A quirk in the BCHL schedule has proven highly beneficial for Chilliwack’s junior A Chiefs.
The local squad has played just once over the last eight days, dispatching the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-1 last Wednesday.
In the interim, the team has packed in lots of practice time and rested some banged up players.
“I don’t know how it will affect us because I can’t remember ever having a situation like this in a stretch run,” said Chiefs bench boss Harvey Smyl Monday morning. “But the one thing I do see is we have lots of bumps and bruises right now. Hopefully we can heal up and get ready for the last seven games.”
Smyl kept the practice schedule light over the week. The team mixed on-ice sessions with dryland training and public relations appearances.
As they prepare for a Tuesday night tilt against those same Salmon Armians, the Chiefs remain in fourth place in the Interior conference standings.
And while they’ve been resting, the fifth place Vernon Vipers have been playing, and losing.
The Snakes dropped a 6-4 road decision to the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday, then found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision versus the Powell River Kings on Saturday.
Vernon now sits three back of Chilliwack for the last playoff spot in the Interior conference, and the Chiefs have two games in hand.
“Yeah, it certainly helps,” Smyl said when asked about Vernon’s struggles. “But we still need to win games in order to get in there (playoffs).
As mentioned, the Silverbacks are in town tonight for a 7 p.m. puck drop at Prospera Centre.
It is the seventh meeting of the season between the two teams in a season series that has been thoroughly dominated by Chilliwack.
The Chiefs have taken all six previous meetings.
“They do have some players who are extremely talented, three kids in particular that I think are very impressive,” Smyl noted. “There were a couple of games in their building where I think we were a little fortunate, and hard work and effort was everything.”
The latest win was powered by Chilliwack native Josh Hansen, who scored twice to lead the attack.
“That was one of the games where hard work was the winning factor for us, and both of his goals were from hard work,” Smyl said. “That’s what you need at this time of year, and to get that kind of contribution from a defensive line, that’s a nice bonus.”
Derek Huisman and David Bondra also scored for the Chiefs, who are benefitting from a resurgent first line.
“I think that any team, to be successful, needs a number one line to win them games,” Smyl said. “Certainly, those guys are coming through for us right now.”
Starting goaltender Mitch Gillam stopped 33 of 34 shots, winning a duel against Silverbacks keeper Kurt Williams (30 saves on 34 shots).
— Chilliwack native Brad King suited up in last week’s win over Westside, picking up his first BCHL point.
King drew the second assist on Chilliwack’s fourth goal, scored by Hansen.