If Chilliwack Chiefs general manager Harvey Smyl needed any extra motivation to be active at this week’s CJHL trade deadline, two weekend losses might have provided it. The Chiefs lost 6-2 to the league leading Penticton Vees Friday night and followed that with a 3-1 loss to the Coastal conference leading Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night.
Now mired in a five game losing skid (including 0-4 since Christmas), the Chiefs are losing ground in the Interior conference playoff race, and a shakeup might be needed.
Following a scoreless first period, the Caps opened the scoring in Saturday night’s tilt on a second period power play, with Matt Brown pulling the trigger on his team leading 26th of the year.
With Chilliwack’s David Thompson serving two minutes for high sticking, Cowichan Valley threw the puck around until it ended up on Brown’s stick at the bottom of the right faceoff circle. The Nova Scotia native put put a sharp-angle wrister up and over Chiefs goaltender Bryton Udy, sending the Caps to the third with a 1-0 lead.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes were dead even at 21-21.
The Chiefs had their work cut out for them in the final frame, trying to tie it up against a stingy and disciplined Cowichan Valley team.
The Caps went into lockdown mode, but still managed to double their lead at 6:31 on a goal by recent trade acquisition Brett Knowles. Devin Gannon earned the first assist with a shot from the slot. Udy couldn’t smother the puck, leaving a goal-mouth rebound for Knowles. The ex-Salmon Arm Silverback popped the loose puck into the net for his 11th of the year.
When Gannon went to the penalty box for interference at 10:12, it was a must-score power play situation for the Chiefs.
They came through on a goal by rookie Garrett Forster, who snuck down from the point and buried a backhand feed from Derek Huisman. Forster’s fifth of the year, and second in as many games, gave Chilliwack renewed hope.
Chilliwack’s best chance to tie came moments later as Huisman sent linemate Malcolm Gould in alone on Cowichan Valley keeper Brady Rouleau. But the puck rolled off Gould’s stick before he could get a shot off.
With 2:21 remaining, the Caps got the insurance marker they needed on a goal that Udy would most definitely want back. Logan Proulx got his sixth of the year on a shot from the left wing boards, 15 feet inside the Chilliwack blueline. The puck snuck under Udy’s left arm, eliciting groans from the 2,208 in attendance.
The Chiefs netminder came to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:34 remaining, but the closest Chilliwack came was a Spencer Graboski shot that was called no-goal, but may have crossed the goal-line.
The three stars were Knowles (first), Graboski (Chilliwack, second) and Brown (third).
Chilliwack’s next home game is Jan. 13 versus the Prince George Spruce Kings.