The Jiffy Lube Bantam T1 Chiefs were in action this past weekend for their first exhibition games of the minor hockey season and followed up a loss in Alberni with a win at home against Oceanside.
According to head coach Sean Toal, the weekend was a useful exercise in evaluating the talent on this year’s squad. “Our goal was to see how our players would perform in game situations. While you get a sense of a player’s ability in tryouts, there’s nothing like throwing on your Chiefs jersey, buckling up your helmet, and competing against neighbouring communities,” said Toal.
On Saturday, the Chiefs travelled to Alberni for a game against the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs already had played Oceanside and Nanaimo and, as expected, this early season experience allowed them to control the play early.
The Chiefs struggled to find the pace in the first 10 minutes and as a result gave up a number of turnovers. Solid goaltending by Blayre Paddock kept the Bulldogs at bay and allowed the Chiefs to settle down and play a more physical brand of hockey that allowed them to control the play.
After the Bulldogs scored on a two-man advantage, newcomer Mack Christenson replied for the Chiefs on a gritty effort. Penalties continued to plague the Chiefs and Alberni capitalized on their third 5-on-3 advantage to take a 2-1 lead. They added another power-play marker in the third to make the final 3-1.
Chiefs’ assistant coach Jordan Butcher was pleased with how the game progressed. “After a slow start, we really began to control the play. Despite having to kill a number of penalties, our kids really rallied and tried to mount a comeback. At this stage of the year, that is an encouraging sign,” said Butcher.
On Sunday, it was the Chiefs who came out to a strong start and showed the coaching staff that when their effort is present, and they take care of the little things in the game, they will be rewarded.
Riding a first-period hat trick by Caleb Doleman, the Chiefs jumped out to a 5-1 first period lead against the Oceanside Generals. The Generals added one in the second and another in the final minute to make the final 5-3 for the Chiefs. “The score did not indicate the type of game it was,” said Butcher. “We were the better team from start to finish, and the score probably makes it seem closer than it really was.”
Assistant coach Steve Brown liked the play of the defence where newcomer, Kolby Antonelli along with Beckham Willis and Logan Cursley made things difficult for the Generals forwards with their physical presence in the defensive zone.
“We are starting to forge our identity as a team, and with hard work, we will be tough to play against. Oceanside probably had more skill than us overall, but our effort allowed us to keep control of the game.”
Toal was pleased with what he saw this weekend and commented: “This is a great first step for us, and if we continue to improve each game the way we did this weekend, we will have some good results. We still have a lot of work to do, but our staff believes that we have a solid foundation to build upon.”
The Bantam T1 Chiefs begin their placement round games this weekend with a game on Saturday in Peninsula. The T2 team enjoyed a 5-0 win against Alberni T3 on Saturday and plays placement games against Nanaimo T3 and Cowichan T2 this upcoming weekend. Both teams urge fans to come out and enjoy some great hockey this season and support our players.
– Jiffy Lube Bantam T1 Chiefs