The good vibes are back for the Chilliwack Chiefs after a pair of solid wins last weekend, including a victory over the Mainland Division-leading Surrey Eagles.
The Chiefs knocked off the West Kelowna Warriors 3-1 Friday and came from behind to defeat the Eagles 4-2 Saturday.
With just six games remaining in the regular season, the victories solidified the Chiefs' hold on home ice advantage in the opening round of the fast-approaching BCHL playoffs.
The Chiefs will only go as far as goalie Mitch Gillam will take them. And on Friday, he took them all the way to a desperately needed victory, making 48 saves for the win. The Chiefs were outshot 20-7 in the first period, but went into the dressing room ahead thanks to Gillam and a Shay Laurent wrist shot from the point that eluded screened Warriors netminder Tyler Briggs.
The Chiefs extended their lead in the second courtesy of another defenceman, Cooper Rush, who walked into the high slot and snapped a shot past Briggs for his sixth goal of the year. The Warriors drew to within one with a goal off a quick shot off a second-period faceoff. But despite pouring 19 more shots on goal in the third period, they couldn't beat Gillam again.
For the first time in nearly a month, the Chiefs carried their strong play through the weekend and secured back-to-back wins.
On Saturday, Surrey opened the scoring seven minutes into the game when a deflected wrist shot from the point handcuffed Gillam. But Chilliwack responded immediately. Just 13 seconds after the Eagles had scored, Surrey turned the puck over at their own blue line and Trevor Hills made them pay by shovelling the puck past Eagles netminder Michael San-taguida.
Surrey reclaimed the league before then end of the first after Gillam was stripped of the puck outside of the crease.
The Chiefs, however, didn't cave and Chilliwack's power play bailed their goalie out.
With an Eagle in the box in the second period, Austin Plevy's cross-crease pass went off a Surrey defender's skate in front of the net to tie the game.
And six minutes into the third period, on another power play, Philip Zielonka collected a rebound and forced it by Santaguida for what proved to be the winning goal.
Plevy scored into an empty net with five seconds remaining.
Chilliwack outshot the Eagles 39-24. The Chiefs power play finished two-for-five on the night, while the penalty kill stopped the Eagles on seven man advantage opportunities.
Of the Chiefs' half-dozen remaining games, four are against the Langley Rivermen, who sit in fourth place in the Mainland Division behind the Eagles, Chiefs and Prince George Spruce Kings.
The first of those games goes Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
© Copyright 2013