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Back To The Ice: Chiefs In Langley

January 10, 2014 Leave a comment

 

ChfVSLangley

Chilliwack Chiefs (10-27-1-3, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Langley Rivermen (25-12-1-4, 1st in Mainland Division) (Friday, January 10th, Langley Events Centre –  6:45 pregame/7:15pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Busy week, huh?

The Chiefs get back at things on the ice tonight against the Rivermen – There’s four more meetings between the two between now and the end of the year on March 1st, and two of them go down this weekend.

Chilliwack had a four game point streak come to an end at home Sunday to Prince George, and their lineup will look a bit different this weekend, obviously. We’ll get a look at Mason Boh, acquired in the Austin Plevy deal, and another look at Daniel Delbianco, who was signed from Port Moody Jr. B after a good showing in that Prince George game last week. That move was made after the trade of Shay Laurent to the Nanaimo Clippers. Caleb Thompson, acquired in the Cooper Rush trade, plays his second game as a Chief as well.

Langley used the win at Prospera Centre last Friday as a springboard to a three game winning streak after dropping a couple games post-Christmas. They’re the best team in the division, and they looked it last week – while the Chiefs earned a point in that game, it had plenty to do with the play of Spencer Tremblay, who faced a ton of pucks. Most of that game was spent in Chilliwack’s end of the rink, and that will have to be different tonight for the new-look Chiefs to win at the LEC.

Rivermen forward Matt Ustaski is coming off a BCHL Player Of The Week nod – he scored the overtime winner in Chilliwack last week – part of a six point in three game performance. Ustaski is part of a talented group – James Robinson, Jakob Riechert, Austin Azurdia, Will Cook, Mitch McLain – that’s a tough matchup for any team in the league. Those forwards all played a big part in last week’s game. The Chiefs have to limit their time in the offensive zone, as simple as that sounds, because the Riv’ had far too much of it last week for anyone’s comfort on the Chilliwack side.

Getting back to the Chiefs’ side of things, while the results with Austin Plevy in the lineup weren’t there this season, it’s still 18 goals and 46 points to replace in the final 17 games for this team. Simply put, it’s time for other guys to up their production – Mathieu Tibbet could be at the forefront of that with eight goals in his last six including a hattrick last Friday night. Zach Diamontoni, Blake Gober, Jake Hand – three guys looked upon to produce at the start of the season – have to do what they can to find the back of the net. Mason Boh comes over as a player that maybe didn’t get the opportunities in Brooks – he’ll get an opportunity here.

With the movement of Plevy and Laurent, there were a couple of changes to the leadership group as a result. Tanner Cochrane was named new team Captain last night, while three year vet Mathieu Tibbet will now wear an ‘A’.

It’s a wait and see approach with this new look Chiefs group, but tonight’s game, and the weekend set should be fantastic. There was plenty of bad blood, chippiness, and gamesmanship from either side last week, and I expect nothing less tonight. The club that stays more disciplined should have the edge, and don’t forget – Chilliwack went 2/3 on the powerplay last week after going 2 for their previous 27 against Langley this year.

FYI: The Chiefs are eleven points out of the final playoff spot behind Surrey – The Eagles are in Prince George for a weekend set with the Spruce Kings.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

140 Or More: Chiefs Get Blanked/Rush Traded

January 6, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m trying to think of a word better than ‘interesting’ to describe Sunday, because using the word ‘interesting’ seems lazy to me.

Sunday was…unusual. Here’s some thoughts that were too big for tweets:

– The Chiefs announced three hours before the game that Cooper Rush had been traded to….that night’s opponent, the Spruce Kings, for fellow defenseman Caleb Thompson. All the legalities/approvals were made, and the two players made their debuts for their new clubs against one another three hours later. Not something that happens very often, obviously.

-Rush was a little late to join his new mates for the warmup before the game, and it was funny, because I was looking down towards the ice to see what number he’d wear, Cam was down at ice level waiting for him to emerge with his new colours, and even some of the Chiefs were mulled around centre ice looking down at the other end for a moment, waiting for their now ex-teammate to come strolling out, which he eventually did wearing the number 4. The whole thing reminded me of this:

 

As far as Cooper is concerned, he gets a fresh start with a team competing for a division title, and Caleb Thompson gets more of a role here than he had in Prince George. And I’ll say this for Caleb: He looked pretty good out there tonight. Got some pucks through, made some good plays, and was all-around steady. Good to see.

Rush actually left the game in the second period with an injury and didn’t return.

– NOW, it was unfortunate the Chiefs weren’t able to take advantage of a tired Prince George group on Sunday. The Spruce Kings had come over from Alberni Valley the night before, where they had lost 5-2 to the ‘Dogs, a game that followed a loss in Powell River the night before. Chilliwack had the night off Saturday, and should have (you would think) jumped on the Spruce Kings right away.

– Instead, the Spruce Kings did the jumping. A turnover led to a Justin Rai point blank chance and goal 16 seconds in, and Brent Lashuk followed with one ten seconds later off the ensuing faceoff. Two goals against, and the game was 26 seconds old. Suddenly Josh Halpenny was coming in for Spencer Tremblay.

…The hell just happened? I thought. I nearly missed the second goal. Nutty start, and an awful one from a Chilliwack standpoint.

– Josh Halpenny played a shade under 60 minutes of ‘relief’ hockey in this one, and was a bright spot in his first action since December 21st. Prince George outshot the Chiefs 40-22 after taking the early 2-0 lead, and would only add one more: a redirect by Bryant Christian in the 2nd period. Halpenny earned a star selection.

– Credit the Spruce Kings at the end of a long road trip. They got their lead early, and really slowed down the pace after that. This game was a snoozer, and that was just fine with the Spruce Kings. There were two or three good chances for the Chiefs in this game, but not enough to get back in it. They were outshot 21-4 in the third period.

