The Coquitlam Express proved to be a feistier opponent than anyone expected, but the Chilliwack Chiefs are moving past them in the BCHL playoffs.
Coquitlam forced their best-of-seven first-round playoff series versus the favoured Chiefs to a do-or-die match Sunday at the Chilliwack Coliseum. But Chilliwack didn’t mess around in the deciding game, whomping the Express 6-0.
“You don’t go into a series expecting to play seven games, but there’s always that possibility,” said Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney. “Studying Coquitlam leading into the playoffs, I knew it could be a possibility because of how well they were playing. They defended and played us extremely hard, which I give them a ton of credit for.”
As they did throughout the series, the Chiefs badly out-shot their foes. This time, the 47-20 advantage showed up on the scoreboard. Goaltender Grant Riley stopped every puck fired his way and the home team got all the offence they’d need on a Lachlan Getz goal at 14:38 of period one.
The 19-year-old blueliner, who had three goals in 54 regular season games, added his second of the game six minutes into period two and Chilliwack poured it on from there.
Dawson Good scored at 7:43 and Cameron Johnson and Ethan Bowen lit the lamp 14 seconds apart at 11:13 and 11:27 to give their team a 5-0 cushion through 40 minutes.
Jack Seymour wrapped up the scoring with a third-period snipe.
“They (Coquitlam) played their hearts out, and I just think our depth eventually took over and we wore them down,” Maloney noted. “They made us a better team from this series and now we understand exactly what we are and how we need to play leading into Nanaimo.”
The Nanaimo Clippers are Chilliwack’s next playoff opponent in what should be a whale of a series.
The teams shared near-identical records during the regular season, Chilliwack at 33-17-2-2 and Nanaimo at 33-17-3-1.
They had the same point total of 70, but the Chiefs were seeded second in the Coastal conference based on tie-breakers and will have home-ice advantage. Chilliwack took three of four in the head-to-head regular season series, outscoring Nanaimo by a combined count of 20-12.
“It will be another hard-fought series,” Maloney suggested. “Both teams are very similar. They have some players that can hurt you offensively and a goalie that has been good for them all season long. But I believe if we play as hard as we did against Coquitlam, we will have success.”