Two goals from Austin Plevy and 34 saves from Mitch Gillam helped the Chilliwack Chiefs to a 4-1 home ice win over the visiting Vernon Vipers Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
The Chiefs played one of their most complete games of the season, extending their current unbeaten string to six games while improving their overall record to 7-2-1-1.
The Viper saw their record drop to an unimpressive 3-5-0-3.
Josh Hansen got the home side started in this one, opening the scoring just 3:42 in on a Chilliwack power play.
With Vernon’s Marc Hetnik parked in the penalty box (cross-checking), Hansen beat Viper keeper Austin Smith on the wraparound for his team-leading seventh of the season. Just 11 games into the season, the Chilliwack native sits five off his career high in goals. Hansen scored 12 in 58 games last season.
His Chiefs doubled their lead four minutes later on a goal by second-year forward Jaret Babych. The 18-year-old lit the lamp for the first time this season, unleashing a top-shelf wrist shot from the right faceoff dot.
As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat on the scoreboard…
Down two goals, the Vipers sent tough guy Kevin Guiltinan out to do his thing. The 17-year-old challenged Chilliwack’s biggest player, D-man Cooper Rush, and did rather well. Rush started strong, landing several punches that might have floored lesser fighters. But Guiltinan took the punishment, then dealt some out, finishing the fight with several rights before pulling Rush’s jersey over his head.
A couple shifts later, Chilliwack’s Ben Masella dropped the mitts with Vernon’s Jedd Soleway in a scrap that wasn’t nearly so entertaining.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes were dead even at 13-13.
The teams traded goals in an entertaining and evenly played middle frame.
Penalty troubles helped the Vipers cut into Chilliwack’s lead early in the period. First, Shay Laurent was flagged for holding. Then Kiefer McNaughton was sent off for slashing, giving Vernon a two-man advantage for 1:25.
Adam Tambellini made them pay, one-timing a Brett Corkey pass past Gillam from a sharp angle to get the Snakes within one.
But the Chiefs answered back with a power play goal of their own at 7:39. Austin Plevy crashed the net, and from his belly, swept a loose puck home for his sixth of the year.
In the closing minutes, McNaughton and Vernon’s Geoff Crisfield squared off for the third fight of the game. McNaughton landed some left jabs and body shots, but Crisfield gave as good as he got in a split decision.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Vernon 22-21.
The Chiefs efficiently nursed the lead in the final frame, keeping the Vernon offence under wraps. Trail native Craig Martin had the best Viper chance, beating Gillam but not the right post on a shot from the left faceoff dot.
At the other end, it was Plevy scoring the fourth Chilliwack goal with just under seven minutes remaining.
Hansen did the heavy lifting, carrying the puck from the left corner to the front of the Vernon net. Hansen lost the puck, but Plevy was there to clean up, punching the puck past Austin for his second of the game.
The three stars were Plevy (first), Babych (second) and Shay Laurent (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Babych.
Announced attendance was 2,244.
The Chiefs won’t be home for a while. The team hits the road for seven games, starting Friday night in Nanaimo.
The next home game is Nov. 7 versus the Langley Rivermen.