One of my favorite things about junior hockey is that what is considered most likely to happen quite often doesn’t. We got another example of that last Sunday afternoon when the Chilliwack Chiefs played a road game against the BCHL’s top team, the Penticton Vees.
Granted, the Chiefs went into that game with the league’s second best record but any way you looked at this game, it pointed to a tough day for the Chiefs.
As mentioned, they were playing the top team in the league.
It was a road game.
It was their third game in three days and fourth in five days.
The Vees did not play the night before.
It was their final game before the break so you know players had to be thinking about getting home and seeing their friends and family.
Chiefs forward Jordan Kawaguchi was a late scratch.
The Vees were missing four players that are playing in the World Junior A Challenge, and that maybe balanced things out a bit, but I never expected to see the Chiefs best effort of the season.
That’s exactly what happened, though it didn’t start that way. The Chiefs took two early penalties and the Vees responded with 11 of the game’s first 12 shots.
They took a 1-0 lead and things were not looking good.
What followed was an incredible display of hockey by two of the best junior A teams in the county.
The Chiefs tied the game at one later in the first period and then the teams settled in to an exchange of ridiculously good scoring chances that were continually turned aside by goaltenders Hunter Miska (Penticton) and Aidan Pelino (Chilliwack).
The game ended in a 1-1 tie and I’ve gone back and watched the third period and overtime three times since. It was that good.
The Vees only make one visit to Chilliwack and that comes on Feb. 6.
I can’t wait for that one.
All in all the second half schedule looks like a good one for the Chiefs. There are a few tough stretches, but 15 of their final 25 games will be played at Prospera Centre, where they’ve lost just once this season.
Let’s have a quick look at some other key dates that fans may want to make note of in the second half of the season.
Always a fun night, the Chiefs annual Fill the Rink for the Food Bank which will happen on Dec. 28 when the Chiefs host the Surrey Eagles for a 5 p.m. game.
All tickets are just $6 with the donation of a non-perishable food item.
I can’t remember the Chiefs playing the same team three times in three nights during any regular season but that’s what happens when the Chiefs play the Langley Rivermen Jan. 9, 10 and 11.
The middle game will be in Chilliwack. If you’re interested in travelling to Langley for the Friday game, check out the Chiefs website for information on a ticket/dinner combo that is available for $25.
I also can’t remember the Chiefs ever playing three home games in three days but that happens as well.
As mentioned, the Penticton Vees visit on Feb. 6.
That’s just the first of three tough home games for the Chiefs that weekend.
The West Kelowna Warriors are in town the following night, and the Chiefs finish the weekend facing the Vernon Vipers.