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Chiefs bump slump, beat Spruce Kings again

Connor Milburn and Nick Cherkowski each had a goal and an assist as the Chilliwack Chiefs defeated the Prince George Spruce Kings 4-1 Tuesday night at the Chilliwack Coliseum.

The Chiefs dominated the Spruce Kings this season going 7-0-1 in the season series and the latest win ended a five-game losing skid in the process. Chilliwack needs just three more points to secure home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. They could also clinch it with a loss by Surrey Thursday night against Prince George and a win over the Eagles Friday night.

Tommy Lyons opened the scoring three minutes into the first period snapping home his 16th of the season to give Chilliwack a 1-0 lead. Peter Reynolds and Nikita Nesterenko, who left the game due to an illness after the opening frame, drew the helpers on the goal.

Chilliwack outshot Prince George 15-4 after one period of play.

Milburn extended the Chiefs lead to 2-0 at the 8:33 mark of the second period before Arlo Merritt made it 3-0 just over three minutes later. Nolan Welsh got Prince George on the board late in the period after goaltender Mathieu Caron made the save off the shot but in the process of trying to squeeze and freeze play ended jarring the puck free in the blue paint and was unable to reach back to stop the puck before it crossed the line.

Cherkowski scored his 2nd of the campaign in the third period to give Chilliwack a 4-1 lead at the 7:58 mark. The line of Milburn, Cherkowski and Brett Rylance was buzzing all night long getting dangerous looks on goal and propelling the offense on this night.

Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney and his coaching staff of Brad Rihela and Andrew Shaw juggled the lines heading into this game to try and jump start something offensively and the moves worked.

Caron made 19 of 20 saves on the night earning his 17th win of the season. The Brown University commit started all eight games against the Spruce Kings this year.

16-year old defenseman Hudson Thornton, who captured the BCHL’s High School Player of the Month for January, dropped the flippers with 6’4 Spruce Kings power forward Mason Reeves in the third period for his first career fight in the BCHL.

The Chiefs now hit the road for three in a row starting Friday night in Surrey, Saturday night in Wenatchee, and Monday afternoon in Surrey again. The Chiefs return to action on home ice Wednesday February 19 when they play host to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

You can catch all the play-by-play action with Vanni De Bartolo and Tyler Garrah on Produce Gone Wild Chiefs hockey February 19th against Salmon Arm beginning with the pre-game show at 6:35pm.

Written by: Vanni De Bartolo, Chiefs Play-by-Play broadcaster