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Chiefs eliminated from playoff picture
The Chilliwack Chiefs will not be playing playoff hockey this spring.
Chilliwack lost both halves of a must-win home-and-home with the Surrey Eagles this weekend, falling 20 points back in the Mainland division.
With just nine regular season games and a maximum 18 points they can get, the Chiefs have been officially eliminated.
Saturday's 7-3 home-ice loss was the final nail in the coffin, dooming head coach Harvey Smyl to miss the postseason for the first time in his distinguished career.
The Chiefs got on the board first in this one on a goal by Jaret Babych. Andrew Silard got the assist, saucering a pass onto Babych's stick as he cruised down the right wing. From 15 feet out he snapped a short side shot over the mitt of Surrey goalie Devon Fordyce.
The Eagles got that back just 72 seconds later on a goal by Austin Ferguson. This was a strange one. Parked three feet off the right post, Surrey sniper Jonah Renouf put a shot on net. Chiefs netminder Josh Halpenny made an awkward attempt to catch it, and based on his reaction maybe he thought he did. While the goalie stayed glued to his goal-post the puck squirted through to the other side where Ferguson had all day to tuck it into the unguarded cage.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 14-12.
Surrey looked to have taken the lead early in period two on a goal by Braedan Russell, but after a penalty box conference, referee Mike Christians waved it off. Russell had gone hard to the net and appeared to pull Halpenny's legs out from under him before poking a loose puck across the line.
After signaling no goal, Christians brought the teams to center ice for a faceoff. Off the draw, Tanner Cochrane sent Mathieu Tibbet in alone on a breakaway. The 20 year old finished with a five hole backhand for his 20th of the year.
A few minutes later the wheels started to fall off.
Russell got the Eagles even at 6:17. Again, the Ontario native went hard to the net, fighting off a Carter Cochrane check before pushing the puck past Halpenny.
Surrey pulled ahead at 13:24 on a goal by Jonah Renouf. Anthony Conti started the play with a drive to the net. Halpenny thwarted him with a poke-check, but Russell followed up with a weak backhand shot. With Halpenny laying on his back in the goal-crease, Renouf pounced on the rebound, slipping the puck inside the left post for his 16th of the year.
His brother, Nathan, got on the board at 16:12, finishing off a two-on-one feed from guess-who, Russell.
And with 19 seconds left in the period and Surrey on a power play, Ferguson tipped a Brian Drapluk point shot past Halpenny to give the Eagles a 5-2 lead.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Surrey 27-23.
Tanner Cochrane sniped his sixth of the year 7:17 into the final frame, getting Chilliwack back within two. At the tail-end of a busy shift Zach Diamantoni pounced on a neutral zone turnover, wheeled and put a breakaway pass on Cochrane's stick. He had just enough gas left in the tank to get to the hash-marks before beating Fordyce with a five-hole wrist shot.
Surrey's final goal came on another two-on-one rush at 11:23. With Kiefer McNaughton caught up ice and Carter Cochrane the lone man back, Danton Heinen set up Conti, who slipped the puck past Halpenny for his 14th of the year.
Ben Butcher scored Chilliwack's final goal at 16:23, and Heinen scored an empty netter with 24 ticks left to wrap up the scoring.
Final shots on goal favoured Chilliwack 42-40.
The three stars were Ferguson (first), Tanner Cochrane (second) and Russell (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Tibbet.
Announced attendance was 1,545.