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Thursday, March 5, 2015

CHIEFS HOLD COURT AT HOME

The Chilliwack Chiefs took home ice to their advantage winning the first two games of the Mainland Division semi final vs. the Express taking game 2, 6-2 in Chilliwack.

Chilliwack peppered the Express goaltender Chris Tai with the first 8 shots of the game. They opened the scoring less than three minutes into the contest on a power play goal by Jake Hand whose shot hit an Express defender on the way to the net and found its way past Chris Tai.

In game 1 the Express had 40 shots on David Jacobson, but the Express brass felt they didn't get enough pucks to the dirty areas that could lead to goals. They did a better job of that in the first period of game two. And it made a difference on the tying goal. Daniel Fritz's point shot got to the net leading a scramble and Jackson Cressey finding the puck in the crease to swat home a rebound to tie the game at one.

After the fast start on the shot clock for Chilliwack, the Express raised their game and finished the period only being outshot 14-13.

This game was turned on it's ear in a 1:59 span in the second period. It started with Tipper Higgins finding a loose puck in front of the the Express net and swatting into the open net.

Then just 20 seconds later Higgins shot from the right wing bounced to the Express biggest thorn in their side Jordan Kawaguchi who scored his 9th goal vs. the Express this season and 2nd of the playoffs for a 3-1 lead. That was followed up by a goal by Brandon Potomak who cut to the middle with a toe drag and snapped the puck between the pads of Tai.

The top line of Lamont, Supinski and Mackin cut the deficit back to one as Mackin found himself alone in front and he was able to slide the puck through the legs of Jacobson as Mackin came across the crease.

The top line combined for 1 goal and 4 assists tonight, but they were checked pretty closely most of the night. At times it appeared the Mackin was wearing either Luke McColgan or Eric Roberts as a jacket tonight considering how closely they were keeping Mackin within reach.

One of the areas I felt that Chilliwack had as a strong suit in this series was their balance. It came to the forefront in game two with six different goal scorers. Scott Davidson tipped home a Jake Hand shot for a the 5-2 goal.

Then with Brendan Gulka in the room after taking a double minor for roughing and getting a misconduct, Craig Puffer finished off the scoring tipping home a Dennis Chylowski point shot.

Chilliwack finished the night 2 for 4 on the power play while the Express were 1 for 4.

The Chiefs outshot the Express 41-36.

They say you're never in trouble in a playoff series until you lose at home.

The Express certainly hope that is true. Game 3 will be Friday night in Coquitlam

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CHIEFS TAKE PLAYOFF OPENER WITH EXPRESS

The Chilliwack Chiefs took game 1 of the Mainland division semi final with the Express by a 4-1 score.

Chiefs netminder David Jacobsen was solid in the net turning aside 39 of 40 shots and was named first star.

The Express had a 14-9 edge in shots in the first period and settled into a good start on the road. They just weren't able to to break through offensively.

The Chiefs have been able to get on the Express in the first period of games played in Chilliwack all season. Game 1 was no different.  Jordan Kawaguchi opened the scoring as he was able to come out from behind the net and beat Chris Tai up high with a shot from the goal line.

Then late in the first period Jake Hand was able to poke the puck past a diving Taylor Green and score on a breakaway for a 2-0 Chiefs lead despite being out shot 14-9. Chilliwack has outscored the Express 19-4 in the first period this season and 13-2 at Prospera Centre.

The second saw the Express get three opportunities to work on the powerplay but they were unable to convert on any of them despite some good puck control and chances. The inability to make those chances count certainly hurt the Express in game one. They finished the night 0 for 4.

In the opening minute of the third period Brendan Gulka was stopped in the slot and Owen Stout put the rebound though the crease missing the open net on the best scoring chance of the night for the Express. 

After a run of 4 consecutive Express powerplays to open the game it was only a matter of time before Chilliwack got their chances.

Kurt Black sealed game one with a powerplay goal with a wrist shot from the slot that trickled past Chris Tai midway through the third.

Daniel Fritz broke Daniel Jacobson's shutout bid with a screen shot from the point with just under two minutes to go.

Jake Hand rounded out the scoring with his second of the night into an empty net.

Game two goes Wednesday night in Chilliwack.

