In their last home game before the Christmas break, the Chilliwack Chiefs saw a modest three game winning streak come to an end with an ugly 4-1 loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.
A solid first period for the Chiefs (16-14-2-2) was followed by a bad final 40.
Mitchell Oliver scored the winning goal for the Bulldogs (9-17-2-4) late in the third period and Alberni Valley goaltender John Hawthorne turned aside 26 shots for the win.
Chilliwack wraps up their pre-holiday slate with a Friday night road game in Langley, limping into the break in desparate need of a reset.
On Teddy Bear/Toque Toss night, a power play goal by Anthony Vincent opened the scoring and sent the stuffies flying.
Will Calverley teed up a one-timer from the right point, sending a screamer into the goal mouth. Skyler Brind’Amour had the first whack at the rebound, but was thwarted by Hawthorne. Camped at the left goal-post, Vincent had the second whack, pushing it across the line for his fifth of the season.
That goal, scored with 5:54 remaining in the first period, sent Vincent’s Chiefs to the break with a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and a 12-6 edge on the shot-clock.
But Chilliwack had four power plays in period one while the Bulldogs had none, and the home team squandered a chance to bury the visitors early.
That came back to bite them early in the middle frame when Brandon Bergado tied the game at 1-1.
Flanked by Tyler Vanuden on a two-on-one rush with Marcus Tesink the lone Chief back, Bergado went with the short-side shot, rifling the puck past the glove of Chilliwack keeper Daniel Chenard.
The Chiefs power play failed them again in a big spot late in period two. With Alberni Valley pressing hard for the go-ahead goal and the home team under siege, Bulldogs penalty minute leader Ryan Steele took a dumb penalty, delivering a blow to the head of Chilliwack defenceman Matt Slick.
But the Chiefs couldn’t make him pay, failing to generate even a single shot with the man advantage.
The Bulldogs out-shot Chilliwack 16-7 in the middle frame and 22-19 through 40 minutes, with Chilliwack going 1 for 6 on the PP.
They would finish 1 for 7.
Alberni Valley was nearly as inept with an extra man.
The Dawgs were gifted a four minute power play early in period three when Kyle Yewchuk was handed a double minor for roughing. They managed just two shots, neither of which made Chenard break a sweat.
But seconds after Yewchuk returned to the ice, Dawson Martin was flagged for tripping and this time the Bulldogs cashed in. Defenceman Mitchell Oliver beat Chenard through a screen on a wrist shot from the point, giving his team the lead with 7:32 to play.
The best moment after that was a glass-shattering hip-check by AV’s Connor Welsh on Chilliwack’s Kaden Pickering at the Bulldog bench. Alberni’s backup goalie, Brock Levebvre, was covered by a wave of glass and it’s a good thing he was wearing a helmet or he’d still be picking fragments out of his hair.
He’ll be finding bits of it in his trapper for weeks.
After a 15 minute break for repairs, there was 4:19 to go when play resumed, over two minutes remaining when Chilliwack coach Jason Tatarnic called timeout and pulled his goalie for an extra attacker, and 1:51 remaining when Alberni Valley’s Bradley Ong scored into the empty net.
Ex-Chief Cole Poliziani added an exclamation point seconds later, popping the puck into the net against his former team to wrap up the scoring.
The three stars were Phareon (first), Vincent (second) and Oliver (third).
The Energy Player of the Game was Jared Turcotte.
Announced attendance was 2,390.