Let the Great Goal Hunt of 2013 begin.
The Chilliwack Chiefs scored just twice during last weekend's Bauer Showcase, but managed to escape with a point after a late Kurt Black goal earned them a tie against a strong Vernon Vipers team.
In their home opener against Powell River, the Chiefs looked like a team stocked with players who had never played a regular season British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) game.
But the signs of inexperience weren't the worst part of the 6-1 loss.
While the early season jitters might have been excusable, a lacklustre effort was not-not with head coach Harvey Smyl still trying to figure out his roster and more than a hundred scouts in the building.
But there the Chiefs were, beaten to every puck, losing battles along the boards and falling behind 3-0 on home ice before the season was 13 minutes old.
The scoreline got worse before it got better, and by the time Andrew Silard scored for the Chiefs late in the second period, the Kings had put five times past Chiefs starter Josh Halpenny and the game was already over.
Facing an even tougher challenge Sunday night in a Vernon Vipers team getting ready to host next spring's Royal Bank Cup, the Chiefs put up a better effort and fought their way to a 1-1 tie.
That single point came because of the work of two players who didn't play a minute in Saturday's loss.
The Vipers scored midway through the first period, but Demico Hannoun's opener was the only puck that would get past Chiefs netminder Lyndon Stanwood, who showed why Chilliwack traded for the 20-year-old veteran.
Stanwood, and tighter defensive play from his teammates, kept the Chiefs within a goal until midway through the third period, when Black-who was a healthy scratch Saturday-beat Vipers goalie Austin Smith to knot the score.
Neither team could find the net in an overtime that included both four-on four and three-on-three play.
Plenty of powerplay opportunities The Chiefs' inability to score was not due to a lack of power play opportunities. Chilliwack went 0-for-10 with the man advantage over the weekend. They weren't the only ones to have early season struggles up a man. Vernon went 0-for-six Sunday, while the Kings scored on just one of their five opportunities.
It was hardly an anomaly; the 16 teams playing at the showcase last weekend converted on just 14 per cent of their power play chances.
Long road trip this weekend The Chiefs get a chance to make amends and bond as a team this weekend as they make the long trip north to Prince George for a pair of games Friday and Saturday.
The Spruce Kings also had a difficult showcase, losing to both Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo. After the northern road trip, the Chiefs have two weeks off before they play again in late September.
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