Chiefs struggle to find consistency

BCHL, Chilliwack Chiefs, Vernon Vipers, Powell River Kings, Merritt Centennials

Are you a glass-half-full hockey fan or a glass-half-empty hockey fan?

The glass-half-full sort will look at Chilliwack’s just completed weekend as a success.

Beating Vernon 4-1 on Friday.

Great!

Getting a point from a tough road building in Merritt on Sunday.

Great!

The glass-half-empty sort will look at that same weekend and see a big win followed by two disappointing losses, 5-3 at home to Powell River on Saturday and 4-3 in overtime versus Merritt.

As nice as it was to beat the reigning BCFC and Canadian champion Vipers, Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl was leaning more towards empty glasses Monday morning.

“I was disappointed with the way we ended the weekend and I didn’t think we played very well,” Chilliwack’s bench boss said.

In beating Vernon, the Chiefs played fast and physical, getting four third period goals (Kit Sitterley, Jaret Babych, David Bondra and Ty Miller) to stun the Royal Bank Cup titleists.

Against Powell River, a first period penalty fest had the home team down 4-0 early in the second period before a late rally made things interesting.

Midway through the first period, Chiefs D-man Stefan Gonzales responded to a dubious hit on teammate Mike Spring by pummelling Powell River’s Jordan Benton.

When the dust settled, the Chiefs had to play seven minutes shorthanded, and the Kings cashed in three power play goals (two by Cohen Adair, one by Jon Jutzi).

“I didn’t think it helped the hockey club a whole lot at that time, although he (Gonzales) felt he was doing what was good for the team,” Smyl said. “You can’t fault him for that. He made a decision he thought was right, and hopefully we as a group learn from it and become better in the long run.”

Derek Huisman scored two against Powell River with Spring picking up a single. Chilliwack had a six-on-four advantage in the final minute before Kings forward Teighan Waugh iced the game with an empty netter.

The Chiefs dug themselves into another hole against Merritt, trailing 3-0 28 seconds into period two.

Goals by David Thompson, Bondra and Huisman got the game to OT where Merritt’s Silvan Harper scored the winner.

“We played a little bit smarter, but didn’t have everybody buying into the program,” Smyl said. “We had a couple passengers, and I think that’s the reason that we weren’t able to win that game.”

Chilliwack fired 36 shots at the Merritt net, but a lack of execution hurt.

“We had four breakaways, and we didn’t execute on any of them,” Smyl said. “We out-chanced them (the Centennials), but we just didn’t finish.”

Chilliwack comes out of the weekend at 4-2-0-1.

They’re sixth in the Interior conference, though their winning percentage is third behind Penticton and Vernon.

The weekend ahead takes them to the Island for back-to-back-to-back games against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (Friday), Victoria Grizzlies (Saturday) and  Nanaimo Clippers (Sunday).

As disappointed as Smyl may be over the weekend that was, he believes there’s plenty to build on.

“I believe we have lots of room to improve on. I believe our consistency is a little bit of a issue and I think our willingness to compete day in and day out is a bit of a worry,” Smyl said. “But I also believe in our program and I think if we keep working and progressing, we’ll be in the mix at the end.”

Chilliwack’s next home game is Oct. 28 when the Trail Smoke Eaters drop by Prospera Centre for a 7 p.m. start.

Find stats and standings online at www.bchl.ca and find Chiefs info at www.chilliwackchiefs.net.

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