The Chilliwack Bruins came off the ropes with an unlikely victory Wednesday night, shocking the Spokane Chiefs 4-3 in overtime in game three of their first round Western Hockey League playoff series. It wasn’t the win itself that was so incredible, it was the manner in which it was achieved.
Goaltender Lucas Gore made 54 saves to keep his Bruins alive, and his teammates responded by erasing a three goal third-period deficit. Kevin Sunder scored the winner in OT, ensuring that this series will go at least five games.
Spokane still leads 2-1 heading into Thursday’s game four.
The Chiefs out-shot the Bruins 110-50 through the first two games, and continued that trend in the first period of this one. Spokane fired 22 pucks at Gore, getting goals from Anthony Bardaro and Tyler Johnson.
Bardaro netted his first of the series at 8:33. Less than three minutes later, Johnson got a pass from linemate Levko Koper and, with a lighting quick release, snapped a shot under the cross-bar for his second of the series.
The Chiefs got the only goal in the middle frame, with defenceman Cole Hamblin pulling the trigger on his first of the playoffs. Johnson was indirectly involved in the play, lying on the ice after a Tyler Stahl elbow knocked him off his skates.
With a delayed penalty coming up, Hamblin pinched down from the point to finish off a centering feed from Koper.
Stahl earned a five minute elbowing major and game misconduct for his hit on Johnson, but Gore was Chilliwack’s best penalty killer, helping his team snuff out the major without incident. Johnson did not return to the game.
The Bruins comeback started early in the final frame, with Ryan Howse doing the damage. The 51-goal scorer followed his own shot to the net, punching in a huge rebound for his first of the playoffs. The Howse tally snapped a 114 minute goal-less drought for Chilliwack.
Howse left the ice slowly after the goal and missed the next shift. But he was back on the ice when the Bruins went to a four-minute power play, courtesy a Brady Brassart check from behind on Blair Wentworth.
Chilliwack’s PP (0-for-11 in games one and two) finally came through with a clutch goal, cutting into the Spokane lead on a goal by Robin Soudek. Kevin Sundher fed rookie Brandon Magee, who did a great job taking the puck to the net. Soudek followed the play and popped the rebound past Reid for his first of the playoffs, cutting the deficit to 3-2 with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Bruins completed the unlikely comeback two minutes later. Dylen McKinlay’s pass found Sundher in full flight, streaking up the left wing. The 18-year-old went to the backhand, beating Reid to silence the Spokane crowd.
Gore made one final game-saving stop on Mitch Holmberg to get his team to sudden-death overtime, where Sundher came through with his game winner. Just 3:20 into extra time the Surrey speedster used his speed to get a partial breakaway, finishing the play with a top shelf shot.
Game four is tomorrow night at Spokane’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum.