In a game you had to see to believe, the Chilliwack Chiefs beat the Trail Smoke Eaters 13-5 at Prospera Centre Saturday night.
The Chiefs bumped an 11 game losing skid in style, equaling a franchise record for goals in a game. Thirteen Chilliwack skaters had at least one goal or assist, giving the team the greatest gift they could ask for heading into the Christmas break, confidence.
The two worst defensive teams in the BCHL played according to script right from the opening puck-drop, trading goals 63 and 93 seconds in.
Jarret Babych got the home team on the board first, but Trail equalized on a Sean Davies wrister from the point that snuck through Chiefs keeper Josh Halpenny.
The Chiefs regained the lead at 3:39 on a goal by Mathieu Tibbet. Cooper Rush got the assist with a powerful slap shot that missed on the left side, hit the end boards and came out on the right. In an instant, Tibbet collected the puck and fired a sharp-angle shot past Trail keeper Adam Todd for his ninth of the year.
That got the snowball rolling straight downhill for the Smokies stopper.
At 6:40, Chilliwack’s Blake Gober was hooked on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. From the center-ice dot the rookie peeled off to the left then cut back to the middle, finishing with a shot to the bottom right corner.
Ben Butcher got into the act at 11:21, wheeling off the right wall, skating freely into the slot and lazering a shot over Todd’s glove.
Silard scored his eight of the year at 15:25 and Todd was yanked. Backup Kai McDonald came on in relief and found himself the victim of a Butcher highlight-reel tally. The Bellingham native swooped in on a breakaway and finished with a pretty forehand-backhand move, sliding the puck past McDonald at the 16 minute mark.
Less than 90 seconds later, Tibbet led a failed two-on-one rush, but cleaned up in the goal-mouth scramble that followed, poking the puck across the line. After a brief center-ice conference, referee Nick Swaine signaled good-goal.
Unofficially, the Chiefs set a record for goals in a period, out-shooting Trail 20-13.
The teams continued to wear out the goal-lights in the middle frame, with each side scoring four.
Just 50 seconds in, ex-Chief Brandon Volpe ventured in on a solo rush, pulling the puck outside-in on former teammate Carter Cochrane and firing a five-hole shot through Halpenny.
Chilliwack answered back with two in 59 seconds, starting with a shorthanded Tibbet tally at 5:50. With his team killing a penalty and Todd back in net for Trail, Tibbet stormed in on a shorthanded breakaway, finishing with a backhand shot over Todd’s glove. As the penalty expired, Jordan Kawaguchi stepped out of the box and floated a pass to Jake Hand. In alone, he finished in Tibbetian style, roofing a backhand shot for his ninth of the season.
Todd’s night was over, again, and McDonald was back between the pipes for a second time.
After Travis Stephens scored for Trail, Tibbet finished his four-goal night. Austin Plevy was thwarted on a scoring chance, but he collected the puck in the left corner and fed Tibbet in the slot. The 20 year old slid the puck into a wide open net for the 10th Chilliwack goal.
Zach Diamantoni got the 11th on a Chilliwack power play at 12:56, walking the left baseline and squeaking a shot through the legs of McDonald. Diamantoni looked to the heavens, with good reason, having just snapped a 14 game scoring slump.
Trail’s Sheldon Brett wrapped up the second period scoring with a power play snipe at 16:23.
Plevy got the 12th Chilliwack goal 70 seconds into the final frame. The Chiefs captain scored on a one-on-three rush, making a trio of Smokies look silly before beating McDonald.
Trail’s Riley Brandt and Chilliwack’s Mitch Plevy traded late goals to finally wrap up the scoring. Austin Plevy drew the assist on his kid brother’s first BCHL goal.
Announced attendance was 2,247.
The three stars were Tibbet (first), Rush (second) and Plevy (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Silard.
The Chiefs (8-26-1-2) are back in action Dec. 28, visiting the Surrey Eagles. They host the Eagles the following night at Prospera Centre, with a 5 p.m. start.