If Meatloaf was right when he sang that ‘Two out of three ain’t bad,’ then the Chilliwack Bruins are in good shape after the latest Western Hockey League weekend.
Three games in three nights ended with a thud — a 6-1 home-ice loss to the Tri-City Americans Sunday night — but the good guys scored big wins over the Kelowna Rockets on Friday (5-4) and Saturday (4-1).
They come out of the weekend sitting eighth in the Western conference standings, which is better than they sat going in.
Goaltender Lucas Gore is getting back in the zone and Ryan Howse is on a scoring tear. One loss shouldn’t wreck what has been one of the better weeks of this season.
“We had two character wins against Kelowna, and while it’s hard to think about that right now, those wins showed this team has a little more resiliency than some people thought,” Kevin Sundher said after the game. “It could have been a fantastic weekend, but you know what, two out of three against pretty good teams is not bad.”
The Bruins played defensively responsible hockey on Saturday as they disposed of the Rockets at Prospera Centre.
On Saturday the home team was a bit too sloppy against a team that feasts on mistakes.
“We didn’t have it today, and we didn’t execute nearly well enough to expect to win,” Sundher noted. “We can’t blame fatigue because they had a worse schedule this weekend than we did. It’s just unfortunate.”
Chilliwack’s first critical error was an unintentional one. Curt Gogol had his stick snap as he handled the puck, leading to a breakaway for Brendan Shinnimim.
The Manitoba native went over Gore’s glove for his 25th of the year.
Adam Hughesman struck for his 37th of the year and a 2-0 Tri-City lead, finishing off another lightning quick transition play at 9:43.
Chilliwack briefly cut into the deficit when Howse scored at 17:35.
Video review was required to determine who scored the goal, as Sundher initially appeared to get the last touch on a Roman Horak centering pass. Howse had just over a minute to celebrate his 40th of the year before Tri-City’s Carter Ashton restored the two goal lead.
This one came on a power play, with Chilliwack’s Dylen McKinlay banished to the box for tripping. Ashton parked beside the Bruin net, punching in a feed from Shinnimin.
The Bruins had their chances in a scoreless second period, including a pair of five-on-three power plays 20 and 80 seconds long. But Chilliwack couldn’t click with the man advantage, striking out on the five-on-threes and going 0-for-7 overall.
“We’ve got five forwards on our first unit and we’re all skilled players and we have to produce,” Sundher said. “We had tons of chances to change the game and we didn’t make a difference.”
Tri-City pushed the lead to 4-1 3:08 into period three on a goal by Kruise Reddick, who one-timed a feed from Jordan Messier on a two-on-one rush. Hughesman added his second of the game at 10:44 as Tri-City’s second-ranked power play went two-for-two.
David Conrad wrapped up the scoring with 5:41 remaining, roofing a beautiful shot over Gore’s left shoulder.
Gore left the net after Conrad’s tally, ending his night with 32 saves on 38 shots. Braden Gamble finished up.
Final shots on goal favoured the Ams 42-21.
The Bruins have four days of practice before heading south for three games against U.S. division opposition.
“This weekend has been a confidence builder, and now we just have to raise the bar and expect it every night,” Sundher said.