Saturday’s game. Chilliwack went 0 for 6 and couldn’t cash on a four minute powerplay in the 2nd, while the Express didn’t convert on any of their chances either.

I like the Chiefs Saturday night if they can play that way again. With a little more finish maybe, too:)

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Home & Home Again: Chiefs In Coquitlam

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

ChfVSCoquitlam

Chilliwack Chiefs (10-29-1-3, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Coquitlam Express (19-18-1-3, 3rd in Mainland Division) (Friday, January 17th, Poirier Sports & Leisure Complex –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Tonight marks the first of four meetings between the two divison rivals in the season’s final six weeks. Chilliwack and Coquitlam have split the season series thus far (2-2) with both teams earning a split in the other’s building. Chilliwack defeated the Express 4-3 in Coquitlam back on October 27th.

You know the challenge for the Chiefs by now – just win games. The team is still not out of it for the final playoff spot in the division, sitting 12 points back of the Eagles (who, like the Chiefs, have done some selling at the deadline, and have lost four games in a row) but they must begin to help their own cause.

Coquitlam has a firm six point hold on the third playoff spot, and are coming off a 7-3 victory over Surrey on home ice Wednesday night. Coquitlam has been oddly pedestrian at home this season, sitting two games under .500.

This game may be a tale of two offenses: Chilliwack’s has dried up the last couple weeks, as they’ve been shut out in two of their last three. Their only output from last week was two in a loss to Langley. Generating second and third chances has been the sticking point for the Chiefs in the offensive end, and they can draw on past success against this Express team – a six spot the last time out in a lopsided victory.

There should be some open ice in this game, as Barry Wolf’s club is not afraid to push the pace. The Express boast plenty of skill upfront, including three 20 plus goal scorers – Ryan Rosenthal, Cannon Pieper, and Corey Mackin. Two more are on the verge of that plateau in Joey Santucci and Bo Pieper, and you can’t forget about Adam Rockwood, one of the premier playmakers in the league with 46 assists.

The Chiefs will have to be stiff defensively. They’ll need to committ to that, and not let the Express turn the game into a track meet, as tempting as it might be to trade chances and odd-man rushes all night. These post-deadline Chiefs look a little different now, so it will serve them better to get a little greasy on the road en route to their first win in the calendar year.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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