Monday, March 2, 2015

MACKIN AND SUPINSKI TAKE HOME BCHL HARDWARE

Corey Mackin and Brett Supinski were recognized for their fantastic regular seasons with the announcement of the BCHL award winners Monday afternoon. Click here to see all BCHL award winners


Corey Mackin was named the BCHL's Most valuable player and Brett Supinski was named the BCHL's rookie of the year. The awards were voted on by the coaches in the BCHL.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania native Mackin more than doubled his rookie season production of 50 points in his second season in the BCHL by becoming the first player since 2010 to score 50 goals and register more than 100 points. His 50 goals and 104 points earned him the BCHL scoring championship as well.
Photo Courtesy of Damon James Photography.

Mackin also lead the BCHL with 9 shorthanded goals which led the BCHL and was 6 more than his nearest competition from a group of players who had 3 including teammate Brett Supinski. The 9 shorthanded goals also set a new Express franchise record for most shorthanded goals in a season set by Kyle Turris who had 7 in the 05-06 season.

This is the fourth time in Express franchise history that an Express player has won the MVP award. The previous times were Alex Petan 2012, Carlo Finucci 2008 and Kyle Turris 2007. Mackin is also the 2nd player to win the BCHL scoring championship joining Carlo Finucci in 2008.

His 104 points is tied for the second most points in a season by a player tied equalling Tyler McNeely who racked up his total in 2007. Mackin's 50 goals makes him the third player in Express history to score 50 goals in a season joining Kyle Turris who had 66 in 2007 and Brodie Reid's 52 in 2008.

Next season Mackin will attend Ferris State University.

Collegeville Pennsylvania native Brett Supinski in his one and only season in the BCHL finished second in BCHL goals and points with 48 goals and 98 points trailing only teammate Corey Mackin. It was the first time since 1997 that two teammates finished 1-2 in BCHL scoring.

Photo Courtesy of Damon James Photography

The 9 game winning goals for Supinski led the BCHL in that category. He scored all 3 overtime winning goals for the Express this season including scoring OT winners on consecutive nights December 19th and 20th vs. Victoria and Prince George.

He also set new Express franchise marks for most goals and points in a season by an Express rookie breaking the marks set by Brett Hemingway in the Express first season in 2001-02.

It's the 5th time in 14 seasons, and 3rd time in the last 5 seasons that an Express player has won the top rookie award. Previous Express winners are Alexander Kerfoot 2012, Destry Straight 2011, Kyle Turris 2006 and Brett Hemingway 2002.

To put the statistical achievements of Mackin and Supinski in a little perspective, they put their numbers up in a 58 game schedule when the previous winners did it in 60 game schedules.

Next season Supinski will attend Union College.

Congratulations to Corey and Brett for their fantastic seasons that will be talked about for years to come. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A LITTLE DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN IN FINAL PLAYOFF TUNEUP

If you felt like you had experienced a deja vu by about 7:30pm Saturday you were probably right.

The Express for a second straight game saw Chilliwack score 4 first period goals in less than 10 minutes to open up a 4-0 lead. This time finishing with a 6-1 win over the Express to conclude the regular season.

Friday Chilliwack scored four goals in a 6:52 span and had a 4-0 lead by the 16:04 mark.

They didn't waste as much time Saturday getting a four goal bulge on the Express.

In the opening minute Tipper Higgins found himself with room in the slot and he let a wrist shot fly that beat Chris Tai just :43 seconds in.

33 seconds later the Chiefs struck again as a Jake Hand dump in hit a stanchion in the corner to the left of Tai and bounced in front of a vacated net as Chris Tai went out awaiting the pucks arrival which never came and Scott Davidson buried the puck into the open net.

In a pair of games where both teams were looking for things they can learn going into the playoff series between the two teams that begins Tuesday, Chris Tai can learn that the net he will guard for the first and third periods has a stanchion at the zamboni entrance that could make pucks do funny things on dump ins.

5:02 later it was 3-0 Chilliwack as Rory Bell beat Chris Tai with a wrist shot from the left wing. Craig Puffer got the fourth Chilliwack goal of the opening frame as his wrist shot from the slot hit a body on the way to the net and trickled past Chris Tai. Certainly two of the goals to get past Tai were tough bounces.

Saturday Chilliwack got four goals on 14 shots in a span of 9:41.

When the playoffs begin Tuesday, the mental part of the game is key to any teams success. And the ability to have a short memory and forget things that don't go right and finding a way to re-focus is key. Well Saturday night we were given a great example of Chris Tai's ability to let by gones be by gones and focus on the next task.

