In future seasons the Chilliwack Chiefs and the Surrey Eagles will become very familiar with each other. But with the home team spending the year in the Interior conference, Wednesday night’s tilt at Prospera Centre marked the only meeting of the 2011-12 season between the Chiefs and their old Coastal conference arch-nemesis.
And so, after escaping Chilliwack with a 3-2 win, the Eagles now hold bragging rights until 2012-13.
The visitors opened the scoring in this one, with Ben Greiner pulling the trigger.
Chiefs goaltender Mitch Gillam got the first assist, going behind his net and putting an errant pass right on to Greiner’s stick.
Gillam frantically scrambled back into his goal crease, but not quick enough to stop Greiner from popping a backhander into the unguarded cage for his fourth of the year.
The Chiefs equalized at 14:15 on a goal by Trevor Hills, who pounced on a loose puck in the high slot and roofed a wrister over the glove of Surrey netminder Andrew Hunt for his fifth of the season. Mike Spring collected the only assist as Chilliwack escaped to the first intermission in a 1-1 tie.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 8-6.
A power play goal put the Eagles up 2-1 at the 8:30 mark of period two. With Alexandre Perron-Fontaine serving two minutes for hooking, Robert Lindores got credit for his fourth of the year. The Port Alberni kid got his stick on a D.J. Jones point shot, getting a slick redirection through the legs of Gillam.
Surrey added to their lead at 17:26, with Demico Hannoun taking a drop pass from Tyler Morley and picking the top corner over the right shoulder of Gillam.
Reeling against the ropes, the Chiefs got some help from the referees, who sent Eagles defenceman Steve Koshey to the box in the final minute for holding.
With 22.6 ticks left on the clock, Mike Berry fed Perron-Fontaine as he cut right to left across the high slot. The Quebec native drew everyone with him before slipping a backhand pass to Derek Huisman. Huisman calmly sniped his eighth of the year to keep Chilliwack within one heading to the final frame.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes were dead even at 14-14.
The only highlight in a tepid third period was Spring and Patrick Hunter squaring off in a brief neutral zone scrap. Hunter landed more punches and the fight left Spring bleeding above his left eye. Both players got minors, majors and 10 minute misconducts.
Penalty problems derailed any Chilliwack comeback hopes. Kit Sitterley (high sticking), Josh Hansen (tripping) and Perron-Fontaine (tripping) were each assessed third period minors, sapping momentum from the Chiefs offence.
The final insult came with 1:02 left as Gillam came to the bench and two skaters jumped onto the ice. Two minutes for too many men on the ice.
Chilliwack generated nine largely harmless shots in the final 20, as Surrey’s hunt recorded his eighth win of the season in net.
Three stars were Morley (first), Hills (second) and Lindores (third).
Announced attendance was 1,607.
The Chiefs are back on home ice Friday night at 7 p.m. hosting the Prince George Spruce Kings.