The Chilliwack Chiefs sail into a two-week Christmas break feeling very good about themselves after playing the mighty Penticton Vees to a 1-1 draw Sunday night.
Where measuring stick games are concerned, it doesn’t get any better than the Interior division powerhouse.
The Vees came into the match 26-4-2-1, topping the 16 team BCHL in points (55) and win percentage (.833), led by a stingy D that surrenders less than two goals per game.
The Chiefs were second in win percentage (.697), looking to see where they stacked up. Taking one point out of the South Okanagan Events Centre provides proof positive that Chilliwack is among the BCHL elite.
The only goals in this game came in the first period.
Penticton came out flying, recording 11 of the first 12 shots on goal.
Hunter Cooper opened the scoring at 7:32, putting his fifth of the year behind Chiefs stopper Aidan Pelino on a Vees power play.
But Pelino was airtight from there, matching Penticton netminder Hunter Miska stop for stop.
Craig Puffer was the only Chilliwack skater to beat Miska.
Off a defensive zone turnover the Connecticut kid one-timed a Dennis Cholowski pass past Miska for his 20th of the year.
Among several stellar stops made the goalies, Miska turned in the best, thwarting Chilliwack’s Jake Hand on a second period penalty shot.
Miska ended up with 37 saves and first star honours.
Pelino finished with 33 saves and second star honours.
Scoring one goal in Penticton may have been jarring for the Chiefs, who scored 12 combined in wins over Coquitlam (Friday) and Trail (Saturday).
Chilliwack started the weekend with a home game at Prospera Centre versus the Express.
The Chiefs sandwiched one bad period between two good ones in a 5-2 win.
Chilliwack got first period goals from Hand and Kurt Black in a solid opening frame.
A horrid second period saw Coquitlam equalize on snipes by Owen Stout and Brendan Lamont.
A penalty shot goal by Brandon Potomak 4:32 into period three gave Chilliwack the lead for good.
Evan McEachern added an insurance marker and Potomak sealed the deal with an empty netter.
The offence kept clicking Saturday in Trail.
The teams traded goals in the first period, with Ryan Bowen and Mason Boh scoring for Chilliwack and Charlie Zuccarini and Connor Brown-Maloski replying for Trail.
The Smoke Eaters took a 3-2 lead 4:29 into period two on a goal by Jake Lucchini, then watched the Chiefs score five straight.
Hand and Luke McColgan scored second period goals.
Potomak, Jake Larson and McColgan put the game out of reach in the third period.
Cooper Leitch scored a late one for Trail to wrap up the scoring.
Chilliwack cruises into Christmas at 22-9-1-1, first in the Mainland division and third (by points) in the entire league.
The Chiefs have a five point cushion, with a game in hand, on the surging Langley Rivermen, winners of four straight. The Prince George Spruce Kings have lost three straight, slipping to third place.
Chilliwack doesn’t play again until Dec. 28 and a home game against the Surrey Eagles (4-24-0-3).
l Two wins, plus a tie against the BCHL’s best, was enough to move the Chiefs one spot down in the latest national top-20.
The Canadian Junior Hockey League released its list Monday morning, with Chilliwack slipping from No. 18 to No. 19.
The Vees held steady at No. 3 behind the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Portage Terriers and the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Camrose Kodiaks.
The Nanaimo Clippers earned honourable mention status with the Vernon Vipers slipping off the radar.
Find the full rankings online at cjhlhockey.com.