For the first time this season, the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs find themselves in a bit of a slump.
Back to back losses to Alberni Valley (4-2) and the Merritt Centennials (6-2) provide a test of character for a team that has had just about everything go right so far.
Head coach Jason Tatarnic is eager to see how his boys respond as they head into a weekend home-and-home versus Langley.
“Adversity is not a bad thing, and being challenged is always a good thing,” the bench boss said.
Injuries are the biggest challenge Tatarnic faces, juggling his lineup to account for the walking wounded.
Since losing defencemen Olivier Arseneau and Mark Esposito and forward Rory Bell to injury, the team has dressed a series of youthful call-ups.
While 15 and 16 year old kids like Kohen Olischefski, Darren Rizzolo, Jesse Lansdell and Jarret Tsyzka have fared well in relief, there’s no doubt Tatarnic prefers a healthy lineup.
“We should have Esposito and Brandon Potomak back, but will they be in 100 per cent game shape?” Tatarnic asked. “Probably not. But they will get thrown back into the fire and away they go.”
One thing Tatarnic will emphasize in this week’s team meetings is discipline. Merritt broke open a 3-2 game with three third period goals, helped by a Chiefs penalty parade. Referees Mike Langin and Kevin Crowell dished out 17 power plays, seven for Chilliwack and 10 for the Cents.
“I thought we played a real good first period, but the amount of penalties from that point on took away the flow of the game and disrupted our forecheck and pressure,” Tatarnic said. “We’re not allowed to comment on the performance of officials, but put it this way. I wasn’t happy with the game.”
The Chiefs host Langley Saturday at 7 p.m.