Ryan Howse scored his league-leading 10th goal of the season 1:22 into overtime as the Chilliwack Bruins downed the Everett Silvertips in Everett Wednesday night.
Bruins goaltender Lucas Gore helped the cause, stopping 42 of 45 shots. The Bruins snapped a two-game losing skid and moved a game above .500 at 4-3-0-0.
Chilliwack head coach Marc Habscheid shuffled the deck heading into this one, trying to find the secondary scoring that has been missing so far this season.
The first line of Roman Horak between Ryan Howse and Robin Soudek remained intact.
Howse and the Czechs have contributed 18 of 26 goals scored by the Bruins this year, accounting for 69 per cent of Chilliwack’s offence.
No reason to split them up.
But the second line has been a sore spot, with Kevin Sundher, Jamie Crooks and Dylen McKinlay scoring two goals between them.
On Wednesday night, Sundher and McKinlay skated with rookie Brandon Magee, while Jamie Crooks was bumped down to the third line, playing with Chris Collins and Mike Forsyth.
“Howser and Horak aren’t going to be able to do it for us all year,” McKinlay said, acknowledging the problem. “Both of them are probably gone at Christmas for the World Junior tournament, and we’ll need to step up with some scoring.”
The thing is, McKinlay is a known quantity.
He had 20 goals last year.
Crooks had 21 and Sundher 25.
They know they can score and head coach Marc Habscheid knows they can score. For whatever reason, the pucks aren’t going in.
“We’re trying our best to work out of it, but things aren’t going our way,” McKinlay said. “Little things, bounces and stuff, they just aren’t going our way. The hockey gods aren’t on our side right now.”
Psychologically, the trio would probably be well served to relax and stopped pressing so hard. But expectations are high, and the pressure to produce weighs on them.
“We’re feeling pressure, and that probably leads to us holding our sticks a little too tight,” McKinlay conceded. “I think we need to simplify our game, get back to having fun and doing the little things that made us good last year.”
All three players picked up assists Wednesday night, but it was the usual suspects doing most of the damage.
Soudek opened the scoring at 9:06 of the first period, notching his second of the year on a Bruins power play. Mike Forsyth picked up his first WHL goal midway through period two, and Brandon Manning scored the third Chilliwack goal midway through period three.
Howse’s game winner extended his points streak to seven games, with at least one goal or assist in every game he’s played in this season.
Goaltender Lucas Gore was deservedly named the game’s first star, turning in a 42 saves on 45 shots effort to steal a win for Chilliwack.
Cody Fowlie, Landon Ferraro and Brennan Yadlowski scored for Everrett.
McKinlay and the Bruins have a huge weekend ahead of them as they host the Kelowna Rockets (tonight) and the Vancouver Giants (tomorrow).
“Kelowna is a team that is struggling right now (2-5-0-0), but they’ve had success against us and they’ll come in confident,” McKinlay said. “We just need to realize how important these points are. They’re must wins if we expect a division title this year.”
Tonight’s game is a 7:30 p.m. start at Prospera Centre.