Garrett James Photography

Chiefs look for better second half

The Chilliwack Chiefs look to try and catch the first place Coquitlam Express in the Mainland Division. Currently, the Express hold a sizable lead on the Chiefs so it will be a very tough test for Chilliwack to retain its Mainland crown. Since their big win over the Vees in Penticton on Nov. 22, the Chiefs have been playing .600 hockey. After Penticton, the Chiefs went in to trail the next night and lost 4-1. The Chiefs then headed home for a quick stop and beat the Powell River Kings 3-2 in a thrilling OT game only to go into the den of the mighty Express a day later and lose 3-2 in a shootout.

Chilliwack opened December with a trip up north for the final time in the regular season to play the Prince George Spruce Kings and won the two game set 3-2 and 5-3 respectively. The Chiefs came home to face the Smokies again, this time coming out on top 4-1.  The Chiefs then had five days off before taking on the Langley Rivermen in their annual teddy bear and toque toss on Dec. 13. Kyle Penney got the teddy bear goal short handed with three seconds left in the first, but the Chiefs lost 4-2.

As the Chiefs tough first half schedule came to a close, they headed out to Alberni Valley for their final trip to the Island. Chilliwack won 6-4 and get its third win over the Bulldogs this season. The next day the Chiefs took on the Grizzlies in Victoria and dropped the game 4-3.

Chilliwack’s tough schedule continued as the Chiefs had one day off before heading up to West Kelowna this past Tuesday to play the Warriors. It’s the first time Tyler Cristall played against his former team since being traded from Chilliwack to West K last month. The first period saw Brett Willits get his 11th of the year from Penney and Trevor Adams. The Chiefs notched their second of the game three minutes later when Adams got his eighth from Hudson Thornton and Brett Rylance on the man advantage.

The Warriors got on the board when Cristall scored his seventh from Wyatt Head and Nicolas Ardanaz on a power play. Chilliwack got their two goal lead back when Tommy Lyons notched his seventh from Peter Reynolds and Nikita Nesterenko 50 seconds later. West Kelowna got back within one when Max Bulawka scored his 11th from Head and Deegan Mofford. The Chiefs also lost both Garrett Valk and Xavier Henry to 10 minute misconducts, which put them down to four defencemen to start the second period.

There was no scoring in the second period. The Chiefs had two opportunities on the power play but to no avail. The third saw some chippy action with Davis Murray getting two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, five minutes for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct and less then a minute later, Clark Nelson was also assessed a misconduct, which put the Chiefs down to 16 skaters. West Kelowna tied the game on the power play after Adams was given two minutes for interference. Ardanaz got his second of the season from Andrew Viggars to send the game to overtime.

Viggars scored his second to win it for the Warriors 1:21 into overtime. Mathieu Caron took the loss, stopping 25 shots. Johnny Derrick kicked out all 28 shots he faced in relief for Brock Baier, who was pulled 15 minutes into the first period after allowing three goals on nine shots.

The Chiefs go into the Chirstmas break 18 points back of Coquitlam for first in the Mainland Division. Chilliwack should get a boost when it gets both Ethan Bowen and Joey Larson back from injury. The Chiefs  have an opportunity to get four points back on the Express after the break with a home and home on December 28th and 29th against Coquitlam.