Red-hot Chiefs face tall task on Island
A long stretch of home hockey has come to an end for the Chilliwack Chiefs, who now hit the road for seven straight games.
The Chiefs played six of their previous eight in the friendly confines of Prospera Centre. Coincidentally or not, they played their best hockey over that stretch, and carry an unbeaten-in-six string onto the road with them.
Head coach Harvey Smyl hopes the momentum joins them on the bus as they visit the Nanaimo Clippers Friday, Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday and Powell River Kings Sunday.
“There are two things that have been happening lately,” Smyl said when asked to explain his team’s turnaround. “We’re developing good work habits and the guys have learned how to be better prepared to play. That’s one thing and the other is that we now have a bit more chemistry.”
Smyl never completely stops mixing and matching his lineup, but he has kept some lines intact.
The best has been the trio of Austin Plevy, Luke Esposito and Josh Hansen.
“There’s still going to be bumps in the road, but those three like playing with each other and they’re good playing with each other,” Smyl said. “Top to bottom I think we’ve got some good cohesiveness, where everybody seems to be happy doing what they’re asked to do.”
Even with their hot run, the Chiefs still haven’t taken the outright lead in the dogfight that is the Mainland division.
Entering weekend play, the Coquitlam Express hold a one point lead over the second place Chiefs, albeit with Chilliwack holding one game in hand.
“I’m pleased with being down here and I love the rivalry games,” Smyl said of life in the BCHL’s toughest top-to-bottom division. “The games are extremely fun to coach and way more intense. From a player standpoint, as they learn more of the history, the games are going to get even getter.”
The Chiefs have faced Friday night’s opponent once already this season, beating the Clippers 2-1 in early September.
They haven’t seen the Bulldogs yet this year, but they handed Powell River a 3-0 Sept. 28 at Prospera Centre.
Get a weekend wrap in the Tuesday sports section.