Chilliwack Chiefs lose two in BCHL opening-weekend action

The junior A team traveled to Prince George to take on the Spruce Kings, falling 5-1 and 2-1.

The Chilliwack Chiefs are off to a rough start to the 2018-19 BCHL season after dropping a pair of road games in Prince George.

Facing the team that bounced them from the playoffs last spring, the Chiefs fell 5-1 Friday night and 2-1 Saturday night at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.

The Spruce Kings threw plenty of pucks on net in the opener.

Mathieu Caron got the start in the Chilliwack cage and allowed first period goals to Nick Bochen (on the power play) and Nicholas Poisson.

Kevin Wall’s first BCHL goal got the Chiefs on the board early in the second period, and it was a one-goal game heading to the final frame.

But tallies by Nolan Welsh, Sam Kowzlowski and Ben Brar (power play) put the game away.

Logan Neaton stopped 15 of 16 pucks in the PG cage.

Saturday’s rematch was a little more competitive.

Caron was super busy again, facing 37 shots. The Abbotsford native held the Spruce Kings off the scoreboard until early in the third period, when a Kozlowski power play goal opened the scoring.

Patrick Cozzi gave Prince George a 2-0 lead at 14:15 of the final frame.

A power play goal by Wall at 15:10 got the Chiefs back within one, but Neaton and his team were able to hold on to the final whistle.

“For our younger group, it was a learning game playing against a veteran group,” said Chiefs associate head coach Cam Keith. “Prince George is polished and based on veteran players who understand the league and the pace and the systems their team plays because they played there last year.

“Our team is still learning and it’s going to be a process getting them where they need to be to play junior A hockey.”

The coaching staff was looking for flashes of offensive ability, and they saw it. But Keith said it’s raw.

“You can never accurately project how fast kids are going to develop, but we saw glimpses of what you’re going to see later in the season,” he said. “We’re hoping that game-to-game it’ll keep trending upwards, but it’s so hard predict how fast it will take place.”

Mark Wall down as an obvious bright spot, and a player Keith believes is ready to be an impact player from day one.

“You don’t normally see this from a first-year guy, but Kevin has already established himself as a go-to guy,” the coach noted. “We’re going to depend on him for scoring and he’s going to have to carry that weight.”

Chilliwack has a road game Friday night in Langley followed by Saturday’s home opener versus the Rivermen (7 p.m.).

They host the Surrey Eagles Sunday (2 p.m.)

See bchl.ca for more.

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