The road-weary Chilliwack Bruins finally returned to home ice Friday night, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Everett Silvertips.
After taking three of four on a road trip through the Central division, the Bruins tried hard but had the look of a team running on fumes.
The good guys were sluggish from the start, struggling against a fast and aggressive Everett squad. Slow feet led to penalty trouble, and a penalty led to the first Silvertips goal four minutes and 50 seconds in. With Brandon Magee banished to the sin bin for tripping and Everett working a five-on-four power play, Kellan Tochkin walked out of the left corner and wired a shot top shelf blocker-side on Bruins netminder Lucas Gore.
Gore gave the Vancouver Canucks prospect a mere sliver of daylight to shoot at, but Tochkin hit the target, taking advantage of a partial screen from Chilliwack defenceman Tyler Stahl. Shots on goal were 9-2 in favour of the Tips at that point, and the Bruins were lucky to only be down one.
Abbotsford native Clayton Cumiskey should have had a goal on a cross-crease pass from Josh Winquist. But he fanned on the tap-in, missing a wide-open cage. Seconds later, Gore stretched out to thwart Markus McCrea on a good chance in tight.
Desperately needing a change in momentum, the Bruins got a gift when Rasmus Rissanen dumped Blair Wentworth behind the Everett net. Chilliwack’s league-leading power play, operating at 31 per cent efficiency this season, took 61 seconds to cash in on a goal by Ryan Howse. Jesse Pauls started the play with a cross-ice pass to Roman Horak. The Czech’s shot was blocked, but the puck squirted over to Howse. With Everett tender Kent Simpson on the ice, the pride of Prince George went roof for his team-leading 16th of the season.
Everett regained the lead just 47 seconds into period two on a goal Gore would undoubtedly want back. Tyler Maxwell pulled the trigger, firing a shot from the very high slot that squeaked under Gore’s arm. Tochkin drew the lone assist on Maxwell’s 13th of the season.
Chilliwack generated next to nothing five-on-five, and relied on another power play to draw even late in the middle frame.
Again, it was Wentworth drawing the penalty, a two-minute tripping minor to Nick Walters.
On the man advantage, Jamie Crooks took a Kevin Sundher pass on the baseline and caught Simpson cheating off the goal post. Crooks threaded the needle for his fifth of the season, sending the Bruins and Tips to the third knotted at 2-2.
Shots on goal were dead even at 18-18.
Everett surged ahead for good 2:20 into period three on a goal by Winquist. Cumiskey did the spade work, driving to the net and taking Gore out of position with a backhand shot. Winquist had nothing but net to shoot at, burying his second of the season to put the Tips on top 3-2.
Things could have been a lot worse if not for a heroic penalty kill by Horak, Howse and newcomer Curt Gogol. At a crucial moment in the game, the trio expertly killed off a five-on-three power play of 1:24 (Tim Traber for interference and Brandon Manning for delay of game), keeping their team in the game.
But it was all for naught. Chilliwack’s offence continued to sputter, and Simpson was there to shut the door on sporadic scoring chances. With 3:47 remaining, Everett iced the game. Landon Ferraro hounded Robin Soudek into a turnover at the Bruins blueline, moving the puck quickly to Maxwell. In alone on Gore, the 19-year-old went to the backhand for the valuable insurance goal.
Brandon Magee scored with one second left to wrap up the scoring.
Three stars were Simpson (first), Maxwell (second) and Sundher (third).
Chilliwack is back in action Tuesday night, hosting the Edmonton Oil Kings at Prospera Centre.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.