by Eric Welsh – The Progress
The Chilliwack Chiefs came through with a huge win in a big spot Tuesday night, toppling the Prince George Spruce Kings 3-2 at Prospera Centre.
The Chiefs finally cracked PG’s defensive shell, outplaying the visitors and peppering the Spruce King net with 32 shots. Getting the lead proved to be the key. Twice Chilliwack led by two, and Prince George couldn’t catch up once the game opened up.
Chilliwack’s win tied the series 2-2 as the teams head back to PG for game five on Thursday. Tickets for game six Saturday in Chilliwack are on sale now.
It took 28:58 for someone to score, but the goal was worth the wait.
The Chiefs had the Spruce Kings hemmed in their own zone for an entire shift, cycling the puck along the boards. Finally, Ryan Bowen was sprung loose, curling off the left-wing boards into the slot where he rifled an against-the-grain shot past Evan DeBrouwer for his first of the playoffs.
Chilliwack’s lead doubled 89 seconds later on a power play.
From the top of the left faceoff circle, Corey Andonovski fed a cross-ice pass to Bryan Allbee at the right faceoff dot. The Prince George native burned his hometown team, hammering a one-timer past DeBrouwer at 7:29.
On another power play the Allbee dropped to one knee to block a clearing attempt. The puck bounced off his league to Ethan de Jong, who stepped around him before Allbee could recover. With a breakaway from the PG blueline in, de Jong roared in on net, slammed on the breaks and stuffed a forehand shot across the line (barely).
The Chiefs got that back on a beauty of a goal by Jake Gresh. Three seconds after a power play expired, Chilliwack defenceman Powell Connor did a nice job holding a clearing attempt in at the point. The 17 year old slid the puck left to Gresh who was able to drift down into the left faceoff circle before ripping a short-side shot that found daylight under the crossbar.
Through 40 minutes Chilliwack had 29 shots. Prince George had nine and the Spruce Kings were forced to abandon their tight-checking ways in the final frame.
Opening up PG style meant sending one forechecker into the offensive zone and generating eight shots.
They did get within one with 4:37 to play as Nolan Welsh scored his first of the postseason. The Whistler native made his way to the blue paint as de Jong shoveled the puck into the goal crease from behind the net. Welsh chipped the puck past Chenard, and seconds later the Chiefs gave Prince George a power play when Connor was flagged for roughing.
But Chilliwack’s penalty killers came up big, snuffing out the threat.
DeBrouwer came to the bench with just under two minutes remaining and seconds later Chiefs captain Will Calverley hit the outside of the empty net with a backhand shot from his own bench. That didn’t prove costly as his crew killed the remaining 55 seconds and celebrated at center ice.
The three stars were Gresh (First) Bowen (second) and de Jong (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Jared Turcotte.