The post-Christmas slate has not started well for the Chilliwack Chiefs.
The BCHL squad dropped a 1-0 decision to the Merritt Centennials at Friday night, their second home-ice loss to an Interior conference rival in the last three days.
The Chiefs were out-shot 18-7 in the opening period of this one, and gave up the opening goal with 1:03 left in the opening frame.
Merritt’s Brent Fletcher got credit for his seventh of the year, though it was more of an own-goal by Chilliwack. Under duress in his own zone, Chiefs forward Spencer Graboski chipped the puck towards his own net. Caught off-guard, netminder Bryton Udy let it by, sending the Cents to the break with a 1-0 lead.
Chilliwack tightened up defensively in the second period, limiting Merritt to just four shots on goal.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs generated just five of their own. The best scoring chance belonged to Jeremy Gossard, who camped in the slot and rang a wrister off the iron where the crossbar and left goal-post meet.
Chilliwack’s special teams ran hot and cold in this one. The Chiefs power play had several opportunities to make a difference, but came up empty on five chances.
On the flip-side, Chilliwack’s penalty killers were airtight, snuffing out three Merritt power plays. The crucial kill came midway through period three as the Chiefs survived a Mike Berry interference minor. With 2:03 remaining, the Chilliwack power play got one last chance. Merritt’s Dustin Lebrun was sent off for a trip, and Udy came out with 1:35 remaining to give the Chiefs a six-on-four.
But the closest Chilliwack came was a Derek Huisman turn and shoot that went three inches wide of the right goal post.
The Cents survived, with Merritt netminder Lino Chimienti stopping 20 shots for his second shutout of the season.
The three stars were Evan Stack (Merritt, first), Josh Hansen (Chilliwack, second) and Chimienti (third).
Announced attendance was 1,939.