Chilliwack – Jordan Kawaguchi’s overtime snipe sent the Chilliwack Chiefs on to the third round of the BCHL playoffs with a 3-2 win, completing a five-game defeat of Wenatchee in the Mainland division final.
It’s often said the hardest thing to do in hockey is close out a playoff series, and the Wild fought tooth and nail to stay alive.
One bounce the other way and this series may well have been heading back to Wenatchee for game six.
As it is, the Chiefs have sailed through two rounds playing just one game more than the minimum, leaving them in good shape for the double-round-robin third round that awaits.
The Chiefs took just 79 seconds to open the scoring in this one.
Rylan Bechtel made a nice play to spring Kale Kane and Jordan Kawaguchi on a two-on-one rush. Kane fed the puck to Kawaguchi who cut across the goal-mouth and tucked it behind Wenatchee keeper Chase Perry.
The Wild answered back with a power play goal at 8:45.
Charlie Combs did the damage with a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that found its way through several players and past Chilliwack netminder Aidan Pelino.
It was 1-1 after one.
A lacklustre second period had zero goals and was notable only for Daniel Nachbaur’s attempt to antagonize Chiefs forward Kale Kane. A wrestling match more than a fight, Kane took Nachbaur to the ice and earned two minutes for roughing. Nachbaur got four for roughing plus a 10 minute misconduct.
The Chiefs had 15 shots to their name early in the third period as they struggled to crack Wenatchee’s defensive shell.
Perry held Chilliwack at bay with a huge save, robbing Darien Craighead as he one-timed a Jeremy Germain pass.
Moments later Kohen Olischefski pinged the puck off the post and you could feel momentum starting to tilt towards the home team as the final frame continued.
It was a bizarre play that produced Chilliwack’s second goal at 9:53.
Dennis Cholowski picked up the puck to the left of his own net and scooted up the ice. The future National Hockey League draft pick tried a shot, or a pass, or maybe he just lost the puck — only he knows for sure.
Whatever it was, the puck went towards the net where Perry badly misplayed it.
The goalie whiffed on it and the goal horn let him know he’d mussed up as the disc found the back of the net.
Cholowski’s unassisted tally put the Wild into full-on desperation mode, and they netted the equalizer with 5:32 to go. Wenatchee’s relentless forecheck and sloppy D by Chilliwack conspired to produce a blue-chip chance for Bryan Yoon.
The 18 year old defenceman rifled the puck past Pelino from 20 feet out, sending this game to overtime.
The Chiefs got a power play early in OT when Jesse Lansdell was hit into the boards from behind by Austin Chavez, and made the Wild pay.
Kawaguchi ended the series on something of a lucky bounce. Seconds after Yoon failed to clear the puck, Kane got a shot on net. It hit something or someone, and the rolling puck found its way to Captain K.
Gooch popped it past Perry to move his team on to the third round.
For the second straight year, Chilliwack is the Mainland division champ and they’ll get back to action early next week against the Island division champion Nanaimo Clippers and the winner of the Penticton/West Kelowna series.
OFF TO THE ROUND ROBIN
The Chiefs and the Nanaimo Clippers have advanced to the third round of the playoffs and will be joined by either the West Kelowna Warriors or the Penticton Vees who are currently tied 2-2 in the Interior Division final.
See two potential schedules for the Chiefs at the bottom of this page.
Explanation of round three from the BCHL’s website:
With three teams still alive for Round 3, they are seeded 1, 2 and 3 based on their regular-season points total and a unique format is employed.
The Double-Round-Robin format sees each team host the other two teams for one game each in its own building. This makes for six games, each team playing twice at home and twice on the road.
The main idea of the Double-Round-Robin is to eliminate one team, with the two survivors going to the Fred Page Cup BCHL Finals.
3 WINS TO GET IN
That’s all you need to remember if your team makes it to the Round 3. As soon as your team wins three games in the Double-Round-Robin, they immediately qualify for the Finals. The first team to achieve three wins in this round has home-ice advantage in the Finals.
Once one team has advanced to the Fred Page Cup Finals, the 2 remaining teams will go back and forth in a home and home format until one team achieves 3 wins. Wins that were earned prior to the first team advancing will count as the 2 remaining teams play off.
If all three teams are tied after the first six games are played, a Page playoff format will be adopted for the remaining 2 games.
Should the Penticton Vees advance, the following schedule will be followed (subject to change once one team reaches three wins)
Tuesday March 29th: Chilliwack at Penticton
Thursday March 31st: Nanaimo at Chilliwack
Saturday April 2nd: Penticton at Nanaimo
Monday April 4th: Nanaimo at Penticton
Wednesday April 6th: Penticton at Chilliwack
Friday April 8th: Chilliwack at Nanaimo
April 10th if necessary: Chilliwack at Penticton
April 12th if necessary: Nanaimo at Chilliwack
Should the West Kelowna Warriors advance, the following schedule will be followed (subject to change once one team reaches three wins)
Tuesday March 29th: West Kelowna at Chilliwack
Thursday March 31st: Nanaimo at West Kelowna
Saturday April 2nd: Chilliwack at Nanaimo
Monday April 4th: Nanaimo at Chilliwack
Wednesday April 6th: Chilliwack at West Kelowna
Friday April 8th: West Kelowna at Nanaimo
April 10th if necessary: West Kelowna at Chilliwack
April 12th if necessary: Nanaimo at West Kelowna