Sunday Leftovers: Eagles 7, Chiefs 4

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment
Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo

Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo

I decided to let this one sit for a little bit before addressing it. Here’s some leftover thoughts rattling around in my brain following a 7-4 loss to the Surrey Eagles Saturday night, ensuring the Chiefs will not be invited to the BCHL’s post-season party:

– Certainly more energy from the team off the hop last night. Harvey Smyl mentioned in the pregame that his club was a little nervous early on Friday night in Surrey, so that was certainly addressed beforehand. Tough to play with your playoff fate hanging in the balance. Lots to handle mentally. I thought the Chiefs dealt with that well enough.

– The game was won in the second period. Braeden Russell had a goal called back when it appeared the Surrey forward tied up Josh Halpenny in front, and Chilliwack took the lead seconds later on a Mathieu Tibbet breakaway (Mathieu hit the 20 goal plateau on that rush – nice to see the three year vet hit that mark) but the Eagles answered back in a big way, scoring four unanswered goals.

– A major part of that run for Surrey in the second period was the Renouf twins. Nathan and Jonah work together really well along the boards and down low. Surrey’s zone time wasn’t quite so significant Saturday as it was Friday, but the Eagles wore down the Chiefs in their own zone as the game went along.

– Chilliwack had a little push in the third period, which was nice to see thanks to goals from Tanner Cochrane and Ben Butcher, but an empty netter sealed the team’s fate for the season. Nine games left with this group, and it’s only for pride ( and in some cases, spots for next year) from here on out.

– Said this on the broadcast and I’ll say it again: There will be fans, passionate ones who will be critical of the overall product on the ice this season, and rightfully so. It’s a results based business, and everyone within the organization certainly understands that.

I bring this up because it’s going to be very easy to point to this year and say ‘This is the first time in 21 years a Harvey Smyl club has missed the playoffs.”

While that is true, that shouldn’t take away from one hell of a run that Harvey has had behind the bench. 21 years (with League Titles/RBC trips) is a long time of sustained success, and a ton of work goes into achieving that. The results of this year shouldn’t cloud any of that. Just wanted to throw that out there.

– Nine games left with this group. While they won’t mean anything in the standings, it means something to the 20 year olds who will be finishing out their Junior careers. (or in some cases, their hockey careers) They’ll mean something to the guys eligible to return here next season, be it here or somewhere else in the league – Guys playing for spots, and leaving impressions on the coaching staff. They’ll mean something to the coaches, and front office staff, who’ve done a heck of a job as always this season.

Hang with this group, and Soupy and I, for nine more games, won’t ya?

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Categories: Chiefs Hockey

Eagles 5, Chiefs 2

February 1, 2014 Leave a comment
Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo

Thanks to Darren Francis for the photo

Not too much to say following a 5-2 Surrey victory over the Chiefs on Friday night at the SSA. The Chiefs had to be the desperate bunch coming into this weekend, if they were to keep their very slim playoff hopes alive. It’s a shame the team didn’t really show that desperation tonight until late in the game.

Some quick thoughts – Josh Halpenny was his team’s best player tonight, particularly at the outset of the game. The Eagles didn’t pepper Halpenny with pucks in the first twenty minutes, but most all of their chances were grade-A right in front of the goal. Halpenny made a couple of five-alarm saves on Anthony Conti and Danton Heinen. I thought it was his best sequence in a Chiefs uniform to date. The Conti goal to open the scoring came off extended zone time thanks to an awful Chilliwack turnover. The Chiefs were lucky to only be down by one after one. They left their goaltender hanging early on in this one.

Surrey wasn’t deterred however, as they added two quick ones in the second period early on. Both were similar plays with good passing near the net. The Renouf twins, Nathan and Jonah were tough tonight, and they’ve been reborn a little playing with Braeden Russell. Those three combined on the second goal, and were dangerous most of the night.

I thought Caleb Thompson stood out for the Chiefs tonight, despite the mediocrity around him. He was hard on the Eagles forwards every time out, finishing his checks, playing physical, and keeping things simple. You guys already know that it’s tough for me to watch defensemen unless they’re having a real tough night – Caleb stood out for the right reasons tonight, I thought. He was good.

Even the momentum generated didn’t last too long in this one. Mathieu Tibbet scored on another trademark rush to break Devon Fordyce’s shutout bid, but the Eagles would answer right back 1:07 later to restore the four goal lead. Austin Ferguson and his 2 goals on the season put home a rebound in front, and any MO’ was halted pretty quickly, which was an obvious letdown.

Not much to look back on tonight for the Chiefs. Not enough carry-over from the positives of the previous weekend to be successful. Now it’s win or be eliminated from playoff contention Saturday night at Prospera Centre. As desperate as it gets. Let’s hope that desperation shines through on Saturday on home ice.

Categories: Chiefs Hockey

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.



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
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