The Chilliwack Bruins ran into a grumpy Vancouver Giants squad at Prospera Centre Sunday night, dropping a 6-0 home-ice decision to their B.C. division rivals.
The Giants came into the game mired in a season-high four-game losing skid and took out all their frustration on the Bruins. Mark Segal stopped 24 shots, shutting out the Bruins for the second time in his young career, and James Henry added a pair of goals to lead the Vancouver offence.
Chilliwack played a surprisingly stout first period in this one, and probably deserved a better fate than they got.
The Bruins got their best scoring chances on a power play midway through the opening frame. With Brendan Gallagher off for roughing, Jamie Crooks had three great opportunities to open the scoring. Linemate Kevin Sundher found him standing all alone to the right of the Vancouver net, but Giants keeper Mark Segal came up with a huge blocker stop. Seconds later, Crooks had the puck in the exact same spot, but bypassed the shot to try an unsuccessful cross-crease pass to Dylen McKinlay. Seconds after that, Crooks took a Brandon Manning stretch pass in the neutral zone and came in alone on Segal, only to have his backhand shot slide inches wide of the right goal post.
On the same power play, Colton Grant had a chance from three feet out, but Segal snapped the five-hole shut to keep the game scoreless.
The Bruins went back to the power play moments later when Brett Lyon tripped up Kevin Sundher in the neutral zone, but it was the Giants who took advantage with a short-handed goal.
Gallagher chased a loose puck behind the Chilliwack net, drawing Bruin defenders Jesse Craige and Brandon Manning with him. Gallagher came away with the puck and found James Henry uncovered in front. Gore got a piece of Henry’s shot, but not enough as the puck slowly dribbled across the goal line.
Chilliwack out-shot Vancouver 13-6 through 20 minutes, but trailed 1-0 thanks to Henry’s 21st of the season.
The second period was a dismal one for the Bruins as the Giants found their skating legs and started to dominate. Vancouver went up 2-0 on another Henry tally five and a half minutes in. The line of Henry, Tomas Vincour and Milan Kytnar spent a good minute buzzing around the Chilliwack zone. At the end of the shift, Kytnar circled out of the left corner, dropping a pass to Vincour who fed a cross-crease pass to Henry for the tap-in.
Just over one minute later, Vincour forced Sundher to turn back in the neutral zone and hounded him all the way back behind the Chilliwack goal-line. The Czech finally forced Sundher to cough up the puck and fed it to James Wright, who slipped a backhander past Gore for his fifth of the season.
Kytner added his 12th of the season at 17:33, sending Vancouver into the third period with an insurmountable four-goal lead. Shots on goal in the second period were 11-5 in favour of the Giants.
Braden Gamble took over in net for Chilliwack to start the third.
Shayne Neigum and James Wright got the final frame off to a pugilistic start 1:08 in, dropping the mitts at center ice for a spirited scrap. Neigum got the worst of a brief second period scrap with Nolan Toigo, and didn’t fare exceptionally well against Wright either. But give the veteran points for trying.
Following Neigum’s lead, 16-year-old rookie Tim Traber came out for his next shift and took two healthy runs at Toigo, twice stapling him into the boards in the Vancouver zone.
The Giants offence continued to pour it on late in the game, adding a pair of strikes midway through period three. Connor Redmond notched his fifth of the season, tipping a Henry centering pass past Gamble at 9:50. Gallagher wrapped up the scoring 52 seconds later with his 39th of the season.
The Bruins have a good shot at a bouncing back when they travel north to play the woeful Prince George Cougars Tuesday and Wednesday night. Prince George sports the Western Hockey League’s worst record, by far, sitting at 11-53-1-2 through 67 games.
Chilliwack’s next home game is Friday night at 7 p.m. versus the Portland Winter Hawks.
– With two fights against Vancouver, Shayne Neigum moved into top spot on the all-time Chilliwack Bruins fight list. The Kindersley native has 15 scraps in a Bruins uni, passing teammate Tyler Stahl and former Bruins Scott Ramsay and Myles Stoesz, all of whom have or had 13 apiece.
– Three stars were James Henry (first), Tomas Vincour (second) and Mark Segal (third).