The visiting Westside Warriors had an eight game losing skid extended to nine at Prospera Centre Saturday night, falling 5-4 in overtime to the hometown Chilliwack Chiefs.
The hard-luck Warriors out-shot and out-played the Chiefs and probably deserved a better fate.
But luck favoured the locals, who got the game winner from defenceman Alexandre Perron-Fontaine.
That Perron-Fontaine was on the ice at all was a testament to the toughness of the little D-man from Quebec who was helped off the ice early in the second period.
“I tried to block a shot, and normally I would block it with my shin guards,” he explained. “But this one I blocked with my ankle. I don’t have any protection, and I couldn’t really feel my foot anymore.”
Perron-Fontaine was helped off the ice putting absolutely no weight on his right leg. But a few minutes later, the shifty blueliner was back in action, ready to put the finishing touches on his best BCHL game to date.
His Chiefs got the scoring started in this one with a goal by red-hot Malcolm Gould. The North Vancouver native extended his points streak to seven games with his ninth goal of the year, punching in a pass from linemate Derek Huisman at 5:53.
Gould had a mere 33 seconds to celebrate before the Warriors answered back.
Kelowna native Shawn Hochhausen pounced on a loose puck in a goal-mouth scramble and buried his fourth of the season behind Chilliwack netminder Bryton Udy.
Langley’s Richard Vanderhoek gave the Warriors the lead 37 seconds later with his seventh of the season, and Travis Blanleil scored less than two minutes later to give Westside a 3-1 lead.
Blanleil’s tally came shorthanded, with Taylor Fauchoux serving two minutes for boarding. Devon Hascarl blocked a Mike Berry point shot and led a two-on-one rush. Hascarl saucered a pass to Blanleil, who roofed the puck for his sixth of the year.
Westside had three goals on eight shots and ended the first period with a 13-7 edge in shots on goal.
Chilliwack’s power play got them one goal closer at 7:44 of period two.
With Westside’s Tyler Krause banished to the bin for boarding, Perron-Fontaine floated a wrister from the point that beat Warriors netminder James Leonard through a partial screen.
“I think the guy in front of me might have tipped the shot, because it went in even though it wasn’t too hard of a shot,” he said. “The coach has been wanting me to have more shots on the power play. That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last two or three weeks, and it’s been working.”
The goal was Perron-Fontaine’s first in the BCHL.
“Yesterday, (assistant coach) Doug Ast kissed my hockey stick and said, ‘Tonight’s the night,’” he laughed. “I was thinking about it a lot, wondering when I was going to score. But I didn’t get the puck.”
Perron-Fontaine turned in some fine work in the defensive zone minutes later. With his team killing a penalty, the 19-year-old Quebec native saved a goal, sweeping a loose puck off the Chilliwack goal-line.
“It was a really important shift on the penalty kill, and I saw the puck rolling almost in the net,” he said.
His Chiefs drew even in the final minute of the middle frame on a goal by Huisman, with Gould starting the play with a centering pass from the right-wing board.
David Bondra crashed the net and Huisman followed, popping the loose puck past Leonard with 57 ticks left on the clock.
But with 9:09 remaining in regulation time the Warriors regained the lead.
Udy almost kept the game tied, making an initial save on Blanleil, then kicking his right leg out to thwart Hochhausen.
But the third shot eluded him as Minnesota native Garrett Skrbich buried his third of the year.
With time slipping away, it looked like the Chiefs were destined for defeat. That is, until an unlikely hero came through with a clutch tally.
Spencer Graboski hadn’t scored a goal since Oct. 8, but when a Ty Miller point shot squirted out of a crowd in front, the Quesnel native found himself in the right place to pot his third of the year and send this game to overtime.
“I didn’t even know he’d gone that long without scoring, because he’s been playing good,” Perron-Fontaine noted.
The best chance in the first five minutes of four-on-four OT came off the stick of Westside defenceman Izaak Berglund, who rang a shot off the right post from the left faceoff dot.
The game winner came with 1:43 left in the three-on-three stage, scored by Perron-Fontaine. In a uniquely BCHL moment, Perron-Fontaine found himself leading a two-on-none rush, flanked by Garrett Forster.
Perron-Fontaine went to the backhand, putting the puck up and over Leonard’s flailing glove.
“You’re supposed to play man-to-man defence, but I’m not sure what Westside did there,” the blueliner grinned. “We don’t practice it too often, and other teams probably don’t either, so you get more defensive breakdowns like that, I guess.”
While he had a talented winger in Forster riding shot-gun, Perron-Fontaine was going shot all the way.
“I wanted to do a little deke on the backhand and go on the shortside,” he said. “I knew the goalie would bite on my move, so it was cool.”
So, it wasn’t a work of art.
But by putting the boots to the struggling Warriors, the Chiefs improved to 12-7-0-1 on the season.
Twenty-five points leaves them fourth in the Interior conference, within two points of the third place Vernon Vipers (26) and second place Merritt Centennials (27).
For the moment, things are good.
“Sincerely, this team has the best spirit of any team I’ve been on in the last five years,” Perron-Fontaine said. “We’re feeling good right now.
Three stars were Huisman (first), Blanleil (second) and Michael Spring (Chilliwack, third).
Announced attendance was 1,663.
The Chiefs have a tough task ahead this weekend, with back-to-back games against the Penticton Vees.
Chilliwack hosts Penticton Friday (7 p.m.) before travelling to Penticton Saturday.
Get stats and schedules online at www.bchl.ca.