Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column during the hockey season discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs and goings-on around the junior A world.
Two wins against nationally ranked teams last weekend has snapped the Chiefs out of their early season slump. The two wins, both on home ice against the Wenatchee Wild and Trail Smoke Eaters came despite the Chiefs giving both their opponents a ridiculous amount of opportunities on the power play.
In both games, they had to kill nine penalties. Granted, not all penalties are created equally. In Friday’s game against the Wild, the refs called penalties that in most games I’ve seen this year have not been called. Sunday however was a different story, with several members of the Chiefs seemingly competing for the worst penalty of the year award (not a real award). That allowed Trail, a very tired team to erase a 3-1 third period lead.
While the penalty kill units performed admirably, allowing two goals to the Wild’s number one ranked power play and just one to the Smoke Eaters, this is a trend that I am sure the team will be working to correct.
To this point in the season, the Chief are getting an average of 4.5 power play opportunities per game. That ranks 12th among the BCHL’s 17 teams. This number would seem to be acceptable, given 12th is where the Chiefs ranked last year with a slightly less 3.91 chances per game.
The big difference in special teams between last year and this year is the number of power plays the Chiefs opponents are getting. Last season, they had to kill an average of 4.24 penalties per game, giving them a power play vs shorthanded ratio average of -.33 per game. That’s an acceptable number.
This season they are forcing themselves to kill 6.3 penalties per game which gives them a special teams ratio average of -1.80. That’s a difficult number to work with.
The season is still young, so the sample size for all these stats is small but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
Special teams could be a factor when the Chiefs host the Powell River Kings tonight (Friday). The Kings lead the Island Division with a record of 7-1-1-0 and special teams are a big reason for their success. They are allowing their opponents an average of 2.78 power plays per game, almost one full chance less than the league’s second lowest 3.67 by Wenatchee. They themselves are getting of 5.89 power play chances per game, which gives them an average of three more chances per game than their opponent.
The Chiefs will also host the Coquitlam Express Saturday. Fans should get a look at the newest Chief, forward Jordan Roy who was added to the team earlier this week. Roy spent the last two seasons in the Western Hockey League, splitting time between the Tri City Americans and Red Deer Rebels. He’s a big body, 6’3 just under 200 pounds that should be able to score at this level.