The Chilliwack Chiefs put an emphatic end to a five-game losing streak, hammering the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-2 Sunday night at Prospera Centre.
Philip Zielonka had two goals for the Chiefs, who went 17 days between victories. Chilliwack’s record improved to 28-17-1-1, good for second spot in the Mainland division.
There are just five games remaining on the regular season schedule.
This game waited 24 minutes and 29 seconds for a goal, and it was Zielonka opening the scoring for the Chiefs. On a Chilliwack power play, defenceman Ben Masella snuck down from the left point and fired a shot from the boards.
Bulldogs keeper Jay Deo made the stop and tried to direct the rebound to the corner. But Zielonka got in the way, sniping his 30th of the year into the yawning cage.
Alberni Valley answered five minutes later on a goal by Hunter Stewart.
The Calgary native finished off a slick three-way passing play started by defenceman Kurt Gosselin. From the left point, the blueliner fed the puck to Evan Tironese in the right faceoff circle. Tironese sent the puck across the goal mouth to Stewart.
Chiefs keeper Mitch Gillam couldn’t get post-to-post fast enough to prevent Stewart from potting his seventh of the season.
Chilliwack has experienced a puck-luck shortage in recent weeks, but a couple breaks went their way in period two.
At 11:20, an Austin Plevy shot from the left-wing boards hit an Alberni Valley defender and dropped to the ice at Luke Esposito’s feet. With Mathieu Tibbett setting a screen, the Connecticut kid snapped a five-hole shot through Deo for a 2-1 Chilliwack lead.
Two minutes later, Jaret Babych flew over the blueline and fired a shot on net.
Deo kicked the rebound to the right. Plevy pounced, firing a quick shot that went through Deo’s legs as he tried to get across.
Plevy’s 26th had Chilliwack up 3-1 heading to period three.
The Bulldogs got one back early in the final frame. Five seconds after a power play ended, Jared Wilson fired a shot from 15 feet out that squeaked through Gillam and trickled across the goal-line. Wilson’s eight of the year gave Alberni Valley momentum, but it was gone as quick as it came.
At 10:15, Tanner Burns helped restore the two-goal lead. With Babych cruising through the goal-mouth, Burns fired a shot from the right faceoff dot, picking the far corner. Burns was originally credited with the goal, but after further review, Babych touched the puck en-route, getting his 11th of the year.
The Chiefs went up by three with 3:56 remaining. Plevy did some good work below the goal-line, then spotted Zielonka uncovered in the goal-mouth. Zielonka was robbed on his first shot, with Deo getting a glove on it.
But the puck dropped into the blue paint, and Zielonka made good on the second chance, wrapping up the scoring.
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Tibbett.
The three stars were Tanner Cochrane (first), Kiefer McNaughton (second) and Burns (third).
Announced attendance was 2,278.
The Chiefs are on the road tomorrow afternoon, visiting the Coquitlam Express. The next home game is Friday night as Chilliwack hosts the West Kelowna Warriors.