There may be no better way to ease the pain of back to back losses to the BCHL’s top team than a nice road trip to Trail and back to back games against the BCHL’s worst team.
That’s where the Chilliwack Chiefs find themselves this weekend, looking to bounce back against the cellar dwelling Trail Smoke Eaters.
The Chiefs look to rebound from a bad weekend against the Penticton Vees, capped off by a 9-0 road loss at the South Okanagan Events Centre Saturday night.
At 4-16-1-3, the Smokies present an inviting target.
They’re not just the last place team in the 16 team circuit, they’re eight points behind the next worst teams (Langley and Westside at 20 points each).
The Smokies can’t score.
Trail’s got a league-low 60 goals in 24 games, with a fifth of their offence provided by Clayton Chessa (12 goals).
Trail also can’t keep the puck out of their net.
They’ve given up 127 goals this season, 15 more than the next most defensively deficient squad (Victoria at 115).
This is as close to an automatic four points as the Chiefs will find on their schedule this year.
So why should there be any reason for nervousness?
Maybe because these are the very definition of trap games.
The Smoke Eaters are actually riding a one game winning streak, having dumped the Westside Warriors 3-1 at the Cominco Arena in Trail last weekend.
Recently signed goaltender Lyndon Stanwood was the difference maker, turning aside 33 of the 34 shots directed his way.
Though he stands just five-foot-six and weights 160 pounds soaking wet, the West Vancouver native came up large.
Stanwood stopped 26 shots in the first two periods to preserve a 1-0 lead, highlighted by a sprawling cross-crease save off of star forward Richard Vanderhoek late in the second.
The 18-year-old made his first BCHL start Friday night, taking a 4-1 loss against those same Warriors.
Stanwood said he made some adjustments between games that paid off.
“It was a big difference yesterday I found, but coming in today I felt better – I was a little more used to it. I realize the guys are a little more quicker, harder shots, so that one game helped me adapt,” he said. “It feels pretty good, being my second game in the league, with losing a tough one yesterday, today winning is just so good.”
The diminutive goaltender has created a positive early impression on the team.
“He’s been standing on his head, he’s great. I mean he’s fast, he sees the puck well when the shot’s from the outside and he’s been what we need,” said Chessa.
Chilliwack native Connor Tiechko scored twice and added an assist in the 3-1 win, teaming with Chessa and Garrett McMullen to form Trail’s most dangerous line.
Tiechko started the year with the Prince George Spruce Kings, playing six games with one assist. Since coming to the Smoke Eaters, the 19-year-old has recorded three goals and seven points in nine games.
Tiechko split his first 46 BCHL games between the Nanaimo Clippers and Surrey Eagles and has 18 goals and 43 points in his junior A career.
Check Tuesday’s Progress sports section for a Chiefs weekend wrapup.