Jamie Crooks scored two late goals Wednesday night as the Chilliwack Bruins gutted out a 3-1 home ice win over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.
In a game that was bad for 55 minutes and great for five, the Bruins came up with a clutch win, improving to 27-30-2-3 and picking up two big points in the race for the eighth and final Western conference playoff spot.
The Bruins were defensively deficient in the first period of this one, and only Lethbridge misfires kept the game at 1-0 through 20 minutes.
Chilliwack gave up four two-on-ones, yet the Canes generated just five shots on goal. Austin Fyten scored the only goal on a late Lethbridge power play, sniping his 24th of the year with Roman Horak in the box for slashing.
Seconds after he set up Brody Sutter for a missed one-timer, Fyten collected the rebound along the end-line and hit the net with a sharp-angle backhand.
Shots on goal in period one favoured Chilliwack 6-5.
The good guys tightened up defensively in the middle frame and got their first goal off the stick of captain Brandon Manning. Fyten was in the box for running over Chilliwack netminder Lucas Gore as the 20-year-old Philadelphia Flyers prospect got his 16th of the year. Manning launched a wrist shot from the left point that caught the top right corner behind screened Canes netminder Brandon Anderson.
Shots on goal in period two favoured Lethbridge 10-9.
Highlights were few and far between in a pedestrian third period, but the only highlight that counted belonged to Chilliwack.
With 4:19 remaining in the game, a faceoff came back to Robin Soudek near the point. The Czech sent a shot on net, creating a big rebound for Crooks. The 18-year-old wheeled and fired, beating Anderson for his 14th of the year.
Gore had to come up with a couple big saves to preserve the win, thwarting Russell Maxwell on a one-timer and Mitch Maxwell on a backhander.
Anderson gave his team a chance with a huge toe save on Soudek, and came to the bench with 38 seconds left.
But Crooks iced the game 18 seconds later, scoring into the empty net.
Three stars were Manning (first), Mike Reddington (Lethbridge, second) and Crooks (third).
The Bruins are back on home ice Saturday night, hosting the Kamloops Blazers in a massive B.C. division clash.