A banged up Chilliwack Chiefs squad dropped just their second regulation-time decision this season, falling 4-2 to Alberni Valley Saturday night.
Missing six players to injury and facing a tough Bulldog squad, the Chiefs couldn’t dig themselves out of an early hole.
Chilliwack got off to their worst start of the season in this one.
The home team was out-shot 21-12 in period one and were lucky the Bulldogs only scored once. Off a Chiefs turnover, Evan Tironese got the puck to Scott Clark who flipped a backhand pass across the high slot to Chris Schultz. The Texan hammered it home, one-timing the puck over the glove of Chilliwack netminder Aidan Pelino.
Alberni Valley kept coming in period two, scoring two goals in 10 seconds to take a 3-0 lead. Josh Adkins and Dylan Haugen did the damage, and the Chiefs were on the ropes.
But for long.
They punched their way back into this game less than a minute later, with Evan McEachern and Jake Hand scoring back to back 27 seconds apart to get their team back within one.
McEachern scored his on a rocket wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle, netting his first of the year.
Hand finished a pretty play started by Vincent Desharnais. The big D-man delivered a beautiful stretch pass up the right-wing boards to Tipper Higgins as he snuck behind the Bulldog defence. On a two-on-none break, Higgins saucered the puck across the goal-mouth to Hand, who popped it past Alberni Valley keeper Billy Christopoulos for his sixth.
Shots through 40 minutes favoured the visitors 30-22.
The Bulldogs needed an insurance goal, and got it with 8:58 to go. Defenceman Kurt Gosselin scored on an impressive solo rush. The Michigan native flew into the the Chilliwack zone, got a step on Chiefs D-man Brandon Tkachuk and cut hard to the net. As Hand knocked him to the ice, Gosselin stuffed the puck past Pelino for his third of the year.
The visitors didn’t let up for even a moment even when protecting a two-goal lead.
The stingy Bulldog D didn’t all, and Chiefs coach Jason Tatarnic boldly pulled Pelino with two minutes to play. But the Chiefs couldn’t come back, and saw their four game winning streak snapped.
The three stars were Tironese (first), Hand (second) and Christopoulos (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Luke McColgan.
Announced attendance was 2,412.
The next home game is Nov. 8 versus the Langley Rivermen.