The Chilliwack Chiefs put a five game losing skid to rest and started work on a new winning streak, taking back to back games against the Trail Smoke Eaters and Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The Chiefs (6-5-0-1) and Smokies (2-9-1-2) faced off Friday night at Prospera Centre, with Chilliwack earning a 4-3 win in overtime.
The Chiefs got regulation time goals from Derek Huisman, Kit Sitterley and Jeremy Gossard. The overtime winner came off the stick of Trevor Hills, who beat Trail netminder James D’Andrea just 39 seconds into the extra session.
Mitch Gillam tended net for Chilliwack, stopping 23 of the 26 shots he faced.
Adam Faries and Taylor House beat Gillam in the second period, and Erik Cooper scored with 3:24 remaining to force OT.
“We didn’t play well early in this game. We were nervous and tentative, with not a whole lot of energy,” said Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl. “As the game progressed we got better and better. I thought the kid line of (Garret) Forster, (Jaret) Babych and Gossard brought a lot of energy and created most of our chances.”
Chilliwack hit the road Saturday night, travelling to Salmon Arm to face the Silverbacks for the second time this season.
The Chiefs beat their Interior conference rivals 6-4 in early October, and handed the Silverbacks a 3-1 loss at the Sunwave Centre. Salmon Arm opened the scoring, with Devin Muller pulling the trigger just 38 seconds into period one.
David Thompson knotted the score at 1-1 midway through period one, with Sitterley and Chris Blessing adding second period markers to wrap up the scoring.
“Other than the first four or five minutes I thought we did a great job of shutting them down,” Smyl noted. “They didn’t get a whole lot of grade A opportunities, and most of their shots came from the perimeter. It was one of those greasy road victories.”
Gillam got another start in goal, stopping 23 of 24 pucks to even his regular season record at 4-4-0-0, with a 2.35 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
After splitting starts with Bryton Udy through the first nine games, the 19-year-old Ontario native has gotten the last three, perhaps an indication that Smyl has arrived at his go-to guy in goal.
“Udy’s last two outings haven’t been fantastic,” Smyl said. “He knows that, agrees with that and is working his butt off to get better. He’s working with our goalie guy, Rob Bruni, but right now Mitch is on a bit of a roll.”
Chilliwack is home Wednesday night at 7 p.m., hosting the Surrey Eagles at Prospera Centre.
— The Chiefs acquired 20-year-old defenceman Matthew Hutchinson from the Coquitlam Express late last week in exchange for future considerations.
Hutchinson was in the lineup for both of Chilliwack’s weekend games.
Before joining the Chiefs, the North Vancouver native logged 89 BCHL games with Surrey, Quesnel and the Express, recording 14 points and 120 penalty minutes.
Hutchinson adds size to the Chilliwack blueline, tipping the scale at six-foot-one and 196 pounds.
“Matthew takes pride in his defensive play and enjoys the physical part of the game, so he is your prototypical stay at home defenseman,” Smyl said. “We didn’t play that well defensively on the road the weekend prior and felt he could help in that area.”
To make room for Hutchinson, 19-year-old defenceman Justin Elliot was released.