Jason Tatarnic believes the standard of officiating in the BCHL playoffs has benefited Chilliwack’s opponents in the Fred Page Cup final.
Tatarnic’s Chilliwack Chiefs are down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series against West Kelowna and face elimination tonight at Prospera Centre (7 p.m.).
West Kelowna has gotten to within one win of a title employing a physical style that is heavy on hooking/holding/obstruction.
In the regular season, Tatarnic says many things the Warriors are getting away with now would draw penalties.
But now, at the most important time of the year, those fouls aren’t being called.
“There are chances we normally create at five-on-five that wouldn’t be taken away with a penalty in the regular season,” the coach noted. “There’s stuff that we create (now) that’s all of a sudden done with. That opportunity’s long gone because of a hold or whatever.”
“And give them credit, they’re good at it. They’re big. They clutch and grab and hold and for guys like (Jordan) Kawaguchi and (Vimal) Sukumaran, they have to work and work and work to get scoring chances.”
Tatarnic says he’s saving most of his thoughts for the league’s summer meetings when he’ll make it clear how he feels.
“I think it’s something us as a league has to discuss, about whether we want that standard to change from the regular season to the playoffs,” he said. “Our league is known as a skill league and you’ve got to allow your skill players to be your skill players.”
“You want your Tyson Josts, your Kawaguchis, your (Sheldon) Rempels and (Jonathan) Desbiens to shine.”
“That’s not just me making a pitch for my team to get more penalty calls. For every team you want your best players to have the chance to be your best players.”
The BCHL circulated a memo after game three promising a crackdown on after-the-whistle nonsense and obstruction tactics, and enforced it for one period in game four before reverting to type.
Tatarnic doesn’t believe change will happen in time to aid his team, which means they’ll have to help themselves.
“The only difference is we’re three wins away from a championship and they’re one game away and the bottom line is we have to win three in a row,” Tatarnic says. “But we have to take it one win at a time, so all our focus will be on Friday to get a win.”
For all the talk about West Kelowna’s tactics, the Chiefs could do themselves a big favour improving in two areas.
First, they could get a greater contribution from the bottom nine, which thus far has left the offensive heavy-lifting to Kawaguchi, Sukumaran and Darien Craighead.
Two, better special teams.
Chilliwack coughed up two power play goals in Tuesday’s overtime loss and their own power play’s been ineffective.
“I thought we were the better team in that one, and the difference right now is they’re scoring on their chances and we’re not,” Tatarnic notes. “Special teams are where adjustments have to be made.”
“When we’re on the power play they get in the shooting lanes really well and their D does a good job on second opportunities.”
“It’s nothing we haven’t seen, but they’re really good at it.”