Column: Seeing signs of scoring

In his latest hockey column, Jacob Bestebroer talks about improving defence and signs of life with the Chilliwack Chiefs offence.

The Chilliwack Chiefs face the Coquitlam Express this weekend in a home-and-home series  that includes a Saturday night tilt in Chilliwack.

Both teams are desperate for a win, entering the weekend with losing streaks of three and two games respectively.

Despite losing both games last weekend, I thought the Chiefs were much improved, especially in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Prince George, which was easily their best game of the young season.

Goaltender Lyndon Stanwood was excellent, making 37 saves and giving his team a chance to win.

The number of shots against may not reflect defensive improvement, but the quality of scoring chances against sure did. There has been an obvious improvement in defensive play since the opening night 6-1 loss to Powell River.

Offensively, this team continues to struggle to score goals with just eight through six games.  But we’re starting to see scoring chances now that we were not seeing a few weeks ago.

Ten seconds into the Friday’s game, Austin Plevy looked to have a sure goal only to have the puck bounce at the last second, causing his shot to go over the wide open net. That goes in and who knows how that game plays out.

Creating scoring chances and scoring goals isn’t always about skill. Hard work is just as important. Paying the price in offensive zone puck battles will lead to good things happening. Players are getting that, and they’re also starting to realize that without that work ethic they may find themselves out of the lineup.

Getting back to this weekend’s games, the Express, despite three straight losses are at the opposite offensive spectrum, leading the league with an average of 4.43 goals per game.

They are also a perfect 3-0-0-0 on the road this season.

Of the three players dealt to Coquitlam by the Chiefs in last season’s acquisition of Phil Zielonka only defenseman Ben Israel is still on the Express roster. Garret Forster was traded to the Alberta League’s Brooks Bandits where he has one assist in six games. Defenseman Shay Laurent is back in Chilliwack.

If you’re looking to save some money over walk up prices, there are a few options for you. Family Packs include two adult tickets, two youth tickets, four hot dogs and four pops for $42 including taxes.

You can buy them at the Prospera Centre box office or at the Chilliwack locations of Save On Foods, PriceSmart and Cooper’s Foods.

The Chiefs have also introduced a new Flex Pack. In addition to 10 voucher ($120) and 20 voucher ($220) packs, you can now purchase a six voucher pack for $66. That pack includes a free Chiefs hat and $16 of the purchase price can be donated to the local non-profit association of your choice.

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