The Chilliwack Chiefs returned to home ice Wednesday night, swatting the arch-rival Langley Rivermen 5-1 at Prospera Centre. Ryan Donohoe scored a pair for the Chiefs, who just finished a stretch of seven straight games on the road. With the win, Chilliwack leap-frogged the Prince George Spruce Kings, taking over top spot in the Mainland division.
The Rivermen opened the scoring in this one, with Evan Anderson pulling the trigger at 9:39 of period one.
The 17-year-old got a greasy one, parking at the left goal post to whack away at a loose puck. It took four or five swings, but he finally squeezed the puck under the pads of Chiefs goalie Mitch Gilam for his fifth of the year and a 1-0 Langley lead.
The Chiefs drew even with 4:38 left on a shorthanded strike by Donohoe. With his team killing a Mathieu Tibbett charging minor, the 20-year-old pounced on a turnover at the Chilliwack blue line and took off.
Pulling away from the pursuit, the veteran forward went stick side with his shot, firing the puck past James Barr for his fifth of the year.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 13-7.
Luke Esposito gave the Chiefs the lead 1:19 into period two. Two seconds after an Aaron Dolby high sticking minor elapsed, Chilliwack captain David Thompson threw a cross-ice pass to Esposito, who beat Barr upstairs on the short side for his fifth of the year.
Chilliwack went up by two late in the period on a goal by Jaret Babych, who used a heavy wrist shot to beat Barr from the right faceoff dot.
Gillam had to be good and lucky to preserve the lead.
The goalie made his biggest stop on Mitch McLain, who crashed the net on a two-on-one, re-directing a centering pass from Derek Sutcliffe. Gillam snapped the pads shut to keep that one out.
Sutcliffe had a blue chip chance of his own. On a shorthanded breakaway, the Las Vegas native went to the backhand and had room above Gillam’s outstretched glove. But the puck rolled off his stick as he tried to shoot.
With time ticking down in the period, Langley’s James Robinson beat Gillam but not the right goal post.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 27-24.
The Chiefs played a cautious and efficient third period, keeping Langley scoring chances to a minimum.
Donohoe put the Chiefs up 4-1 at 14:44 of the final frame, dancing into the slot to snipe another one past Barr.
Garrett Forster wrapped up the scoring with two minutes remaining, camping in the blue paint to chip a Thompson centering pass up and over the shell-shocked keeper.
Things got chippy at the end. With just over three minutes remaining, Chilliwack’s Shay Laurent dropped the mitts with Langley’s Thomas Nitsche. They traded rights and lefts for a good minute before the linesmen jumped in.
Chiefs D-man Cooper Rush tussled with a pair of Rivermen on the next shift, but the referees kept the lid from blowing off.
The three stars were Gillam (first), Donohoe (second) and McLain (third).
The Fortis Energy Player of the Game was Forster.
Announced attendance was 1,573.
Chilliwack visits Coquitlam Friday before returning to home ice Saturday night at 7 p.m. versus the Penticton Vees.