Three goals in the final minute of regulation time helped the Chilliwack Chiefs shock Surrey 5-3 at Prospera Centre Saturday night.
Mathieu Tibbet led the way with a hat-trick, while Josh Halpenny stole the show in a relief effort between the pipes in a game that featured a heated finish between the two Mainland division rivals.
Tibbet opened the scoring just past the six-minute mark of the first period, sending a wrist shot over Surrey goaltender Bo Didur's right shoulder from the high slot through traffic. The Eagles found an equalizer just over 90 seconds later when Jonah Renouf, after being denied by Chilliwack starter Spencer Tremblay twice earlier in the shift, roofed a wrist shot into the top of the net from just outside the crease.
Joe Drapluk gave the Eagles the lead on a short-handed rush, converting a two-on-one feed from linemate Mitch Fyffe from the right circle to put Surrey in front 2-1 at the intermission. Tremblay though, did not return for the start of the second period for the home side.
The Eagles enjoyed a strong second period, punctuated by Drapluk's second goal of the game on a two-man advantage. Chilliwack captain Tanner Cochrane was assessed a major penalty for spearing minutes earlier after thrusting the blade of his stick into the lower midsection of Surrey forward Anthony Conti after Conti had been sent hurtling into the Chilliwack net.
The Chiefs got a goal back before the second period was done, though, as Tibbet set up Zach Diamantoni on an odd-man rush; the Chief centreman one-handed a shot that glanced in off Didur's arm.
Surrey outshot Chilliwack 17-5 in the second period, and looked poised to increase their lead in the first half of the third were it not for Halpenny, who robbed Eagle captain Danton Heinen twice with glove saves (this after stopping Conti on a pair of point-blank chances in the second period), and was bailed out by his crossbar after Drapluk found himself in space on left wing.
The score remained level until the final minute when, on a Chiefs rush, defenseman Carter Cochrane turned away from the play to deliver a hit on trailing Eagles forward Nathan Renouf at the Surrey blue line. Renouf fell to the ice and lay prone for several moments; the play continued, and Tibbet scored his second of the game on a back-door feed from Diamantoni.
The hit and ensuing goal seemed to unhinge the Eagles, who took a bench minor seconds later. Chilliwack's Tibbet completed the hat-trick just 5 seconds after the penalty to give the home side the lead, before Diamantoni sealed Surrey's fate 8 seconds after his side went ahead.
Both Conti and Renouf left the game and did not return. The Eagles fell to seven points behind third-place Coquitlam in the Mainland division standings after the Express won on home ice Saturday.
My Three Stars:
1. Mathieu Tibbet, Chilliwack
2. Joe Drapluk, Surrey
3. Josh Halpenny, Chilliwack
Up Next: The Eagles go right back to work against Victoria Sunday afternoon in the final home game of the regular season. Game time is 4:00 at South Surrey Arena.