Tonight – Chilliwack Chiefs (42-13-1-0) at Prince George Spruce Kings (37-13-1-5)
7 p.m. at Rolling Mix Concrete Arena in Prince George
Presented by the BCIHL
Tonight is the seventh of eight meetings this year between the teams and the season series is tied at three wins apiece. They will finish off the season like they started it, with back-to-back games in Prince George. The Spruce Kings outscored the Chiefs by a combined score of 7-2 as they won the first two matchups on the opening weekend of the season, but Chilliwack replied with a 3-2 shootout win at home on Nov. 23. The following night, Prince George took a 6-3 decision, but it’s been the Chiefs who have won the last two, 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 13 and most recently a 2-1 win last Sunday which clinched the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy for the top team in the BCHL standings.
Prince George’s Dustin Manz comes into tonight with points in seven straight games. He has four goals and nine assists for 13 points over that stretch. Manz is the Spruce Kings leading scorer and also tied for fourth overall in the BCHL with 68 points (31 goals, 37 assists) in 56 games. His teammate Ben Brar is tied for the fourth-most goals in the league with 33 and is also tied for 12th in scoring with 59 points in 56 games. On the back-end Nick Bochen is tied for eighth in scoring among all BCHL blueliners with 38 points (eight goals, 30 assists) in 55 games. In the crease, Logan Neaton leads the league in wins (31) and goals-against average (1.90) and has the fourth-highest save percentage (.916).
Chiefs forward Matt Holmes is riding a five-game point streak with seven points over that span, but it will not get any longer as he and seven other regulars will be sitting out this weekend’s games since their team has already clinched first place in the overall standings. Other players sitting out this weekend’s games are Kevin Wall, Cole Donhauser, Brett Willits, Skyler Brind’Amour, Marcus Tesink, Mitch Andres and goaltender Daniel Chenard will backup. Holmes is currently tied for fourth in BCHL scoring and will finish the season with 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists) in 54 games, while Wall is seventh in league scoring and will finish with 64 points (31 goals, 33 assists) in 49 games. Chilliwack’s Harrison Blaisdell is also in the top-20 in league scoring with 58 points (33 goals, 25 assists) in 51 games and is expected to dress for tonight’s game. Since returning from injury in December, Chiefs goalie Daniel Chenard has a 13-5-0 record, a.913 save percentage and a 2.70 goals-against average.
What’s at Stake
With their win over the Spruce Kings last Sunday, the Chiefs clinched first place in the Mainland Division as well as the overall BCHL standings, which means Prince George will finish second. With the Langley Rivermen still having a chance to catch the Coquitlam Express for third place in the division, the teams will have to wait until the weekend to see who is playing who in the first round of the Fred Page Cup playoffs.
From the Broadcast Booth
Chilliwack Chiefs play-by-play broadcaster Vanni DeBartolo on the Chiefs capturing the Ron Boileau Memorial trophy:
“It was certainly another feather in the cap being able to capture the prize as the league’s top team and secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. It’s a testament to everyone involved in the organization. The players bought into the system from day one and learned the ropes of what it takes to become a Chief.”
DeBartolo on what tonight’s game will look like with eight Chiefs regulars sitting out:
“They will have six AP players in the lineup this weekend. It gives them an opportunity to see what these young kids can bring to the table for next season.”
DeBartolo on the strong play of Daniel Chenard since returning from injury midseason:
“Chenard has been lights out. Plain and simple. He’s actually returned and been much better and stronger from the form he had when he led the Chiefs to a National Championship last year. He was named the goaltender of the tournament and we are seeing that same shut-down form again now, which is exactly what you need to go deep in the playoffs. Unfortunately for fans in PG this weekend they won’t see him in action.”
Prince George Spruce Kings play-by-play broadcaster Brendan Pawliw on the season series between the teams so far:
“Both teams are so evenly matched based on their talent level, every game has been close and that’s the way it should this time of year”
Pawliw on the importance of finishing the season on a winning note:
“I would think the Spruce Kings would want to sweep both games regardless of what the Chiefs do with their lineup. It’s always good to go into the playoffs on a high.”
Pawliw on the play of Spruce Kings’ leading scorer Dustin Manz:
“The whole line of Manz, Patrick Cozzi and Ben Brar have been all-world this year. Manz was named the team’s regular-season MVP last week. He works hard in the gym and it shows up on the ice with how dominant he is.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes five member teams: Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.