The Express net minder would finish the night seeing a personal season high 56 shots and what he did in the 43 minutes and 38 seconds between goals 4 and 5 of the night for Chilliwack was remarkable.

As he was getting peppered with puck after puck and facing 36 shots between goals and some high quality Chiefs chances, Tai shut the door and was as good as I've ever seen him this season. He kept the game from reaching double digits with some of the saves he made. And to come up with a performance like that after the start he endured tells you a lot about his character.

Certainly the Express will need to play much better in front of Tai starting Tuesday. If that happens and Tai is on like was after his rough start for the whole game the Express have a chance in this series.

Chilliwack's fast start on the other hand in the last two outings shows their ability to be ready to play and the Express must make sure they're ready to match it.

Chilliwack rounded out the scoring on a Peter Forsberg like one handed goal by Jake Hand to make it 5-1 on the Chiefs 51st shot. I don't think that goal will be on a postage stamp anytime soon. Tai very much might have had a chance on that goal to make another great save if he was 5'11 instead of 5'9 as he stretched out to try make the save. The final goal for the Chiefs was a Ryan Bowen wrist shot that hit an Express defender and found the twine.

Brett Supinski scored the lone Express goal in the final minute of the second period finishing off a give and go with Corey Mackin. Supinski finishes the season with 48 goals and 98 points. Mackin completes his BCHL scoring championship season with 50 goals and 104 points which puts him in a tie with Tyler McNeely for the second most points in a season by an Express player.

The Express know they weren't at their best in these final two games of the regular season. They know the intensity level goes up a few notches starting Tuesday.

When the Express have been at their best in the final 6 weeks or so of the season they've been able to spread their offense around pretty equally around the lineup. That will need to come to the forefront again starting Tuesday.

Chilliwack's balanced attack is one area of note I've looked closely at in advance of this series. It showed itself in these two games by scoring 11 goals and only Jake Hand scored more than once with three goals. Eight other players scored goals for Chilliwack in the final two games.

Now the time has arrived to be willing to sacrifice for the guy sitting next to you in that dressing room. Be committed as the Express open the playoffs Tuesday embarking on that journey again which can be a magical ride as the Express look to keep the Fred Page Cup in Coquitlam for another spring and summer.

EXPRESS SEASON AWARDS

As is tradition for the Express the final regular season home game it means the Express take time to recognize the players for their efforts on and off the ice with year end awards. You're award winners for this year are.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER - Noah Turanski and Jackson Cressey.

MOST POPULAR PLAYER - Joey Santucci

UNSUNG HERO - Brendan Lamont

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT - Joey Santucci and Jackson Cressey

TOP SCORER - Corey Mackin

PLAYER OF THE GAME AWARDS - Corey Mackin

TOP FORWARD - Corey Mackin and Brett Supinski

OUTSTANDNG DEFENCEMAN - Daniel Fritz

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Brett Supinski MVP - Corey Mackin

