Chilliwack Chiefs lose starting goalie Mathieu Caron to knee injury

Backup Nolan Hildebrand is holding the fort until another injured goalie, Daniel Chenard, returns.

Daniel Chenard’s return to action can’t come soon enough for the Chilliwack Chiefs.

The top goaltender from last spring’s RBC Cup tournament is close to returning from a hip injury, but Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney said he’s probably still two weeks away.

Those may be two very long weeks.

Mathieu Caron went down with a knee injury during Friday night’s home game against Prince George.

He skated off under his own power but needed two people supporting him once he got off the ice.

“Obviously it didn’t look good as he came off and he didn’t have much stability in his knee,” said Chiefs coach Brian Maloney. “The doctor took a look at him today (Monday) and it doesn’t look good.

“He’s told us it might be an ACL tear or something like that, and we’ll get the MRI back later this week with an exact diagnosis, but it’s not looking like Mathieu will be coming back this year.”

Nolan Hildebrand played superbly in relief, earning first star honours as Chilliwack came back to beat PG 3-2 in a shootout. But he was lit up the next night as the Spruce Kings won 6-3.

“I’m comfortable with Nolan if he plays like he did when he went in the first night, but we can’t have him playing the way he played Saturday,” Maloney said. “That’s the reality of it, and he’d probably be the first one to tell you he needs to be better, but consistency is a big part of being a goaltender.

“Nolan’s a great kid who works hard on and off the ice and we expect him to iron that out, because right now the crease is his.”

Affiliate player Dawson Pelletier, a Hope native, was on the bench as the backup. But with just 13 minutes of BCHL experience under his belt, the 17 year old isn’t a great option.

The schedule buys Maloney some time.

Chilliwack’s lone game this weekend is a Friday night road clash with the last place Surrey Eagles.

There’s not another game until Dec. 5 versus Langley.

“We’re sticking to the plan with Daniel (Chenard), and hopefully he can get his conditioning, some extra reps and extra shots so we see him sooner rather than later,” Maloney said. “Getting him back for the Langley game would be pushing it, but there is a possibility.”

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