The Chilliwack Chiefs managed to split a pair of beastly road games last weekend.
Penticton has been a place of nightmares for many BCHL teams, and Chilliwack is no different. Since re-entering the league in 2011-12, the Chiefs had managed three wins and a tie in 17 trips.
Friday night was different.
In front of 2,946 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Chilliwack skated to a 4-0 win.
A Nikita Nesterenko power play goal opened the scoring in the first period, and second period snipes by Ethan Bowen and Peter Reynolds had the Chiefs up by three through 40 minutes. Clark Nelson’s first of the season wrapped up the scoring 8:48 into period three.
Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron stopped 30 pucks for the shutout, his second of the season.
“We got the start we wanted. We didn’t get the shots on net we’d like in the first period but we controlled the pace and a lot of the play,” said Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney. “We got the big goal from Nikita, and then in the second period we took over. We started firing a lot of shots. We had our legs and it was nice to get rewarded against a really good team.”
The Chiefs played another solid road game Saturday, but fell 3-1 in Trail.
Chilliwack out-shot the Smoke Eaters 48-29, but newcomer Tommy Lyons was the only Chief to slip a puck behind Trail goalie Logan Terness.
Lyons scored at 7:57 of the third period with his team down 2-0.
Trail added their third goal into an empty net, with ex-Chief Powell Connor netting his third of the season.
“We got beat by a goaltender, really,” Maloney said bluntly. “We were really tired, but we played smart and we were able to generate a lot of shots. We had our chances to win that game, but their goalie stole the show for sure.
“Obviously I would have liked to get the win on the second night, but if we play like that every night we’re heading in the right direction.”
The results are still uneven for Maloney’s crew right now, but the team is playing a tighter style than they were playing when the coach blasted them publicly a few weeks back.
“I like where we’re at, and we’re continuing to have conversations with our players about the direction we’re heading,” Maloney said. “They’re all buying in, and you’re seeing some things you didn’t see earlier in the season. I think we’re starting to see who’s bringing what. Guys are falling into certain roles, and they’re okay with it.
“We feel we have a deep group and as long as everyone’s going, we’ll be a solid team in this league.”