The Chilliwack Chiefs will live to fight another day.
Facing elimination Saturday night in game five of their BCHL Fred Page Cup final series, the Chiefs came up with an inspired effort, winning 4-2 at Prospera Centre.
Jordan Kawaguchi led the way with a four point night. In what may have been his last game on home ice, the captain helped his team rally from an early deficit after a horrendous start left them in a two-goal hole.
Penticton’s Nicholas Jones opened the scoring just 92 seconds in, set up by James Miller. Leading a two-on-one rush down the left wing, the Vees D-man delivered a pass across the slot to Jones who put a lighting quick shot over the glove of Chilliwack goaltender Mark Sinclair.
Jones was the playmaker on the second Penticton goal, saucering a pass from the right faceoff dot across the goal-mouth to Taylor Sanheim, who was left alone for an absurdly easy tap-in.
“We didn’t come out very strong, but we felt we could overcome that,” said forward Anthony Vincent. “We just had to get back to playing our style and things would turn out our way.”
Chilliwack bench boss Jason Tatarnic quickly called timeout to settle his troops, and delivered a strongly worded message along those lines.
“What he said word for word I can’t really repeat it,” Vincent said with a grin. “That was our wake up call right there.”
The Chiefs were a different team for the rest of the period and game, cutting the Vees lead in half on a goal by Anthony Vincent. The Connecticut kid took a pass from Jordan Kawaguchi at the right hash-mark and lazered a water-bottle popper over the mitt of Penticton keeper Mathew Robson at 10:25.
Vincent returned the favour on their next shift, setting up Gooch for his BCHL-leading 17th of the playoffs. Taking a feed from his linemate, Gooch cut across the goal-mouth and lifted a backhand shot over Robson as he stretched from post to post.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Penticton 8-6.
Chilliwack’s big line sniped the game winning goal early in period two. Kawaguchi, Vincent and Kohen Olischefski spent an entire shift buzzing around the Vees zone until the puck found its way to Colin Bernard at the blueline. The big D-man put a shot on net, beating Robson on a shot the goalie never saw through a crowd of players in his crease.
The Chiefs fired 17 shots on net in the middle frame.
Rebounding from his bad start, Sinclair was rock-solid for the last 55:53.
The goalie didn’t need to make any eye-popping stops in the third period as Chilliwack kept its collective foot on the gas pedal and Penticton recorded just eight shots. The Vees pulled Robson with just under two minutes remaining and watched as Kawaguchi iced the win with an empty netter.
“I feel good about going back to Penticton and we have momentum we can hopefully carry over,” Vincent said. “It’s going to be a tough game but I feel we can handle it in their building.”
Final shots on goal favoured Chilliwack 31-26.
The three stars were Vincent (first), Kawaguchi (second) and Nic Jones (third).
The Energy Player of the Game was Linden Hora.
Announced attendance was 2,452.