OLD PLAYOFF RIVALRY RENEWED

The Chilliwack Chiefs set up a first round matchup with the Express with a 5-2 win over the Express in the final regular season home game for the Express. There wasn't much for either team to play for entering the game. The Express had an outside chance to move up to third place with wins in the final two regular season games vs. Chilliwack and a pair of Spruce Kings regulation losses. But that didn't happen. Chilliwack had first place sewn up in the Mainland division. The Express had a chance to help get Brett Supinski his 50th goal and 100th point as he entered the game with 47 goals and 97 points. Knowing these teams would likely meet in the first round at puck drop neither team really wanted to tip their hand much for what we may see come game 1 on Tuesday. The Express got off to a fast start by opening up an early 8-1 advantage in shots in the first 8 minutes but Aidan Pelino kept the Express at bay. Then Chilliwack began to find their game and instantly it seemed the flood gates opened. Jordan Kawaguchi on a wraparound scored his 28th of the season to get Chilliwack going. The goal pulled him into a tie for the team lead in goals with Craig Puffer. 90 seconds later it was Brandon Potomak extending the lead as his backhand from the right wing hit Braden Krogfoss went up in the air and had just enough to cross the goal line for a 2-0 lead. Potomak was one of the more dangerous Chiefs all night using his speed. 1:52 after that it was 3-0 as Jake Hand scored the prettiest goal of the night as he was able to dance around an Express defenceman and score. Hand wasn't done there as he added his second of the period 3:30 later on the power play as his wrist shot from the left circle found the back of the net. The shot may have hit some of the traffic in front of the Express net. When all was said and done it was a 4-0 Chiefs first period lead in a span of 6:52. For as much it was a tough first period for Braden Krogfoss, he deserves recognition for shutting the door in the final two periods to give his team a chance to try and claw back into the game. He's had a very strong finish to the season allowing Head Coach Barry Wolff to split his goaltending duties pretty equally in the final month or so to make sure stater Chris Tai is fresh after a pretty heavy workload after first coming to the Express from the AJHL. The second period the Express did their best looking to try and claw into the deficit. It was clear in the first few shifts there was a concerted effort to help set up Brett Supinski to help him pull closer to the milestones he's trying to achieve. His best chance came in the second as he cut to the net and just slid the puck past the far post. The top line was unable to hit the scoresheet Friday night. Taylor Green got the Express on the board as Daniell Lange and Colton Kerfoot teamed up to set up Green who scored his 4th of the season with a wrist shot over the glove of Pelino. The line of Michael Merulla, Owen Stout and Brendan Gulka has been providing a nice touch of secondary scoring to the Express attack recently. The latter two teamed up to set up Daniell Lange three minutes into the third period to cut the deficit to two. The assists extended point streaks to five games for both Stout and Gulka with two goals and four assist each in that time. With plenty of time left on the clock I at least had the thought that there was plenty of time left for the big guns to do their thing and take over the game to help mount an Express comeback. It wasn't meant to be as Pelino shut the door the rest of the way to finish with 29 saves to post the win. Jake Larson was credited with an empty net goal after the final horn had sounded but it was just one final detail in the Chiefs victory. The regular season comes to an end Saturday night in Chilliwack with one final head to head meeting before the teams do it with bigger stakes at hand in the first round. Get ready folks the Express and Chiefs are going to get very familiar with one another with possibly up to 9 consecutive meetings on the horizon. This is the first playoff meeting between the teams since 2007 when the Express and Chiefs met in the playoffs in the first six seasons of the Express existence with the Express based in Coquitlam and Burnaby. And the Chiefs residing in Chilliwack and Langley. The Chiefs won the first four meetings from 02-05 with the latter three being decided in 7 games. The Express took the last two playoff match ups between the two teams winning in 5 games in 2006 and in the 7th game in overtime the next year. Those historical facts don't mean a thing to the players or coaches especially when the puck drops Tuesday. It only gives me something to talk about.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MACKIN, SUPINSKI, FRITZ SWEEP BCHL AWARD NOMNIEES FOR MAINLAND DIVISION

After a round of online polls done by the head coaches, the BCHL is announcing this season’s finalists for the league awards.

The coaches poll determined a finalist from each division. Another poll is currently underway which will determine the ultimate winner for each award.

Unlike past seasons when there was a winner from each conference for each award, there will be just one winner per award as the league is currently aligned into three divisions.

The trophy winners will be announced next week just ahead of the start of the playoffs.

Vern Dye Memorial Trophy (MVP):

Interior: Jake Lucchini – Forward – Trail Smoke Eaters
Mainland: Corey Mackin – Forward – Coquitlam Express
Island: Guillaume Decelles – Goaltender – Nanaimo Clippers

Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year):

Interior: Liam Finlay – Forward – Vernon Vipers
Mainland: Brett Supinski – Forward – Coquitlam Express 
Island: Brett Gruber – Forward – Victoria Grizzlies

Top Defenceman Award:

Interior: Andrew Farny – Salmon Arm Silverbacks 
Mainland: Daniel Fritz – Coquitlam Express
Island: Kurt Gosselin – Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Bob Fenton Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike):

Interior: John Schiavo – Forward – Merritt Centennials
Mainland: Corey Mackin – Forward – Coquitlam Express 
Island: Sean Harrison – Forward – Cowichan Valley Capitals

Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year):

Interior: Fred Harbinson – Penticton Vees
Mainland: Jason Tatarnic – Chilliwack Chiefs Island:
Mike Vandekamp – Nanaimo Clippers

The league’s non-voting awards (Top Goaltender, Goalie Tandem and Top Scorer) will be included in the release next week with the voting awards.