The Chilliwack Chiefs picked up where they left off in the first round of the BCHL playoffs, starting the second round with a win.
Chilliwack faced a feisty but tired Prince George Spruce Kings squad in game one Friday night at Prospera Centre, surviving a late rally to escape with a 3-2 decision.
The score was close but most of the game wasn’t, with the Chiefs holding a decisive edge in play.
Captain Eric Roberts got the scoring started at 10:08 of period one. Jake Hand won a faceoff back to No. 6 in white, who fired a seeing-eye wrist shot through a maze of players and past PG keeper Jesse Jenks.
The home team doubled their lead at 11:28, with Craig Puffer wheeling out of the right corner and feeding a pass to Tipper Higgins in the high slot. The Vermont native one-timed the puck past Jenks for his team-leading seventh of the postseason.
PG’s best chance to put a puck behind Chilliwack stopper David Jacobson came shorthanded.
Chiefs D-man Dennis Cholowski bobbled the puck at the point and Jake LeBrun was off to the races. Storming in from the right wing, the Prince George native tried to cut across the goal mouth and pull the puck to his backhand.
Jacobson thwarted him with a well-timed poke-check, hacking the puck away Billy Smith-style.
Shots on goal in the first period favoured the visitors, 15-9.
Chilliwack got the only goal in the middle frame, a shorthanded marker by Hand.
Matthew Stief misplayed the puck at the right point and was forced to retreat from the Chilliwack zone. Hand stole the puck away in the neutral zone and used his size and reach to shield the puck from Stief as he powered down the left wing.
Zeroing in on net, Hand lowered his shoulder, cut across the goal-mouth and out-waited Jenks before potting his fifth of the playoffs.
Shots on goal in the second period favoured the Chiefs 14-7.
PG broke up Jacobson’s shutout bid with 7:57 remaining in the third period, with Michael Buonicontri swooping behind the net and sneaking a wraparound inside the right post. Jenks was pulled for the extra attacker with 1:10 to go, and Brogan O’Brien scored off a goal-mouth scramble to wrap up the scoring.
Final shots on goal favoured the home team, 36-32.
The three stars were Hand (first), Higgins (second) and Jacobson (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Mason Boh.
Game two of this series is Saturday night with a 7 p.m. start at Prospera Centre.