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Chiefs Take Season Opener 5-3 over Langley

Courtesy of Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress

Chilliwack’s special teams were special in the team’s BCHL season opener Sunday night, powering the Chiefs to a 5-3 road win in Langley.

Chilliwack got three power play goals plus a shortie from Kyle Penney as they beat their Mainland division rivals at the George Preston Arena.

Chilliwack went three for eight with the man advantage, taking an early lead on PP goals by Joey Larson and Cooper Moore.

“I’m definitely happy with the power play because this early in the year, you don’t always have the time to work on that area of the game,” said Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney. “We’re spending so much time teaching these kids to defend and play away from the puck, and there’s not much time to go over special teams.

“A lot of a good power play is chemistry and experience too, so you never know where it’s going to go when your team hasn’t played many games.”

Langley starter Braedon Fleming was lifted 2:50 into period two after Penney’s shorthanded snipe, ending his night with 10 saves on 13 shots.

“I really liked Kyle’s game last night,” Maloney said. “He’s pretty mature for his age and he’s always thinking about where he needs to be on the ice.

“He’s not the most flashy player out there but he’s reliable and I think he’s going to be a big part of our season.”

Kristian Lyon replaced Fleming in the Rivermen net and stopped the bleeding after Penney’s goal, making nine second period stops. Ryan Helliwell got Langley on the board with a power play goal midway through the middle frame.

Chilliwack’s Brett Willits, Langley’s Tristan Fraser and Chilliwack’s Ethan Bowen scored rapid-fire early in the third period and the Chiefs led comfortably at 5-2.

Fraser scored again at 10:19 to wrap up the scoring.

Chilliwack’s Kolby Thornton stopped 25 pucks for his first BCHL win.

“He is drawing interest from some (NCAA) schools already, and that’s neat to see,” Maloney said. “It’s great for a kid coming from another league to have instant success and get noticed right away.”

Mathieu Caron wasn’t even dressed, with Dylan Black slotting in as the backup goalie.

“The timeline for Mathieu, he’s actually a month ahead of schedule and we didn’t want to push it any further,” Maloney said. “He’s been practicing in full and we look for him to come with us to the Island this week.”

The Chiefs remain on the road for their next three games, boarding the bus for a three game swing through the Coastal conference.

Chilliwack visits Powell River Friday night followed by Cowichan Valley Saturday night and Nanaimo Sunday afternoon.

Their first home game is Sept. 20 versus Prince George.

“The timing for this trip is perfect and it’s by design,” Maloney noted. “We went up to Prince George early last year and stuck them in a tough environment to play.

“We went up there and took some licks early. You always want wins, but you also want them to experience what it takes to play at this level, and there’s no better place to do that than heading into Powell River.”