Chilliwack, BC – The Chilliwack Chiefs got back on the winning track Wednesday night, thumping the Langley Rivermen 7-2 in a midweek matchup at Prospera Centre.
Coming off a pair of weekend losses in Wenatchee, the Chiefs dismantled the Rivermen in a dominant effort that saw seven different players light the lamp.
For the hometown crowd, five minutes of this one was more interesting than the entirety of the snoozer these teams played a week ago.
Chilliwack and Langley combined for five goals in the opening frame after producing three in 60 minutes during last Wednesday’s 2-1 Chiefs win.
The home team got the scoring started just 98 seconds in, with Kohen Olischefski netting his ninth of the year. Darien Craighead started the play at the top of the left faceoff circle, feeding a cross-ice pass to Jeremy Germain at the right faceoff dot.
Germain threw it into the goal-mouth where Olischefski popped it past Langley keeper Bo Didur.
Germain doubled Chilliwack’s lead with a power play goal at 9:35.
Taking a lead pass from Dennis Cholowski, Craighead flew down the right wing and fired a low shot. Germain collected the rebound off the leg pad of Didur and roofed the puck for his sixth of the season.
The Chiefs added another at 11:58.
The Rivermen coughed up the puck steps inside their own blueline and Olivier Arseneau poked the puck toward the net where Vimal Sukumaran was left completely uncovered. No. 11 had time to craft a cheeky finish, pulling the puck between his legs and lifting a top-shelf shot over Didur’s glove (see video below).
The veteran goalie was pulled after yielding three goals on seven shots, with Nickolas Trenciansky taking over.
The Rivermen showed a little fight late in the opening frame, sparked by a fluky goal.
With players battling below the end-line, the puck was rolling safely behind the Chilliwack net when it took a 75 degree bounce off the BMO ad and caromed into the crease. Chiefs netminder Aidan Pelino couldn’t find it before Matthew Graham, who punched it past the confused keeper at 17:12.
With just 11.7 seconds left in period one, Langley’s Dominic Franco pounced on an errant clearing attempt just inside the Chilliwack blueline and flung a shot on net. Pelino left a rebound for Justin Fregona, who sniped his team-leading 21st of the year.
The Chiefs got some breathing room back 11:24 into period two on a goal by Kale Kane. The speedster pulled away from two Langley defenders on a breakaway and went upstairs over Trenciansky’s glove for his 10th.
Chilliwack took a 5-2 lead with just .5 ticks left on the second period clock. Mitch Skapski pulled the trigger, squeaking the puck through Trenciansky as referee Nick Bilko emphatically signalled goal.
The Chiefs experienced a scary moment early in the final frame, when Jordan Kawaguchi was shoved head-first into the end-boards by Langley defenceman Jordan Schneider. The Riverman was punted from the game and booed while he went, while Captain K remained, guiding his team to the final whistle and their 25th win of the year.
Craighead scored with 10:54 remaining and Jake Smith with 26 seconds left to wrap up the scoring.
At 25-8-4-1, Chilliwack expanded its lead to four points atop the Mainland division, with the Wenatchee Wild in second. Third place Langley has slipped 10 points back, making it a two-horse race for first place.
The Chiefs return to action Saturday night, hosting the Trail Smoke Eaters (18-20-0-0) in a 7 p.m. start at Prospera Centre.
– The three stars were Germain (first), Kane (second) and Craighead (third).
– The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Skapski.