Cameron Lawson of the Prince George Spruce Kings reaches for the puck between Luke Esposito's skates during the Chilliwack Chiefs game at Prospera Centre on Friday night.

Zielonka nets winner as Chiefs outlast Spruce Kings

The Chilliwack Chiefs ground out a 3-2 win over a tough Prince George Spruce Kings squad in Friday night BCHL action at Prospera Centre.

The Chilliwack Chiefs earned two ugly points Friday night, gutting out a 3-2 overtime win over the visiting Spruce Kings at Prospera Centre.

The Chiefs weren’t anywhere near their best against their Mainland division foes. But two Spencer Graboski goals got them to overtime, where trade deadline pickup Philip Zielonka got the winner.

Chilliwack got the only goal in a fast-paced first period that featured plenty of dangles and chances at both ends.

Graboski opened the scoring at 12:36, scoring his ninth of the season on a power play.

PG defenceman Karan Toor set it up with a two minute hooking minor. On the power play, Chiefs blueliner Shay Laurent made a nice pass from the left point, and Graboski roofed a top-shelf sharp-angle shot from the base of the right faceoff circle.

Shots on goal through 20 minutes were even at 13-13.

As second period was the polar opposite of the first, bland and boring.

The visitors got the only goal at 7:17 on a power play. The Chiefs put themselves in a hole with back-to-back minors to Zielonka (hooking) and David Thompson (check from behind). One second after Zielonka returned to the ice, Lyndon Martell sniped a shot through a crowd for his sixth of the season.

Thompson, by the way, was given an automatic game misconduct along with the minor.

The rest of the period was a scrambly mess.

Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured the Chiefs 23-21.

The turning point in this came came midway through the final frame. With nine minutes remaining, the Spruce Kings took a potentially costly penalty for too many men.

But instead of turning the tide for the home team, it turned the tide against the Chiefs.

Coltyn Hansen nabbed the puck in the neutral zone and flew down the left wing. Steaming through the faceoff circle, he caught Chilliwack goalie Mitch Gillam leaning too far to the right, and put a perfectly placed shot over his left shoulder.

The shorthanded goal, his 11th of the year, looked like it would stand up as the winner.

But Chilliwack was gifted a late power play when Kevin Guiltinan took two for tripping at 18:02. Gillam came to the bench with 1:30 remaining.

With 51.8 ticks remaining, Zielonka put a weak shot on net, and Graboski chipped the puck up and over PG netminder Kirk Thompson, sending the game to OT.

The Spruce Kings almost won it in the first minute of four-on-four when Gillam gave the puck away to Shayne Morrissey behind the Chilliwack net. But Gillam recovered, diving across the cage to keep Morrissey from stuffing in the wraparound.

The Chiefs were gifted another power play in the extra session, with Bryant Christian flagged for hooking.

Chilliwack made it count. From the left faceoff dot, Alex Perron-Fontaine floated a cross-ice pass to Zielonka.

Thompson tried desperately to get across, but Zielonka put it up and over, his 21st of the year ending the game.

The three stars were Kirk Thompson (Prince George, first), Graboski (second) and Ben Masella (Chilliwack, third).

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Mathieu Tibbett.

Announced attendance was 2,593.

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