– Daniel Delbianco made his Chiefs debut on the blueline as an AP. Austin Plevy was a late scratch in this one as well. Langley is the opponent next weekend, with a home and home series beginning Friday at the LEC.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

140 Or More: Chiefs/Riv’ Thoughts That Were Too Big For Tweets

January 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Langley beat the Chiefs in overtime Friday night at Prospera, 4-3. Here’s what stuck out on an eventful night:

1. These two will meet four more times before the regular season is out, and that’s just fine with me. Lots of chippiness, bad blood, some chirping between the benches, a questionable hit or two – I’ll start there. Tanner Cochrane caught Jackson Waniek with an open ice hit in the second period with the game tied, and while it seemed okay at regular speed, it looked a bit high on the replay. Cochrane got an extra two and a ten for the argument that followed. No matter, as the Chiefs did great work to kill off the four minute powerplay, which in turn led to the Plevy-Tibbet hookup for the go-ahead marker with three seconds left in the period. Blake Gober took a game misconduct penalty late in the third, knocking Austin Azurdia from behind into the boards along the Chilliwack bench. Gober was tossed, and Azurdia smiled and winked at the Chiefs bench once he was up to one knee. Plenty of that stuff tonight, including some chirping back and forth between the two benches, particularly early in the third. Mitch McLain seemed to be in the midst of most of it, having words with a couple Chiefs.

Four more games with these two teams. It’s gonna be a zoo! And that’s fine with me.

2. Tanner Cochrane was also involved in an interesting sequence in the first period. It appeared initially that he and Mitch McLain were dropping the gloves. After a second or two, it was clear that Cochrane had not dropped his gloves, and in turn had no interest in going, as it would have been his second fight this year. Six fights means a one game suspension. Problem is, the linesman didn’t step in to seperate them. Shouldn’t have gone down that way, as McLain got in a few good shots before it ended. He ended up with the extra two.

3. As far as the actual game, give Langley credit. They were the better team tonight, and carried the play for long stretches. Chilliwack spent too much time in their own zone Friday. They would have been in a hole through 20 minutes if not for the play of Spencer Tremblay, who’s in the midst of his best stretch as a Chief.

4. The officials weren’t good tonight. On either side. Lordy. And you know me. I don’t rip officials because it’s tacky, but they had a tough day at the office Friday. Not good enough in a heated division game like this one. Stiffen up, fellas.

5. Mathieu Tibbet has eight goals in four games. That’s okay, I guess. When you’re hot, you’re hot. Good net drive on his (eventual, as the 2nd goal was later credited to him) 3rd of the night, a net drive with Austin Plevy, who made a great play in the final ten seconds going from his own blueline to the front of the net with the drag move, and then finding Tibbet on the doorstep. That goal came with three seconds on the clock in the period, and it was big at the time.

6. Tough spot for the Chiefs on the overtime winner. Mitchell Plevy was coming out of the box, and as is the custom, back to the Chilliwack bench. Due to the fact it was overtime, and 4 on 3 for an extra second or two, this allowed Ustaski to find a seam at the left side of the crease for the winner. One of those things. Good feed from Viktor Dombrovski to get it through.

7. Chilliwack did get a point out of this one, but they’ve got to be better. Too much time was spent in their own end, and turnovers cost them on the tying goal in the third period. When they did advance the puck out, there wasn’t nearly enough generated on offense. Langley gets credit there for being stingy. They dictated Friday, and eventually won. It’s why they’re the best in the division right now.

Up next: Prince George, Prospera Centre, Sunday, 5pm.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

First Of 2014: Rivermen Visit Prospera

January 3, 2014 Leave a comment

ChfVSLangley

Chilliwack Chiefs (10-26-1-2, 5th in Mainland Division) VS Langley Rivermen (22-12-1-4, 1st in Mainland Division) (Friday, January 3rd, Prospera Centre –  6:30 pregame/7pm faceoff on 89.5 The Drive)

Of the 19 remaining regular season games for the Chilliwack Chiefs, 16 are against Mainland Division opponents. Those 16 divisional games include five more against Langley, with the first of those five going Friday at Prospera Centre. (7pm)

The Chiefs have won a season high three straight, while the Rivermen have dropped their last three, including their first two post Christmas games. Langley is 3-1 against Chilliwack this season, and still has a three point lead over Prince George for tops in the division. The Chiefs are in 5th, 10 points out of a playoff spot.

Offense has been key for the Chiefs during the streak, with 23 goals in those three victories, but they’ve also been better defensively. Particularly against Surrey last weekend. Spencer Tremblay was stellar in goal both nights. Tremblay is 0-1 against Langley this year, while Josh Halpenny is 1-2 with a shutout back in mid October.

Langley has held the Chiefs to eight goals in their four previous matchups head to head. Carter Cochrane, Zach Diamontoni, and Cooper Rush all lead the way with three points each in the season series. Austin Plevy has lit it up against Surrey this year (5G, 6A) in five games, but has been held to two points in four against Langley this year by contrast. Tanner Cochrane has a four game point streak intact since returning to the Chiefs lineup, and Mathieu Tibbet has found the net five times in his last three games.

Rivermen Captain Mitch McLain has two goals and four points in the season series, while Matt Ustaski (3/1/4) and Will Cook (2/3/5) have also been effective against the Chiefs.

Chilliwack’s powerplay is among the best in the game overall, but only 2/27 against Langley. The Rivermen have scored only twice with the man-advantage as well, but on 13 fewer attempts – They’re 2-14 in the season series.

Chilliwack has all the motivation in the world as they try to close in on the Eagles for that final playoff spot, while the Rivermen are trying to get back on track after a terrific start to the season in the first half.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey
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