by Eric Welsh – The Progress
The Chilliwack Chiefs are one of the surprise teams early in the 2017-18 BCHL season.
One night after erasing a three-goal hole in a 4-3 overtime win over the Cowichan Caps, the Chiefs shut out the high powered Wenatchee Wild by a 2-0 count Saturday at Prospera Centre.
The Chiefs were supposed to be a young rebuilding team on a learning curve.
But they are proving to be very quick studies, with a 5-2 record that has them tied with the Prince George Spruce Kings for the best record in the 17 team league.
Out-shot 12-4 through 20 minutes, the Chiefs escaped the first period with an unlikely 1-0 lead thanks to Harrison Blaisdell.
The 17 year old forward scored just 52 seconds in. Blaisdell tore down the left wing, slammed on the brakes and circled back to the blueline. With no Wenatchee defender within 10 feet of him, the Abbotsford native wound up and launched a slap shot that went iron-and-in behind Wild netminder Austin Park.
Shot total aside, Chilliwack played a solid first period.
They might have led 2-0 if not for a huge save by Park in the last minute. Kevin Wall led a three-on-one rush, flanked on his left by Blaisdell and Ethan Bown. Wall dished to Blaisdell who dished right back. Darting through the right faceoff circle, Wall put a pass across the goal-mouth for Bowen, who was robbed by Park’s right toe.
Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron was razor sharp at the other end. His biggest stops came on Wild points leader Christophe Fillion late in the opening frame. The Quebec native was left uncovered in the slot. He took one shot from above the hash-marks and Caron made the stop. The rebound came back to Fillion who had another try from 10 feet closer, and again, Caron stoned him.
Caron was at it again in the second period.
First it was a save on Lucas Sowder, who had a point-blank chance off a pass from Murphy Stratton. Then it was an even better save on Josh Arnold as Caron took away a sure goal with a lightning quick glove.
Park couldn’t match him at the other end.
At the 3:11 mark, Blaisdell carried the puck down the right wing and, from below the faceoff circle delivered a backhand pass into the goal-mouth.
Carter Wilkie buried the biscuit for his first BCHL goal, and Chilliwack had two goals on just seven shots.
The young Chiefs did a fantastic job locking down the high-powered Wild in the final frame.
Chilliwack limited Wenatchee to nine shots in period three, none of them terribly dangerous. Their stiffest test came with 2:36 to go when a Will Dow-Kenny interference minor put the Wild on the power play. Park came to the bench with just under a minute to play, but the Chiefs were clinical bleeding the final seconds off the clock.
Their penalty kill was a perfect six-of-six on the night.
Caron ended up with 29 saves for the clean sheet and first star honours.
Blaisdell was the second star and Teskink the third, with the Fortis Energy Player of the Game nod going to rookie Jacob Slipec.