The Chilliwack Chiefs stretched their win streak to five games with a hard-fought win over the Surrey Eagles Saturday night at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
Former Chiefs coach Cam Keith led his new team into Chilliwack for the first time, and the Eagles gave the Chiefs a battle.
But a Tyler Cristall goal late in the second period stood up as the winner in a 3-2 triumph as the Chilliwack improved to 7-4-0-0 and solidified their hold on second place in the Mainland division, two points behind the first place Coquitlam Express.
Surrey dropped to 4-8-0-0 overall, good for fifth in the division.
The Chiefs fell behind early on a goal by Cristophe Tellier, but battled back to lead 2-1 through 20 minutes.
Tellier opened the scoring at 8:19. Taking a lead pass from linemate Sean Ramsay, Tellier had a breakaway from the high slot in. The Quebec product made no mistake, lifting a shot over the mitt of Chilliwack netminder Mathieu Caron for his fifth of the season.
The Eagle lead stood for two minutes and 20 seconds before the home team tied it up.
Ethan Bowen took a pass from Joey Larson below the left faceoff circle and fired a low sharp-angle shot that caught the far side behind Surrey goalie Thomas Scarfone.
Speed kills, and the wheels of Brett Rylance gave the Chiefs the lead at 18:04.
Taking the puck behind his own end-line, the Chilliwack product when end to end, blowing past Eagles D JJ Fecteau on the left wing, cutting hard to the net and tucking a backhand inside the right post for his third of the season.
The teams traded goals in the middle frame.
Surrey drew even on a power play goal by Brandon Santa Juana, who parked to the left of the Chilliwack net, took a pass from Tellier and buried his third of the season behind Caron.
The Chiefs regained the lead for good at 9:02.
On a three-on-two rush, Cristall took a pass from Bowen and, with a full slap-shot windup, blew a shot past Scarfone.
His water-battle popping third of the season sent Chilliwack to the final frame leading 3-2.
The third period was snoozy, which is good if you’re protecting a one goal lead. That’s not to say Caron didn’t have anything to do. The netminder didn’t face a huge volume of shots, but he had some difficult saves to make.
On a Surrey power play late in third period, the netminder dropped into the butterfly to thwart Gabe Schovanek as he drove to the net and tipped a slap pass from Tellier.
Seconds later the Eagles came in on a two-on-one rush, and Caron was able to get his shoulder on a shot that was labelled for the top corner.
Caron made 25 saves on 27 shots total, earning his fourth win in five starts this season.
The three stars were Rylance (first), Tellier (second) and Cristall (third) with Clark Nelson the Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game.
Chilliwack is on the road tomorrow night, facing the Langley Rivermen.
The next home game is Wednesday night when the Chiefs host the Vernon Vipers, with a 7 p.m. start time.