Chilliwack, BC – The Chilliwack Chiefs have carried an aura of invincibility through most of this season when playing on home ice. Twenty three games had been played at Prospera Centre coming into Sunday night and just four of them were losses. But no one told Sunday night’s opponents, the West Kelowna Warriors, that this is the place road teams come to die.
Led by former Chief Garrett Forster, the visitors weren’t the least bit intimidated by the home team nor its faithful fans, skating off with a 6-3 win.
This game waited 27:50 for its first goal.
Forster pulled the trigger to give his Warriors a 1-0 lead, set up by Liam Blackburn. Blackburn avoided an Olivier Arseneau check in the right corner and fed a centering pass into the goal-mouth. Forster bang-banged it home for his 17th of the year.
But West Kelowna’s lead was short-lived.
On the very next shift, Vimal Sukumaran camped in the crease and provided enough of a disturbance to let Austin Adam’s wrister from the point sneak past Warriors keeper Keelan Williams.
Puck luck had Kelowna back on top with 7:34 to play in period two.
A Jonathan Desbiens wrister that would normally be an easy stop for Chiefs goalie Aidan Pelino hit traffic on its way to the net and found its way to the stick of Kylar Hope. Pelino couldn’t recover his positioning fast enough to cover the gaping hole on the left side of the net. Hope couldn’t have missed if he’d tried, burying his 23rd of the year.
Desbiens scored on a wraparound at 15:02 and Forster added his second of the game just 66 seconds later, breaking the game open.
Pelino had a seat on the bench to start the final frame, replaced by Matteo Esposito.
Chilliwack got a brief spark 3:01 into period three when Linden Hora got them within two. Kelowna defenceman Jake Harrison committed a boo-boo steps inside his own blueline, fanning on a pass attempt.
Ryan Forbes pounced on the turnover and zipped down the right wing, flinging a centering pass across the slot to Hora. The Kelowna native snapped it past Williams for his seventh of the year, and fourth in his last three outings.
Esposito kept his crew in it with a huge stop at the seven minute mark, thwarting Forster on a breakaway.
But the 20 year old got his hat-trick anyways, scoring six minutes later on a two-on-one rush.
On a late power play, Chilliwack head coach Jason Tatarnic pulled his goalie for a six-on-four advantage. His plan was spoiled when Brett Mennear sailed a long-distance shot into the empty cage.
Jesse Lansdell scored a last minute goal to make the scoreboard look a little better.
The Chiefs saw their record slip to 29-11-4-2, still good for first place in the Mainland division standings. But their lead over the second place Wenatchee Wild and Langley Rivermen is down to five points.
Chilliwack does hold two games in hand on Wenatchee and three on Langley.
The three stars were Forster (first), Williams (second) and Hora (third).
Attendance was 2,203.