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Chiefs Win Playoff Preview With Express

Chilliwack – (FYI Announced attendance was 3,989, 28 shy of the franchise record). Jordan Kawaguchi and Aaron O’Neill both scored twice as the Chief doubled the Coquitlam Express 8-4 at Prospera Centre Saturday. The win was the seventh straight for Chiefs.

These teams know they’ll meet in the first round of the BCHL playoffs starting next weekend, and so it was necessary to ‘send messages.’

After every whistle.

The result? Entertaining hockey when they actually played and a ridiculous number of face-washes/crosschecks/slashes/fights/ otherwise.

The Express opened the scoring 127 seconds into this one.

Colton Kerfoot drew the assist with a fling-it-on-net shot from the left wing wall. Coquitlam captain Jackson Cressey crashed the crease and tapped the puck past Chilliwack netminder Matteo Esposito.

The Chiefs battled back on Aaron O’Neill’s breakaway goal at 3:34.

Credit Rylan Bechtel with a nice stretch pass to spring No. 18, who finished with a deft backhand through the legs of Express keeper Lawson Fenton.

But just 40 seconds later the visitors were back on top when Mitch Newsome took the puck hard to the net on a rush down the left wing, punching it past Esposito for his eighth of the year.

The Express had two goals on two shots.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, chucked pucks at Fenton with little result until late in the opening frame.

It’s hard to not score on a two-on-none rush, harder still when it’s led by Jordan Kawaguchi. Chilliwack’s captain and one of the BCHL’s most lethal snipers was flanked by Kale Kane as he stormed in alone.

To his credit, Fenton didn’t curl up into a little ball. The goalie stood tall and didn’t so much as flinch as captain K ripped a blocker side shot inside the left post for his team-leading 42nd of the year.

The see-saw tilted back in Coquitlam’s favour 3:23 into the middle frame.

Darting into the Express zone, Vimal Sukumaran left a drop pass intended for teammate Rylan Bechtel. But before the Chilliwack D-man could reach it, Alex Ambrosio had the puck heading the other way. Out-racing Bechtel down the right wing, Ambrosio lost his balance and fell. From his butt, he still managed to throw a centering pass into the goal-mouth where Kerfoot finished for his 24th of the year.

An already chippy game reached a new level of grump a few shifts later as Chilliwack’s Kane and Coquitlam’s Newsome dropped the mitts next to the Express net. Pound for pound a kid you do not want to mess with, Kane served his overmatched foe a platter of rights and threw him to the ice.

Both players were tossed from the game.

Sukumaran scored on the next shift to knot the score at 3-3 and set off World War III behind the Express net.

Everyone except the goalies was involved. When Bechtel was sucker-punched by Coquitlam’s Taylor Green, he brought the big blueliner to his knees and the crowd to its feet with a series of right-handed bombs.

Both players were tossed.

On the next shift, Chilliwack’s O’Neill drove Fenton into the left goal post , setting off World War IV behind the the Express net.

Coquitlam’s Nicholas Coltura and Chilliwack’s Mark Esposito were tossed from the game.

The Express came away from all of this with a five on three for 37 seconds, did nothing on the power play and watched Chilliwack take its first lead at 11:33.

Olischefski ripped a shot from the right faceoff circle past Fenton for his 13th of the year, which was quickly followed by World War V. This center ice scrum saw Olischefski and Coquitlam’s Mathew Michie dealt 10 minute misconducts, with Michie raising his arms to the jeering crowd as he left.

Shots on goal through 40 hockey minutes (about 800 in real time) favoured the Chiefs 24-17.

Kawaguchi’s second of the game 21 seconds into the final frame briefly gave Chilliwack a 5-3 lead, but the Express answered right back on a Blake Hayward tally.

Then, another strange moment.

Zach Giuttari collected the rebound of a Kawaguchi shot and loaded up to shoot. Someone, presumably an official, blew a whistle clearly a split second before he fired, but the goal counted anyways as he went top shelf.

Giuttari earned everyone in the building a voucher for two cookies from Subway on ‘Score Six Saturday.’

O’Neill added Chilliwack’s seventh snipe at 8:23 and Dennis Cholowski struck at 11:57 to wrap up the scoring.

Though the game featured 12 goals, the penalty summary was much, much, much longer and the Chiefs (38-12-4-3) will hope for a more sedate Sunday nighter when they host the Victoria Grizzlies (23-30-4-0) tomorrow at 4 p.m.

The three stars were Kawaguchi (first), O’Neill (second) and Jeremy Germain (third).

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Linden Hora.


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