Courtesy of Eric Welsh – Chilliwack Progress
The Chilliwack Chiefs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Coquitlam Express 3-1 Thursday night at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
The Chiefs scored all three goals in the third period as they won their fourth straight game, improving to 6-4-0-0 on the season.
They moved to within two points of the Express (7-2-0-0) for first place in the Mainland division, but it wasn’t an easy W.
The Express were a step or two faster, first to most loose pucks and lightning quick in transition. Greg Lapointe had an amazing chance to open the scoring minutes in when a coverage breakdown left him all alone in front of Chiefs goalie Mathieu Caron.
Lapointe wheeled with the puck, deked the netminder to the ice but lifted the puck over the crossbar.
Moments later Caron produced the first of several eye-popping saves, going right to left in a flash to take a certain goal away from Bradley Ong on a two-on-one rush. A couple shifts later he stopped Tyler Schleppe on a point-blank shot from 12 feet out.
But the Abbotsfordian wasn’t flawless.
On a Coquitlam power play midway through the period the Express stormed in on an odd-man rush. From the right wing boards, Steven Bellini saucered a pass into the slot for Massimo Rizzo. The Carolina Hurricanes draft pick quickly dished a backhand pass to Connor Gregga on the left wing and he rifled the puck past Caron’s outstretched blocker for a 1-0 Coquitlam lead.
The Chiefs were much better in the middle frame, holding a 13-6 edge on the shot clock, but they didn’t get any blue chip chances around the Express net, and as the third period started they still trailed by one.
Peter Reynolds changed that with a great shift early in period three.
Taking a stretch pass, the Chilliwackian had a breakaway. With Express defender Noah De La Durantaye back- checking, No. 7 couldn’t get a great shot away and Coquitlam keeper Clay Stevenson made the save. But moments later Reynolds was back in the offensive zone flanked by Brett Willits. Willits dished to Reynolds who returned the favour with a backhand pass across the goal mouth.
Willits punched the puck through Stevenson at 4:25 for his third of the year and a 1-1 tie.
Joey Larson gave the Chiefs the lead at 10:42, scoring his fifth of the season on a Chilliwack power play. Sixteen seconds after he lit the lamp, Kyle Penney fired a shot from the left faceoff dot that squibbed through Stevenson, giving the home side a 3-1 lead with 9:02 to play.
Ethan Bowen added his sixth of the season into an empty net with 4.9 seconds remaining to wrap up the scoring.
Final shots favoured Chilliwack 33-28.
The three stars were Reynolds (first), Caron (second) and Stevenson (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Tyler Cristall.
The Chiefs are back on home ice Saturday night at 7 p.m., hosting the Surrey Eagles at the Chilliwack Coliseum.