Just when it looked like the Chilliwack Chiefs were getting it together and climbing out of their early-season hole, they fell back in.
The Chiefs won three in a row last weekend and felt pretty good.
But a 3-2 loss to Langley tempered their enthusiasm. They lost 7-2 to the Merritt Centennials at home Friday night, then dropped a 3-2 decision Saturday night in Merritt.
And Sunday, facing a road-weary and not-so-good Alberni Valley Bulldogs (4-14-2-1) squad at Prospera Centre, the Chiefs laid another egg in a 8-5 loss.
The Chiefs are now 4-13-1-2.
Tryg Strand got the scoring started four minutes into this one. Darian Henry got the assist, firing a shot from the right faceoff dot. Chiefs goaltender Lyndon Stanwood made the stop, but the puck dropped into the blue paint where Strand knocked it in for his team-leading ninth of the year.
The Bulldogs went up two-donut at 9:41 on a snipe by Zach Funk. Garrett Halls got the helper. The Courtenay native had Chiefs D-man Cooper Rush all over him in the right-wing corner. But he got his stick free, making a strong centering pass through the legs of the Chilliwack blueliner.
Funk went to the net, fighting off two Chief checkers to rifle the puck past Stanwood.
That briefly woke up the home team, and Chilliwack spent the rest of period one buzzing the Alberni Valley net.
Mathieu Tibbet and Andrew Silard had back-to-back breakaways thwarted by Bulldog keeper Connor LaCouvee, and Austin Plevy hit the right goal post on a hot shot from the wing. Alberni Valley withstood the siege, regrouped in the locker room, then added to their lead in the first minute of period two.
Again, it was Strand doing the damage.
Again, the big man crashed the net, this time banging home the rebound from a Ryan Buse shot.
The Chiefs took less than a minute to answer back on a goal by Plevy.
Linemates Zach Diamantoni and Blake Gober drew the assists — Diamantoni feeding Gober, who threw a pass across the slot to Plevy. The Langley native had a gaping net to shoot at, getting his third of the year at 1:36.
The Chiefs got within one at 3:23 on a goal by Jacob Hand.
Ben Butcher threw the puck on net from the left-wing boards. Hand and Tibbet both crashed the net, with Hand getting the last poke before it crossed the line.
But instead of being energized, the Chiefs inexplicably wilted over the next 10 minutes, letting the Bulldogs restore their two goal lead. Alberni Valley D-man Brodie Clowes rifled a slapper from the right point. Stanwood kicked out another rebound, and Hunter Stewart buried it for his sixth of the season.
Chilliwack looked to be in capital-B big trouble until the final minute of the middle frame.
With 29 ticks on the clock, Plevy collected a Diamantoni pass in the slot and snapped a shot off the left post and in.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Alberni Valley 29-23, but the Chiefs were within one with 20 minutes to go.
They were back in a two goal hole just 3:14 into the final frame, after a goal by Justin Georgeson. Stewart set this one up, fighting off a Rush check behind the Chilliwack net before making a backhand centering pass through the D-man’s legs.
Georgeson one-timed the puck past Stanwood for his fifth of the year.
Plevy’s got his hat-trick goal at 8:34, cleaning up the rebound of a Shay Laurent point shot on a Chilliwack power play.
But less than two minutes later, Bowles cut across the goal-mouth, sliding the puck past sprawling Stanwood for the sixth Bulldog goal.
The final Chilliwack goal came with 6:30 left.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A player, Tibbet, fired a puck on net. The goalie, LaCouvee, spat out a rebound and another player, Carter Cochrane, buried it.
The rookie’s seventh of the year got the Chiefs within one with 3:30 to go.
But the Bulldogs finally put it away at 17:50. Harlan Orr flew down the right wing on a two-on-one, electing to shoot. He beat Stanwood clean from 20 feet out.
Stewart scored an empty netter at 18:25 to wrap up the scoring.
Announced attendance was 1,722.
The three stars were Strand (first), Plevy (second) and Gober (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Diamantoni.