Fortunes change quickly in the Western Hockey League, as the Bruins have rediscovered the last two nights. Coming off a three-wins-in-four-games road trip, the good guys probably felt pretty good coming into this weekend.
And then, boom!
A 4-3 loss to Everett Friday night took some wind out of the sails, leading into an even more distressing game Saturday night in Kelowna. Facing the surging Rockets (three straight wins coming in), Chilliwack dropped a 9-3 decision, matching a franchise record for most goals against in one regular season game.
Things went south from the opening whistle, and the Bruins found themselves down 3-0 before the game was 12 minutes old. Tyson Barrie broke the ice at 5:55 with a power play goal. With Chilliwack’s Steven Hodges serving two minutes for roughing, the reigning Western Hockey League defenceman of the year dropped a bomb from the point, blowing the puck past Bruin netminder Lucas Gore for his third of the year.
Less than two minutes later, a Mitchell Callahan shot pinballed off Chilliwack blueliner Jesse Pauls and in to give Kelowna a two goal lead. Abbotsford native Geordie Wudrick pushed the advantage to 3-0 with a shorthanded tally at 11:33.
The Bruins got back into it briefly with two goals in 13 seconds.
Kevin Sundher got the Chilliwack on the board at 14:06, picking up the rebound of a Brandon Magee shot and going top-shelf blocker-side on Kelowna keeper Adam Brown. While that goal was still being announced in the building, Brandon Manning notched his seventh of the season to pull his team to within one.
But Kelowna had the last laugh in period one.
Shane McColgan’s sixth of the year sent the Rockets into the break with a 4-2 lead and chased Gore from the Chilliwack net. After giving up four goals on 11 shots, he was replaced by backup Braden Gamble.
Kelowna’s power play was lethal in this one, going four for six against a normally stout Bruins penalty killing unit.
The Rockets got their fifth goal with the man advantage when Spencer Main knocked in a centering pass from Minnesota Wild prospect Brett Bulmer. Kelowna’s sixth came on another power play, with 16-year-old rookie Damon Severson sneaking in from the point to notch his second of the season.
Whatever their offensive and defensive problems, the Bruins did bring a physical edge to the middle frame. Tim Traber lowered the boom on Callahan and then went toe-to-toe with Rockets D-man Kevin Smith. Later in the period, Blair Wentworth ran over Colton Jobke and then beat Barrie in a spirited scrap.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Kelowna 19-14.
The Rockets out-scored the Bruins 3-1 in the final frame. Wudrick scored twice to notch the hat-trick, and Severson added his second of the game for the Rockets.
T.C. Cratsenberg replied for Chilliwack, netting his first of the season and first of his WHL career.
Three stars were Barrie (first), Callahan (second) and Wudrick (third).
The Bruins have two days to think about this before getting back in the saddle. Chilliwack hosts the Edmonton Oil Kings Tuesday night at Prospera Centre. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m.