The hottest team in the Western Hockey League kept rolling Wednesday night, as the Chilliwack Bruins blanked the Vancouver Giants 2-0 at the Pacific Coliseum.
The win extended Chilliwack’s franchise record winning streak to six games. With seven wins in their last eight, the Bruins (31-30-2-3) now sit alone in sixth place in the Western conference standings, just four back of the fifth place Giants.
Who saw that coming two weeks ago?
Tyler Stahl set the physical tone early in this one, steamrolling Slovakian forward Andrej Stastny with a devastating check at the Vancouver blueline. And for once, the Bruins blueliner didn’t have to back up a hit with a fight, keeping his gloves on as Giants forward Michael Burns took two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
That was the first of three straight Vancouver penalties. Chilliwack’s power play came very close to scoring on the second one. Just two seconds after a Nathan Burns interference minor elapsed, Robin Soudek nabbed the rebound from a Brandon Manning shot and punched it past Giants keeper Mark Segal for his 21st of the year.
Jamie Crooks had a superb chance on the third power play (James Henry, tripping) when Kevin Sundher sprung the 18-year-old on a clear-cut breakaway. Crooks beat Segal but not the goal-post, striking iron as the scored stayed 1-0.
Shots on goal in period one were dead even at 8-8.
Stahl was at it again early in period two, his shoulder connecting with Michael Burns’ chin on an apparently clean hit that left the Giant down and out. Burns stayed down for several minutes before being taken off the ice on a stretcher.
He did not return, a big blow to a Vancouver team already missing star forward Brendan Gallagher (concussion).
The Giants were out for blood as play resumed. James Henry started the chaos by jumping Manning, and two of them went after Stahl in front of the Vancouver bench. Somehow, Stahl ended up getting booted from the game, and somehow the Giants ended up with a power play. Crooks was also ejected, as were Giants Neil Manning and Greg Lamoreaux.
A couple minutes later, Chilliwack’s Curt Gogol earned a five-minute checking-from-behind major for a hit on Vancouver D-man Wes Vannieuwenhuizen. Before departing, Gogol dropped the mitts and laid a beating on Matt Bellerive.
Stastny missed a wide-open net on the ensuing power play, and the Bruins escaped unscathed.
Shots on goal in period two favoured Vancouver 16-12, but Chilliwack carried their 1-0 lead to the third.
Reigning CHL goaltender of the week Lucas Gore was a busy guy early in period three, with Vancouver recording the first six shots. But the Bruins proved it’s quality and not quantity that counts, scoring on their first shot of the final frame. Soudek did the heavy lifting, dangling his way to the net before dishing to Czech countryman Roman Horak.
The New York Rangers prospect sniped his 24th of the season, providing the insurance goal.
Gore stopped 36 shots in total to record his fourth shutout of the season, sending the Giants to their fourth straight loss.
The three stars were Gore (first), Soudek (second) and Stastny (third).
The Bruins stay on the road, visiting the Seattle Thunderbirds Friday night. Chilliwack has home games Saturday (Vancouver) and Sunday (Kelowna).
Puck drop for Saturday’s game is 7 p.m.