It wasn’t pretty, but the Chilliwack Chiefs got back on the winning track Friday night, taking a 3-0 home ice decision over the visiting Nanaimo Clippers.
The Chiefs were out-shot, at times out-played, and they were arguably the second best team on the ice at Prospera Centre.
But the end result is what counts.
The Chiefs ended a two game losing skid and improved to 20-8-1-1 with one game remaining before the Christmas break.
Chilliwack had the only goal of period one, scoring on a power play at 9:44.
Jaret Babych got it, parking in the blue paint to tip a Spencer Graboski shot past Nanaimo netminder Jayson Argue.
Despite being out-shot 15-10 through 20 minutes, Chilliwack led heading to period two, and held that lead through a boring middle frame.
Very few scoring opportunities.
The best chance belonged to Chilliwack’s Mathieu Tibbett. The big winger blew past a Nanaimo defenceman and cut hard to the net. With the Clipper D-man hooking and holding, Tibbett was forced to the backhand with a shot that hit the inside of the left goal post before coming back out. The crowd though it was in, but the refs said no.
The only other highlight in period two was a fracas in the final minutes. Chilliwack’s Austin Plevy ignited it with a slight after-the-whistle shot at Nanaimo’s Michael McNicholas. Clipper blueliner Josh Bryan took exception, tackling Plevy to the ice.
Chilliwack’s Trevor Hills flew to his teammates defence, with sticks, gloves and helmets flying all over the ice.
Plevy, Hills, Bryan and Nanaimo’s Greg Fraser all drew two minute roughing-after-the-whistle minors, and the period ended with no further incident.
Shots on goal in the middle frame favoured Nanaimo 16-7.
The Chiefs were desperate for breathing room, and got it 67 seconds into period three on a goal by Garrett Forster.
David Thompson earned the first assist with a stretch pass that hit the skate of Nanaimo’s Austin Dick before finding Forster’s stick. Off to the races from the Clipper blueline in, Forster went to the backhand, lifting the puck over Argue’s blocker to put his Chiefs up by two.
Goaltender Mitch Gillam handled things from there.
The veteran stopper made a handful of stellar stops, none better than his thievery on an in-tight redirect by Nanaimo’s Matthew Grant.
The shutout was Gillam’s fourth of the year.
A scary moment late in the game as Chilliwack’s Ben Masella took a Christopher Rygus shot off the noggin.
The Chiefs D-man dropped like a brick, but was up quick, skating to the bench with no apparent ill effects.
Nanaimo’s Argue came to the bench with 1:23 remaining, and Plevy scored into the empty net with 35.2 seconds left to wrap up the scoring.
The three stars were Mitch Gillam (first), Luke Esposito (second) and Forster (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Mathieu Tibbett.
Announced attendance was 2,452.