The Chilliwack Chiefs turned in a disappointing home-ice effort Saturday, dropping a 4-2 decision to the visiting Victoria Grizzlies.
The Chiefs were good on the power play, passable on the penalty kill and awful five-on-five, dropping to 2-2-0-1 on the season.
It’s clear the team still has a great deal to work on.
Josh Hansen scored the only goal of period one at the tail end of a Chilliwack power play.
With Victoria’s Turner Lawson serving the final seconds of a blow-to-the-head minor, Chiefs forward Austin Plevy got aggressive on the forecheck. The Langley native forced a turnover behind the Grizzly net. Hansen grabbed the puck and beat Victoria netminder Michael Stiliadis with a wraparound at 2:50.
For the first five minutes of the game the Chiefs were the better team.
For the final 15 minutes, the Grizzlies were superior. Victoria generated 18 shots on net and forced Chilliwack netminder Mitch Gillam to make some solid stops.
His best came on a Grizzly power play.
From the right wing boards, defenceman Nolan DeJong fed a cross-ice pass to Gerry Fitzgerald, who stepped into a perfect one-timer.
Gillam took it away, going left to right to smother the puck and preserve the 1-0 lead.
Chilliwack’s goaltender made another eye-popping save eight minutes into the middle frame. DeJong was again the playmaker, threading a pass through traffic to Chase Kaiser.
Kaiser cut left to right across the top of the crease, and looked to have an easy goal on the backhand. But Gillam reached back with his glove, sweeping the puck off the goal-line.
It took 25 shots, but Victoria finally found a way past the Gillam at 10:11.
Fitzgerald pulled the trigger with a perfectly-placed shot that went under the goalie’s glove and just inside the left post.
The Chiefs regained quickly regained the lead on a power play goal by Mini Cooper Rush, with the big blueliner beating Stiliadis with a wrist shot from the point for his second of the year.
But the Grizzlies had the last laugh in the middle frame.
With Chilliwack’s Ben Israel in the box for holding, Stefan Nicholishen got his stick on a DJ Jones point shot, tipping the puck past Gillam for his first of the year.
Jones scored one of his own 2:19 into period three, and the Grizzlies led for the first time.
And that was pretty much it.
Other than a late power play, Chiefs forwards were loathe to go to the front of the net, settling for shots from the outside.
None of them found their way past Stiliadis, who barely broke a sweat earning his third win in four starts.
Victoria’s Reid Jackman sealed the deal with 30.5 seconds left, putting the puck into an empty net.
The three stars were Jones (first), Hansen (second) and Fitzgerald (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was
Announced attendance was 1,877
Chilliwack hosts the Powell River Kings Friday night at Prospera Centre with a 7 p.m. puck drop.