Hammered by injuries and suspensions, the Chilliwack Chiefs are limping into the Christmas break.
But despite missing several key players, the junior A club continues to get results.
Chilliwack split a pair of weekend games against Cowichan Valley and Langley, leaving just two more games before they get a well-deserved rest.
The locals opened the weekend with a 4-1 home-ice loss to the Cowichan Valley Capitals Friday (Dec. 11) at the Chilliwack Coliseum. It was an off night for the normally-dependable Chiefs’ penalty killers, who yielded three power play goals on seven kills.
Cowichan’s Aidan Cobb opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period and the Caps added two more PP goals in the third. The final Cowichan goal was an empty netter, scored by Massimo Sarantos Lombardi after Chilliwack goalie Grant Riley was pulled for an extra attacker.
Kienan Draper scored the lone Chiefs goal in the second period.
On paper, losing to the Caps, who are last in the nine-team Coastal Conference with a record of 6-17-0-1, seems bad. But Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney said they’re better than their record.
“Cowichan Valley is actually a good team that will beat a lot of teams in the second half,” Maloney said. “And right now, with a bunch of injuries and suspensions, our kids are playing way too many minutes and making a lot of tired mental errors.”
The Chiefs had a nice bounce back effort Saturday, beating the Coastal Conference leading Langley Rivermen (15-5-1-2) 4-1 at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
It was the second straight win over Langley after dropping three to the Rivermen earlier this season, and it was another convincing victory.
Chilliwack out-shot their rivals 29-17 and got goals from Xavier Henry, Frankie Carogioiello, Brady Milburn and AJ Lacroix.
“We had our legs,” Maloney said of the impressive turnaround from the Cowichan loss. “It’s a weird one to explain as a coach because sometimes we have our legs and sometimes we don’t.”
Chilliwack skates out of the weekend with a record of 12-7-0-1.
Points-wise, they’re fifth in the Coastal Conference, but because of the recent flooding they’ve also played fewer games than anyone else.
They’re eight points back of Langley for top spot, but Chilliwack holds three games in hand. The Chiefs have the third best win percentage in the Coastal Conference at .625, surpassed only by Nanaimo at .667 and Langley at .717.
Chilliwack finishes the pre-Christmas slate with two more home dates.
They host the Coquitlam Express Friday (Dec. 17) at the Chilliwack Coliseum and welcome the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday (Dec. 18).
Both games start at 7 p.m.
The Express are 6-13-1-2, eighth in the Coastal Conference, while the Bulldogs are 12-8-3-0 and hold down third place.