The Chilliwack Chiefs redeemed themselves for an opening night stinker, earning a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the Vernon Vipers Sunday night at Prospera Centre.
One night after losing 6-1 in lifeless fashion to the Powell River Kings, the home side showed more grit and tenacity, taking an unexpected single point from a stacked Viper squad that will host the RBC Cup tournament this year.
The Chiefs clearly have a ton to work on, but this one was a small step in the right direction.
Vernon’s only goal was an exercise in puck-luck.
Michael McNicholas teed up a hard but harmless shot from the left wing. Chiefs netminder Lyndon Stanwood had it read all the way, and was ready to make the save when the puck hit a leg and took a 90 degree turn to uncovered sniper Demico Hannoun.
The 18-year-old had the world’s emptiest net to shoot at, tickling the twine for his second of the season.
The Chiefs spent most of the night scuffling at both ends of the ice. A roster populated with BCHL newbies clearly struggled this weekend adapting to the pace of junior A hockey — lots of panicky off-target passes and shots blocked, the result of decision making that’s a split second off where it needs to be.
Never has a one-goal lead looked as safe as Vernon’s did for 53 minutes.
But with 6:45 on the clock, newcomer Kurt Black surprised everyone, curling through the high slot and went top-shelf glove-side over Vernon netminder Austin Smith.
The Winfield native’s first BCHL goal sent the game to four-on-four overtime.
Chilliwack’s Kyle Westeringh made a game-saving play two minutes into the extra session.
Hannoun fired a hot shot from the high slot that hit the right post and came shooting into the low slot. Stanwood turned around and had his back to the puck and Mason Blacklock. As the Viper went for the kill, Westeringh poked the puck away.
The teams moved on to five minutes of surprisingly sedate three-on-three, producing no goal and a rare BCHL tie.
Final shots on goal favoured Vernon 43-34.
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the game was Black.
The three stars were Stanwood (first), Hannoun (second) and Jaret Babych (third).