This past weekend, the Chase Heat piled onto a metal slumber canister for a tour to the south.
The road trip commenced at early dawn on Friday the 11th, the destination for the evening’s competition: Spokane, Wash. Pillows, blankets, headphones and snacks were necessary provisions for the journey, as was a pack sack full of passports –one of the most important items to allow passage through the border without walls.
The game versus the Spokane Braves was docile as both teams stuck to a display of flash and dash. The KIJHL’s third-leading scorer got the Braves on the board in less than five minutes. Mid period, Colton Nikiforuk from Gavin Mattey and Matthew Poole got the only man advantage tally of the weekend for the Heat.
In the second, Chase popped a pair, Breckin Erichuk from Caleb Biensch and Hayden Wiebe providing the helpers. Mattey from Erichuk and Wiebe got the second counter before Spokane made it 3-2 Heat.
In the third, Marino Bordin assisted by Nikiforuk, scored before the Braves got their second power-play marker. Vince Bennedetto provided solid tending, stopping the 41 of 44 attempts he faced, including a two-man short-handed breakaway that was the highlight of the contest.
The end result: a 4-3 win on the road for the HEAT.
Saturday night, the bus boys were in Fruitvale to play versus the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Chase took an early lead with Garrick Ward getting his first of the season from Wiebe and Jayden Russell. The home team popped in a man advantage tally and, after 20 minutes, it was 1-1.
In the second, the ‘Hawks scored a power-play goal and a short-handed counter to take a 3-1 lead. The short-handed goal was once again a two-man breakaway, this time Bennedetto wasn’t able to make up for his teammates’ miscue.
In the third, the teams exchanged goals with Mattey scoring, with 12 seconds left, from Corson Nordick and Erichuk.
A 4-2 loss at the hands of the top team in the Neil Murdoch Division and KIJHL. Bennedetto faced 44 shots while once again giving his team a chance to succeed.
The Heat special teams struggled over the weekend, scoring 1 power-play goal on 11 opportunities, while allowing a goal by the opposition. On the penalty kill they allowed four goals on 11 short-handed situations. After the weekend, the Heat power-play is at 18.3 per cent and the penalty kill is 80.4 per cent – disappointing considering the skill level on display. The ‘Hawks and the Braves are the top two teams in their division while the Heat is currently third in the Doug Birks Division. Beaver Valley is also the Number 1 team in the KIJHL with six straight wins.
Next on the schedule for the Heat is a Friday the 18th match-up at the Art Holding Memorial Arena versus the Kamloops Storm. Chase Minor Hockey players wearing their team jerseys will receive free admission to this game.
On Saturday the 19th, the Heat head to Revelstoke to face the Division-leading Grizzlies. The Mad Bears from the Mountain Mecca pay a return visit to the Chaos Castle in Chase on Tuesday night the 22nd.
Heat Beat: Local lad Russell Hassler is headed to Alberta to play for the Ponoka Stampeders in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League. The entire Heat organization wishes Russell the very best in all his future endeavours.
The HEAT have five players in the Top 50 scoring in the KIJHL; Nikiforuk (14), Hughes (17), Mattey (19), Erichuk (30) and Grimaud (48).
We look forward to you warming a seat at AHMA!