Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress
Photo Credit: Foto Shotz
Not often does a team lose in their league championship series and have another crack at the team that vanquished them.
The Chilliwack Chiefs will.
After being bombed 6-1 by the Brooks Bandits in Saturday night’s Western Canada Cup title game, Chilliwack has a Sunday date with Penticton, the team that beat them 1-0 in overtime at Prospera Centre to take the BCHL crown just 11 days ago.
The stakes are huge for both teams, with a Royal Bank Cup berth on the line.
For the Chiefs it’s also a chance to do to the Vees what the Vees did to them. But to do that they’ll have play much, much, much better than they did against the Bandits.
Things were OK through 20 minutes, with Chilliwack carrying the play, out-shooting Brooks 13-7 and getting to the intermission in a 1-1 tie.
The Bandits opened the scoring at 11:54 on a goal by Oliver Chau. A turnover by Chilliwack defenceman Powell Conner had the Chiefs scrambling in their own end. A scrum of skaters ended up in the goal-mouth, screening netminder Mark Sinclair as Chau’s shot came through and beat him glove-side.
Chilliwack evened it up with a Justin Dixson power play goal. Blueliner Carver Watson started the play with a shot on net and Dixson buried the rebound at 14:06.
That’s the last puck that got past Bandits goalie Mitchel Benson, who ended his night with 29 saves.
Things totally fell apart for the Chiefs in the middle frame, with Brooks sniper Connor Jean leading the onslaught. The Michigan native scored twice in the second period, starting with a power play snipe at 2:22. Four minutes later it was Arnaud Vachon skating unchecked through the slot, taking a sweet feed from Kord Pankewicz and snapping the puck past Sinclair with a lightning-quick release.
Cale Makar got on the scoresheet with a goal at 17:25, then set up Jean’s second of the game in the final minute of period two. Working the point on another Brooks, Makar faked a shot and slid the puck to Jean, who rifled a shot under the cross-bar with 15 seconds on the clock.
Chilliwack’s only hope for a comeback came midway through the final frame when Brooks forward Jake Theis was given five and a game for sticking out his knee on Chiefs rookie Powell Connor. Chilliwack bench boss Jason Tatarnic pulled his goalie for a six-on-four advantage then watched Western Canada Cup scoring leader Parker Fou scored the sixth Brooks goal shorthanded into the empty cage.
The Alberta champions killed the clock from there, securing the tournament title and sending Chilliwack to tomorrow’s do-or-die match vs Penticton.
Game time at the South Okanagan Events Centre is 4 p.m.