Motivation must have been hard to come by for the Chilliwack Chiefs Sunday night as they hosted the Trail Smoke Eaters at Prospera Centre.
Thanks to Saturday night’s results, the game had zero affect on the standings. Locked into a first round playoff date with the mighty Penticton Vees, all the Chiefs needed to do was avoid injuries and fights against a Trail team that was never in the playoff race.
The end result, a 5-2 win by Chilliwack, was nothing more than a happy bonus.
Neither team looked like they were mailing it in in a fast-paced first period that included two goals and plenty of physical play.
Chilliwack opened the scoring on a power play.
With Trail’s Tre Potskin in the box for slashing, Chiefs captain Ty Miller teed up a shot from the right point. Cruising through the goal-mouth, Spencer Graboski tipped the shot past Smokies keeper Lyndon Stanwood for his 12th of the year.
Trail took four minutes to answer back on a goal by Tanner Clarkson. His 14th of the season was a bit of a softy on Chilliwack netminder Bryton Udy, who was beaten on an unscreened wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Shots on goal in the opening frame favoured the Chiefs 10-8.
If there was one positive to come out of a meaningless game, it was the opportunity for third and fourth liners to get some extra ice time. With Chilliwack’s top line of Malcolm Gould, Derek Huisman and David Bondra getting limited minutes, players like Jaret Babych got their chance to shine.
After Trail took the lead 4:24 into period two, it was Babych who tied the game, coming down the middle to beat Stanwood with a heavy blocker side wrist shot.
Babych scored his second of the game later in the period with another bullet that Stanwood couldn’t handle. Babych pursued the shot into the blue paint and poked the rebound home for his seventh of the year.
In between Babych tallies, Huisman hit the 30 goal mark, converting a pretty backhand feed from Gould.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 29-26.
The Chiefs added to their lead 9:44 into period three on a goal by Gould.
The North Vancouver native flew down the right wing and fired a shot from the right faceoff dot. Stanwood left a rebound for Gould, who darted behind the net and stuffed the puck inside the far post for his team-leading 36th.
Udy added the exclamation point to the win, stopping Chilliwack native Connor Tiechko on a breakaway with 3:25 left.
The three stars were Babych (first), Garrett Forster (second) and Trevor Hills (third).
Announced attendance was 2,013.
In their first season back in the BCHL, Chilliwack’s average attendance was the highest in the junior A circuit.
– Bill Miller was a really, really big winner in Sunday night’s Ultimate Puck Shooting Contest finale. Miller was the first of four shooters to take aim at a small slot in the net, shooting from the far blueline.
Miller put some air under his puck and hit the hole, winning a brand new black Dodge Challenger supplied by O’Connor Chrysler.
He seemed pretty happy about it.