Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress
Playing their third game in two-and-a-half days the Chilliwack Chiefs gutted out a huge 4-3 shootout win over the Prince George Spruce Kings Sunday afternoon at Prospera Centre.
Matt Holmes ended an epic shootout dual that saw 15 saves and just the one score.
Chiefs goalie Daniel Chenard made the final save on Patrick Cozzi as his team improved to 29-11-1-0 and took over sole possession of first place in the Mainland division and BCHL standings.
Trade deadline acquisition Mitch Andres helped Chilliwack get the scoring start in this one.
Not often do you see a defenceman leading a two-on-one rush, but after chipping the puck past a Spruce King in the neutral zone Andres carried the puck down the left wing flanked by Harrison Blaisdell. Andres feathered a pass through PG defender Liam Watson-Brawn, across the low slot to Blaisdell who buried the puck behind goalie Logan Neaton at 7:11.
The Spruce Kings evened the score at 1-1, briefly, in the second period as Ben Brar was left uncovered beside the Chilliwack net and roofed a far side backhander over Chiefs goalie Daniel Chenard.
But less than 10 seconds later, Carter Wilkie carried the puck down the right wing and put a centering pass into the goal-mouth, where it hit the skate of a PG defender and caromed into the net.
The Chiefs appeared to add to their lead when Brett Willits waded into a goal-mouth scramble and scooped a backhand shot past Neaton, but the goal was waved off because Chilliwack’s Brett Rylance had crashed the crease in pursuit of a centering pass and made ‘incidental contact’ with the goalie.
On the very next shift, Chilliwack defender Nathan Kelly skated into the slot and rifled a wrister over Neaton’s glove.
PG cut into the deficit early in the finale frame as Chong Min Lee skated down the left wing and beat Chenard with a sharp-angle backhander at 1:16.
That was it for regulation time scoring, and when another five minutes of three on three overtime didn’t produce a winner the teams went to a shootout.
Chenard and Neaton were outstanding in the skills competition.
Before Holmes finally lazered a puck over his blocker, Neaton had thwarted Cole Donhauser, Kevin Wall, Brett Willits, Brett Rylance, Jacques Bouquot and Ethan Bowen.
At the other end, Chenard stoned Ben Poisson, Ben Brar, Corey Cunningham, Dustin Manz, Sean Donaldson, Nick Bochen and Nicholas Poisson.
On his final save, he dropped into the butterfly and snapped the leg pads shut to keep Patrick Cozzi’s five hole try out.
Chenard earned second star honours with Nathan Kelly getting the first star nod and Donhauser getting the Fortis B.C. Energy Player of the Game selection.
Chilliwack returns to action Thursday night, on the road in Merritt.