The Chilliwack Chiefs have discovered a new secret weapon during their current four game winning streak.
His name is Trevor ‘Sudden Death’ Hills, the overtime assassin.
Three times over the last 14 days, the little guy from New York has snuffed out an opponent in OT. On Oct. 28 he sniped a shot past Trail netminder James D’Andrea as the Chiefs vanquished the Smoke Eaters 4-3.
On Nov. 4 he scored on a penalty shot to send the Prince George Spruce Kings packing, and Saturday night he did it again.
With 1:53 gone in overtime, the shifty forward stormed over the Salmon Arm blueline on a seemingly harmless one-on-two rush.
Three seconds later, he had his arms in the air, celebrating his latest game winning goal.
“It started as a one-on-two, but for some reason the other defenceman stepped up and left me one-on-one (with Salmon Arm defender Brendan Kennedy). I was able to beat him toward the net and get a quick shot off that the goalie didn’t expect.”
Hills’ backhander from 15 feet out sailed over the glove of Silverbacks netminder Adam Clark, the latest moment of clutchiness for the 19-year-old BCHL rookie.
“It’s just a bit more room for me to skate when we get to OT and it’s four-on-four or three on three,” Hills said. “There’s just more room for me to go and make plays.”
Hills’ heroics were a great ending to a game that was otherwise pretty drab.
The home side got off to a good start, scoring twice in the first period.
Super rookie Garrett Forster got things started, lighting the lamp just two minutes and 21 seconds in.
Leading a two-on-one rush, the 16-year-old Delta native opted for the shot, going over Clark’s glove for his third of the year.
Jaret Babych drew the only assist on Forster’s tally, then scored one of his own 12 minutes later.
David Bondra set him up, wheeling out of the left corner with a backhand pass into the slot. Babych had time to settle the puck down before picking the top corner for his fourth of the season.
Chilliwack goaltender Mitch Gillam earned his post-game dinner at the other end. The Ontario native turned in an eye-popping stop on Garrett Hendrickson, robbing the Minnesotan with a lightning quick glove hand.
Twice, Gillam made tough kick saves on Devin Muller in tight.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Salmon Arm 10-8.
The tables turned on the goalie and his teammates in period two as the Salmon Arm offence woke up.
Penalties got Chilliwack in trouble when David Thompson (kneeing) and Josh Hansen (tripping) put the Chiefs two men down.
With 20 ticks left in Hansen’s minor, Saskatchewan native Bryce Gervais rifled a top shelf shot past Gillam at 7:58 for his team-leading 15th of the year.
Gervais struck again with 5:25 left in the middle frame.
Devin Muller earned the assist with a shot that clanged off the glass behind the Chilliwack net and took a fortuitous bounce onto the stick of Gervais. The 19-year-old tucked the puck inside the right post to knot the game at 2-2.
“I thought we had a really good first period, but we let up a lot in the second after we got that two-goal lead,” Hills said. “Their power play is really good and that Gervais kid, he really makes plays out there. He’s a good player for them.”
Salmon Arm took the lead with 1:46 left in the second period. With the Chiefs running around in their own zone, Surrey’s Kody Dhaliwal collected the rebound from a Graham McBain shot and beat Gillam short-side for his fifth.
Despite out-shooting Salmon Arm 16-13, Chilliwack trailed 3-2 heading to the final frame.
Things looked bleak in the third period as the Chiefs struggled to generate offence. Whether from bad bounces or bad ice, Chilliwack’s gunners couldn’t get a puck to settle down, and it looked like the visitors were going to be able to nurse their one goal lead.
“We were getting frustrated on the bench,” Hills admitted. “But we knew if we kept working hard we’d get another one. We just needed to get some shots through and get some rebounds.”
As penalties let Salmon Arm back into the game in the second period, penalties helped the Chiefs net the equalizer in the third.
A series of fouls landed Chilliwack a four-on-three power play, and Malcolm Gould took advantage of the open ice.
The ex-Quesnel Millionaire vacuumed up a loose puck behind the Salmon Arm net and caught Silverbacks netminder Clark napping. Gould got his fifth of the year on a perfectly executed wraparound, sending this game to OT.
And then, Hills did his thing, helping the Chiefs to their third win in three meetings versus Salmon Arm this season.
“You’ve really got to get on the Interior conference teams because you don’t want them catching up to you,” Hills said. “You’ve got to pound them when you can.”
A familiar face was absent behind the bench for both weekend games (Chilliwack beat Langley 5-3 on Friday).
Head coach Harvey Smyl donned his general manager’s hat and headed out of province, leaving assistant coach Doug Ast to run the ship.
“Doug’s a great coach and he rolled the lines pretty well tonight,” Hills said. “He’s been around and he knows what to do.”
The three stars were Michael Spring (Chilliwack, third), Gervais (second) and Babych (first).
Announced attendance was 2,059.
l The Chiefs beat the Langley Rivermen 5-3 Friday night at Prospera Centre in the only meeting between the two teams this year.
Chilliwack got off to another fast start, building a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes on a pair of David Bondra power play snipes.
The Rivermen scored the only goal of the second period (Austin Plevy) and tied the game early in period three on a strike by Ryan Lisowsky.
Hills and Babych scored back-to-back to restore Chilliwack’s two goal lead.
After Chilliwack native Darnell Dyck scored a power play goal for Langley at 13:49, it was left to Bondra to ice the game and secure the hat-trick with an empty netter.
Chiefs super-fan Phil Mante saluted the feat by tossing his mullet onto the ice.
The Chiefs are back in action Thursday night, hoping to extend their winning streak with a victory over the Vernon Vipers.
Chilliwack has had surprising success against the defending Canadian champs this year, taking two of three meetings.
The teams last met Nov. 5, with the Chiefs taking a 5-4 decision at the Wesbuild Centre in Vernon.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.
Chilliwack is on the road Friday, visiting the Merritt Centennials before returning home to host the Westside Warriors Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.