CHILLIWACK, BC-The Chilliwack Chiefs’ big guns wasted little time making an impact on the BCHL Fred Page Cup Final.
BCHL playoff points leader Jordan Kawaguchi had a goal and two helpers, and he and his line combined for five points, as the Chiefs topped the Penticton Vees 4-2 Friday at Prospera Centre in Game One.
Kawaguchi’s line-mates Kohen Olischefski and Anthony Vincent also scored in the Chiefs’ win, and Mark Sinclair stopped 36 of 38 shots and was named the game’s first star.
Griffin Mendel and Nicholas Jones replied for Penticton who dropped to 2-5 in seven road games in the playoffs. Mat Robson was very good, despite the loss, kicking out 35 of 39 shots.
It was a fast start for Penticton, as Mendel got the Vees on the scoresheet first, lighting the lamp just 90-seconds into the first period. Owen Sillinger fed the puck across to Mendel, who walked in and went upstairs on Sinclair for his second playoff goal at 1:30.
However, Chilliwack quickly responded, as Olischefski went to the net and found a rebound at the top of the crease. Robson stopped the first shot, but after getting tangled with a Chief in the crease, it was Olischefski flying in to pot the rebound at 3:53.
The Chiefs’ top-line put them ahead for the first time midway through the first. After the Vees had a tired line stuck out on the ice after an icing call, it was the Chiefs taking advantage. Chilliwack won the ensuing face-off and it was Olischefski finding Vincent out front, and he slid it underneath Robson at 9:30.
Penticton had one of their best stretches of the game during the second period but they were unable to cash in. Their best possibly came off a miscue by the Chiefs’ goaltender. Sinclair bobbled the puck at the side of the net and gave it away to Ty Amonte, but he hooked his wraparound attempt into the goalie’s pad.
Taylor Sanheim also had a golden opportunity right out front after a scramble for the puck, but he fired, off-balance, and missed high. Those two misses ended up proving costly.
Chilliwack got a late power-play in the second and they made quick work of it. Less than half a minute into the man-advantage, Jake Smith tapped-in the dribbling puck after Kawaguchi’s original shot rolled off the goalie’s blocker. Smith, making it 3-1 with just over two-minutes left in the frame.
Gabe Bast was thrusted into the spotlight after forcing a turnover and going back the other way on a clear-cut breakaway but was betrayed by a rolling puck and he couldn’t stuff it home.
The Vees chipped away at the two-goal hole in the third, and their hard-work paid off. Right off a face-off in the Chiefs end, it was Nicholas Jones scoring on a one-timer after Chris Klack set him up from the bottom of the circle at 12:37.
Penticton pressed for an equalizer and came close on a couple of occasions but Kawaguchi sealed it late. Kawaguchi pressed the Vees defender on the fore-check, forcing a turnover, which he quickly put past Robson at 17:58.
Final Score: 4-2 Chiefs
Shots: 39-38 Chilliwack
Power-Plays: Vees 0-1 Chiefs 1-1
Three Stars: 1) Mark Sinclair 2) Jake Smith 3) Griffin Mendel
Notes: The Vees last road win came back in Game Three against the Vernon Vipers on April 3rd. The Vees dressed two affiliates Cassidy Bowes and Massimo Rizzo Friday. Game One marked the first loss for Penticton when scoring first in the playoffs, as they’re now 6-1.
The Vees look for the series split in Game Two Saturday, April 15th, and fans can listen to EZ Rock AM 800 locally, or they can watch the pay-per-view webcast on www.hockeyTV.com