Time away from the BCHL grind may have done the Chilliwack Chiefs a world of good.
The junior A club enjoyed a 13 day break between games after playing their last pre-Christmas tilt Dec. 15, losing 5-1 at Langley.
They returned to action last Friday (Dec. 29) with a 2-1 home ice win over Surrey, followed the next night by a 3-2 road win at Coquitlam — encouraging results for a team that needs to make up ground against Mainland division foes.
“I thought we played real good on Friday,” said Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic. “We were moving the puck well. We were physical. Overall we were happy with our effort and energy.”
Tatarnic’s crew out-shot the Eagles 41-27, with Surrey netminder Daniel Davidson earning third-star honours.
“We had some chances to extend the lead and we didn’t because their goalie made some big saves,” Tatarnic noted. “So did (Mathieu) Caron for us. Both goalies were really good.”
Owen Norton was the only Eagle to slip a puck behind Chilliwack’s netminder. His third period tally tied the game at 1-1, setting the stage for PJ Marrocco’s winner 3:35 into overtime.
Corey Andonovski scored the other Chiefs goal.
Caron was back between the pipes Saturday, facing just 12 shots in the entire game.
Playing in the claustrophobic confines of Coquitlam’s Poirier Sports and Leisure Centre, Caron’s teammates stifled a punchless Express attack. Coquitlam generated six shots in the first period, four in the second and just two in the third.
Meanwhile, Chilliwack pumped 29 pucks at Coquitlam keeper Clay Stevenson, getting goals from Kaden Pickering, Anthony Vincent and Jake Gresh.
“Coquitlam works hard and they play with energy, and I thought the second period was a little bit of a struggle for us,” Tatarnic said. “But I thought we played really well in the first and we really executed well and came out with a purpose in the third period.
“We scored early and even though we didn’t score again I thought we controlled play from start to finish.”
The Chiefs improved to 18-15-2-2 on the season, and if they can string together a few more wins things get really interesting in the Mainland division standings.
The fourth place club is within two points of third place Surrey, which supplies the opposition tomorrow (Saturday, 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre).
Chilliwack is in Langley Sunday to face the first place Rivermen, who currently hold an eight point edge on the Chiefs. But, Chilliwack has two games in hand. They win the head-to-head and take care of those games in hand and all of a sudden Langley’s lead could be down to two points.