Chiefs stay in hunt with home ice win over Eagles

The Chilliwack Chiefs took both halves of a weekend home-and-home against Surrey to stay in the BCHL playoff chase.

The Chilliwack Chiefs got just what they needed going into the Christmas break when they pummeled the Trail Smoke Eaters 13-5. And they got just what they needed coming out of the break with back-to-back wins over the Surrey Eagles.

After beating their division rivals 5-3 Saturday night in Surrey, the Chiefs returned home for the Sunday night rematch. Playing one of their tidier games of the year, the home team won 5-2, boosting their slim hopes for a playoff spot.

The Chiefs come out of the weekend 10-26-1-2, still 10 points behind Surrey for the Mainland divisions fourth seed.

But with four head-to-head meetings still remaining, they’ve given themselves a chance.

Ben Butcher scored twice in the first period, giving him four goals in his last two games.

The Bellingham native opened the scoring at 6:16. Pouncing on a turnover just inside the Surrey blueline, Butcher came in alone on Eagles keeper Bo Didur. He feinted to the forehand and went to the backhand, slipping the puck past the stopper for his ninth of the year.

After Surrey’s Nathan Renouf briefly tied the game, Butcher struck again. Cooper Rush blasted a point shot from the right point that hit the end boards and came out on the left. Butcher one-timed the carom past Didur for his 10th.

The Chiefs went up 3-1 at 10:17 on a goal by Mathieu Tibbet. The 20 year old led a two-on-one rush, flanked by Tanner Cochrane. Choosing to shoot, he beat Didur five-hole for his 14th of the year and fifth in the last two games.

The Eagles got within one early in period two. Darius Davidson fought off a Cooper Rush check in the Chilliwack goal-mouth, tipping a Matthew Dawson point shot past Chiefs netminder Spencer Tremblay.

Chilliwack took just 29 seconds to answer back, restoring the two-goal lead on a goal by Tanner Cochrane. Hounded by Eagles D-man Domenic Masellis, the veteran winger came out from behind the Surrey net and stretched out to sweep a backhand shot past Didur.

The Chiefs added to their lead with 61 ticks left in the middle frame. Rush scored it, with the big blueliner taking a cross-ice pass from Austin Plevy and snapping a heavy shot through Didur for his seventh of the year.

The Chiefs weathered a storm in the third period, with the Eagles out-shooting them 17-9. But goalie Spencer Tremblay played big and confident, helping his team lock it down and get the win. His efforts earned him the game’s third star.

Tanner Cochrane was the second star and Butcher the first.

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Andrew Silard.

On Fill the Rink for the Food Bank night, an announced crowd of 2,170 donated 10,100 pounds of non-perishable food.

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