Chilliwack’s Vimal Sukumaran tracks down a Merritt puck carrier during a BCHL game Sunday night at Prospera Centre. The Chiefs dumped the Centennials 5-2

Chiefs manhandle Merritt to complete weekend sweep

The Merritt Centennials and Prince George Spruce Kings combined to provide the Chilliwack Chiefs with three wins in BCHL action.

The Chilliwack Chiefs put the boots to the Merritt Centennials Sunday night at Prospera Centre, pummeling the visitors 5-2 in a one-sided BCHL clash.

The Chiefs played Friday and Saturday night in Prince George, winning both games, and slept on the bus during the long ride home.

But their skating legs looked just fine as they finished off the weekend sweep, improving their Mainland division leading record to 22-6-1-3.

Merritt’s Colin Grannary opened the scoring at 7:40 of period one.

Tyler Ward got the assist with a pass from the left-wing wall that found Grannary as he cut toward the net. Grannary finished with a shot inside the far post for his 18th of the year.

BCHL schedulers booked the right team for Chilliwack’s Teddy Bear/Toque Toss night, with the defensively deficient Centennials taking less than two minutes to cough up the lead. Kohen Olischefski sent the stuffies flying when he burst past a Merritt defender and slipped a backhand shot through the legs of Cents keeper Cole Kehler.

An estimated 2,400 toys and toques flew onto the ice, stopping the game for 10 minutes.

Once play resumed, the Chiefs surged ahead at 14:24 on a power play by scoring machine Zach Giuttari. The Rhode Island native scored his fourth goal in his last five games when he took a cross-ice pass from Vimal Sukumaran.

Giuttari, who went goal-less through the first 24 games of this season, fanned on his first shot attempt. Thrown off balance by the unintended fake, Kehler was helpless as Giuttari’s second try snuck under him at 14:24.

Chilliwack looked to escape to the second period with the lead until a last second goal (literally) knotted things up.

With Merritt on the power play, New York native Michael Faulkner sent a wrist shot on net from the point. Ward got his stick on it, tipping it past Chiefs netminder Matteo Esposito for his 11th. The goal came with .6 seconds on the clock.

Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 11-6.

The home team broke this game open with a pair of goals late in the middle frame.

Linden Hora netted the first at 14:01. With a delayed penalty coming for Merritt, the Kelowna kid camped in the goal-mouth, took a pass from Jeremy Germain and roofed a backhand shot over Kehler.

Chilliwack newcomer Aaron O’Neill collected his first BCHL goal at 18:32. Freshly signed out of the USHL and playing his first game with the Chiefs, the Tennessee native crashed the crease and steered the rebound from a Jake Smith shot across the line, sending his team to the final frame with a 4-2 lead.

Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 24-12.

In the third period the Chiefs did what they’ve done to a lot of opponents lately, clamping down on D.

The Centennials barely got a sniff around the Chilliwack net, generating just six shots.

Meanwhile, Jesse Lansdell potted the game’s final goal on a Chiefs power play.

Darien Craighead put a pass across the goal-mouth to Lansdell, who poked it past Kehler for his 11th of the year.

Announced attendance was 1,618.

The three stars were Giuttari (first), Hora (second) and Germain (third).

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Mitch Skapski.

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