After posting back to back shutouts for the Chilliwack Chiefs in early November, all Grant Riley wanted to do was get back on the ice and keep the ball rolling.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Rain brought flooding and flooding cancelled two BCHL games last weekend.
Chilliwack’s first-year netminder finally returns to the crease Wednesday night (Nov. 24) in a home game against Powell River, hoping to pick up where he left off. He’ll be helped greatly if the team in front of him performs as well as they have in his last three starts (2-1, 5-0 and 3-0 wins)
“Limiting those high quality chances against and giving me things I can see, I think our D zone play has improved quite a bit from where we started in October,” the 19-year-old said. “We haven’t seen as many odd-man rushes or breakaways, which makes life easier on me. Then it’s up to me to make those saves I should make.”
One of the first lessons the New York product learned when he arrived in September is that BCHL shooters are creative. They will wait an extra split second, make the extra play and make a perfect shot.
Patience has been the key to his recent success, that and his improving ability to stay ahead of the play.”
“Two things, and if I’m not doing those two things it’s usually a goal against,” he said. “If I keep those under control, I’m most likely going to be successful. It’s all about holding your feet as long as possible and understanding the threats around the ice. The back-door play. The high tip. Things like that. And ultimately being square to the puck. It’s as simple as that.”
Even talking about hockey seems a little weird right now, with all that’s going on.
Rallying to help his adopted community, Riley and his Chiefs teammates fanned out in Chilliwack last week, chipping in where they could. The teenager found himself on a farm, cleaning out stables for horses. Other guys went to the Salvation Army, and as a group they joined forces with Chilliwack Minor Hockey for a two-night donation drive at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
“I thought we really stepped up and took care of people who needed our help,” he said. “We were a little scared for one of our coaches (Brad Rihela) and two of our teammates (Cole Savage and Dawson Good) who were in Abbotsford during the worst of the flooding, but we just tried to keep even keeled and do what we could to help.”
Hailing from Rochester, New York, the worst weather event Riley had experienced before this was a blizzard that kept him home from school for two weeks.
“But nothing like this,” he said. “It definitely wasn’t anything we were expecting.”
The Chiefs were due to hit the road this weekend for road games at Prince George and West Kelowna, but the BCHL has postponed those matches. Instead, Chilliwack gets a home game Saturday night (7:15 p.m. start), hosting the Coquitlam Express at the Chilliwack Coliseum.