A new goaltender made his Chilliwack Chiefs debut Friday night, but the end result was the same for the struggling club. Winnipeg native Spencer Tremblay was between the pipes for Chilliwack, yielding four goals in a 4-3 loss to the Victoria Grizzlies at Prospera Centre.
The Grizzlies got to the goalie three times in a rough opening frame.
Toronto native Jesse Schwartz got the scoring started at 10:31. Mitch Meek started the play with a shot from the point. As Tremblay tried to cover the loose puck with his catchers mitt, Myles Fitzgerald took a whack, knocking it over to Schwartz.
He tapped it in for his 10th of the year.
Tremblay looked shaky on the next two goals. Defenceman Kevin Massy scored his second of the season at 12:59 on an off-the-back-foot just-put-it-on-net wrister from the right point. Less that 30 seconds later, Ontario native Rory McGuire beat Tremblay on an unscreened shot from the high slot, giving the Grizzlies a 3-0 lead.
Kiefer McNaughton provided one highlight for the home team in the opening 20.
After teammate Carter Cochrane was waylaid on a high hit by Reece Costain, McNaughton jumped to his defence. Costain, playing in his first junior A game after spending the last couple months in junior B, was overmatched by McNaughton, who nearly had Costain out on his feet when the linesmen finally jumped in.
The teams traded goals in a lively middle frame.
Kyle Westeringh got the Chiefs on the board at 7:42, scoring his first of the season off a goal-mouth scramble. Jake Hand earned the assist with a sharp angle shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle. Victoria keeper Alec Dillon let the puck drop into the blue paint where Westeringh poked it across the line.
The Grizzlies answered back at 14:51.
On a power play, well-traveled ex-Chief Garrett Forster leaned into a slap shot at the right faceoff dot, blasting the puck over Tremblay’s glove for his first of the year.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Victoria 26-25.
The Chiefs looked like they were going quietly to their 15th loss of the season until Tibbet took over in the third period.
The veteran got the Chiefs with two at 10:51, collecting his fourth of the year in highlight reel fashion. On a solo rush, the 20-year-old powered around Victoria D-man Shawn McBride, cut hard to the net and finished in-tight with a perfectly placed shot over Dillon’s shoulder.
With 3:08 to go, Tibbet did much the same thing, dangling around Massy and going hard to the net. Dillon made the stop, but Andrew Silard buried the rebound.
Tremblay came to the bench for the extra attacker with a minute to go, and Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl called timeout to rest his big guns.
Austin Plevy came closest to tying it up. Off a faceoff to the right of the Victoria net, the Langley native scorched a one timer that Dillon grabbed with a lightning-quick glove.
Dillon’s Grizzlies escaped to the final whistle, improving their record to 13-7-2-1.
Chilliwack fell to 5-15-1-2.
Announced attendance was 1,498.
The three stars were Massy (first), Tibbet (second) and Fitzgerald (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was McNaughton.
The Chiefs host the Coquitlam Express Saturday night at Prospera Centre with a 7 p.m. puck drop.