The Chilliwack Chiefs out-lasted the Langley Rivermen 2-1 in a post-Christmas clunker Wednesday night at Prospera Centre.
Putting on a display of horrendous hockey, the teams combined for 39 shots in a sloppy affair that stands as a strong contender for least entertaining game of the year.
Shaking off the rust from the holiday break, neither team was sharp. The teams played a ton of bobble-puck, with every pass just a little bit off.
What didn’t suffer in the first period was Chilliwack’s finish around the net. The home team staked themselves to an early two-goal lead on goals by Vimal Sukumaran and Darien Craighead.
Zach Giuttari drew the assist on Sukumaran’s 24th of the season, rattling a point-shot wrister off the end boards and back into the goal mouth. No. 11 in red located the puck and slipped a backhand shot past Langley keeper Bo Didur at 4:42.
Craighead notched his 13th of the year with 3:52 to go off a Kawaguchian feed from Captain Jordan K.
But the Rivermen cut into the lead in the last minute. With just 8.8 ticks on the clock, Justin Fregona took a cross-ice pass from Dominic Franco and, from the left faceoff dot, fired a water bottle bouncer over the glove of Chilliwack netminder Aidan Pelino.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured the visitors 9-7.
Not until the 14:03 mark of period two did the Chiefs test Didur again as Langley tilted the ice in their favour. Helped by a pair of early power plays, the Rivermen owned possession in the middle frame but couldn’t put another puck past Pelino.
While Didur read a magazine down his end, Chilliwack’s netminder had constant activity around his cage. For all their buzzing about, Langley only generated five shots themselves, but three of them were blue chip chances. Pelino stood tall and got timely help from his goal-post on one shot, maintaining the one goal lead into period three.
The third period was boring and scoreless, a good thing for the home team which held Langley to just five shots on goal.
Hanging on for the win, the Chiefs improved to 24-7-1-3, putting space between themselves and their Mainland division rivals. First place Chilliwack leads second place Wenatchee by five points with two games in hand, and they’ve got a nine point cushion over third place Langley with one game in hand.
The three stars were Craighead (first), Fregona (second) and Sukumaran (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Linden Hora.
Announced attendance was 2,318.
The Chiefs hit the road this weekend for back to back road games against the Wenatchee Wild. The next home game is Jan. 6 against Langley with a 7 p.m. start.
– Chiefs fans donated 3,500 pounds of food for the Salvation Army on Fill the Rink for the Food Bank night.