The second period of last Wednesday's game against the Coquitlam Express was just about the worst 20 minutes imaginable for the Chilliwack Chiefs.
If the Express had only outscored the Chiefs 3-0 in the period it would be bad enough. But not only did Coquitlam tie the game, take the lead and then net what proved to be the game winning goal-all in less than 10 minutes-but the Chiefs also lost their leading goal scorer to what looks to be a serious injury when Josh Hansen left the game with a knee problem
The Chiefs had opened the scoring midway through the first on Spencer Graboski's sixth goal of the year. After losing to the Trail Smoke Eaters in their last game, the Chiefs looked set to return to their winning ways and outshot the Express 16-5 in the opening period.
But Coquitlam turned the tables in the second and Express net-minder Cole Huggins held the fort in the third, allowing only a later Trevor Hills goal.
The second period had Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl concerned with both the play and the health of his hockey team.
"Right now we're making some mistakes that are really costing us," he said, blaming his team's poor second period on a lack of focus.
Asked if the Chiefs could have grown complacent at the top of the BCHL standings, Smyl said that could be one of several factors contributing to just the Chiefs' second two-game losing streak this season.
"There are really no excuses," he said. We need to be way better than we have been."
At the same time, the Chiefs face the prospect of trying to replace the offence of their leading goal scorer.
The full extent of Hansen's injury is not known, but Smyl said Friday that he expects the Chilliwack forward to be out of the lineup for at least four weeks.
While Hansen no longer leads the BCHL in goals, his 18 markers are tops on the Chiefs and he had combined with Austin Plevy and Luke Esposito to form one of the league's top lines.
The problem is magnified by the fact that Hansen is just one of several Chiefs forward battling an injury. Ryan Donohoe has missed eight games this year with shoulder problems and hasn't played since Nov. 23 in Merritt. Jaret Babych and Mathieu Tibbet also both missed Wednesday's game with concussions. Donohoe, Babych, Hansen and Tibbet have combined for 33 goals this season, a full third of the Chief's offence.
And while he's not a forward, offensive blueliner Alexandre Per-ron-Fontaine-who has 13 points in just 15 games this season-also missed the game with a shoulder injury.
A depleted forward core will put more strain on the offence, but it will also give more opportunities to players who might be asking Santa Claus for power play time.
"We've put other kids in certain minutes and bigger minutes and our expectation is for them to grow," Smyl said. "We have other players on our team who haven't got the minutes [Hansen] has and we're looking for them to find a way."
Smyl, though, is concerned by the effect injuries will have both in the short and long term.
"It's a worry for us to have as many as we've had and a lot of times, when you get into that groove, you have [injuries] the rest of the year as well, and that's alarming," he said.
"The fact that we're 10 days off and we're breaking for nine days, I guess the timing is good for that, but we still have games in between there and still have had games that are hurting us a little bit.