Column: Early season no time to panic

The first four games of the BCHL season have rough, but hockey columnist Jacob Bestebroer thinks the Chilliwack Chiefs will be OK.

No games for the Chilliwack Chiefs this weekend, as a scheduling quirk means the team has a full two weeks between games.

The Chiefs played a pair of games in Prince George last weekend.

After a full day on the bus Friday, they were beaten 7-1 but bounced back nicely and earned a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday, their first win of the season.

After four games the Chiefs have scored just five goals.

Reason for concern?

Sure.

Reason to panic?

I don’t believe so. Four games is just too small a sample size to jump to conclusions.

The offense will improve as will the power play which is 0/21 on the season. I watched Saturday’s game, and despite scoring just two goals and registering 21 shots, the Chiefs generated a half dozen quality scoring chances that they were unlucky not to score on.

Sometimes the box score can be misleading.

With so many Chiefs playing at this level of hockey for the first time it will take a bit of time. It’s a faster game for many of the players.

You can see many good decisions being made with the puck in the offensive zone but often the decisions are made a split second too late.

Give these guys a few more games and their decision making will speed up and the scoring chances will increase.

Defensively, the Chiefs have given up too many shots.

They didn’t give up as many shots as claimed in either of the two games in Prince George (43 and 53) but they’ve still given up too many.

Defensive positioning needs to improve and I expect that defensive play will be a priority at Chiefs practices during this two week break.

Some of the mistakes are again due to the increased speed of the game for many of the players. I’ve seen players take low percentage chances on loose pucks that have led to scoring chances against. These are likely chances that were high percentage chances for them where they played last year.

Again, it’s an adjustment period to a faster game.

The bright spot defensively has been the the penalty kill which has been very good with a success rate of just under 90 per cent.

Off the ice, the Chiefs second annual Salvation Army Golf Tournament goes next Thursday.

There are still a few spots open.

All the Chiefs players will be there. If you’re interested check the Chiefs site for more details.

The official home opener is versus Prince George a week from Saturday. BC Lions general manager Wally Buono will be there to sign autographs, as will a few of the Felions (Lions Dance Team).

The first 1,000 fans will get a free magnetic schedule.

The next night the Chiefs are back on home ice versus Salmon Arm. As part of this season’s back to back promotion, if you buy two tickets for Saturday’s game, you get a free ticket to the game the next night.

 

jb@chilliwackchiefs.net