Column: Schedule shift brings tougher stretch

As Jacob Bestebroer explains in his latest column, the Chilliwack Chiefs benefited from a friendly November slate.

The Chilliwack Chiefs did what they needed to do in November, taking advantage of a friendly schedule to vault themselves into first place in the Mainland division.

How friendly was it? Seven of nine games were on home ice and the two road games were played an hour away in Surrey against the last place Eagles. Two of the home games were against the second-to-last Prince George Spruce Kings.

Even with the Christmas break, Chilliwack plays eight games this month starting with home games this weekend against Coquitlam and Nanaimo.

The Coquitlam Express finish a bizarre three game stretch that saw them defeat Vernon at home Wednesday and travel all the way to PG Thursday.

Saturday the Nanaimo Clippers are in town.

Note the start time is 7:30 to accommodate Chilliwack’s Christmas parade. Efforts to move the game to the early afternoon were foiled by Nanaimo.

The Chiefs will be without the services of five players Saturday night.

Forwards Jordan Kawaguchi, Vimal Sukumaran and Kohen Olischefski along with defenceman Dennis Cholowski and goaltender Matteo Esposito will all be at Team West’s camp in preparation for the World Junior A Challenge in Ontario.

Should any of them make the team they would remain away until after the Christmas break.

With all these players absent the Chiefs will bring in four affiliates. Three players will join the Chiefs from the Yale Academy U-18 prep team.

The group includes 16 year old forward Parm Dhaliwal, who ranks third in CSSHL scoring with 34 points in 22 games.

We’ll also get our first look at defencemen Austin Chorney and Jordan Schulting.   Chorney, at just 15 years of age is the top scoring defenceman in the league with eight goals and 12 assists in 23 games.  Schulting is a 16 year old defenceman from Penticton who has seven goals and 10 assists in 23 games.

Both Schulting and Dhaliwal are committed to the Chiefs for next season.

Backing up Aidan Pelino will be 17 year old goaltender Gunnar Neilsen, who has a record of 9-2 with the Junior B PIJHL league leading Mission City Outlaws.

A couple other games of note this month. On Dec. 13 the Chiefs host the Merritt Centennials.

Game time is 5 p.m. and the Chiefs will host their annual Teddy Bear/Toque toss that night. When the Chiefs score their first goal, fans can toss a new stuffed animal or toque onto the ice which will then be donated to Chilliwack Community services.

On Dec. 30, the Chiefs host the Langley Rivermen in their annual Fill the Rink for the Food Back game. Tickets are priced at just $6 with the donation of a non perishable food item.

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