Chiefs take two from Mainland division rival

The Chilliwack Chiefs took sole possession of first place in the division with a 3-2 home-ice win over Prince George.

Rory Bell of the Chilliwack Chiefs passes the puck to a teammate during a game against the Prince George Spruce Kings at Prospera Centre on Wednesday.

The Chilliwack Chiefs took down a road-weary opponent, taking two points from their biggest Mainland division threat.

The Chiefs edged Prince George 3-2 at Prospera Centre, improving to 7-1-0-1 and moving past the Spruce Kings for first place in the Mainland.

Only the Penticton Vees (8-1-0-0) have a better record than Chilliwack in the 16 team BCHL standings.

The Spruce Kings scored the only goal in a fast-paced first period.

Justin Rai pulled the trigger, netting his league-leading 10th of the year on a Prince George power play. From the mid-point, defenceman Raymond Grewal flipped the puck to Jake LeBrun at the top of the left faceoff circle.

LeBrun quickly sent the disc cross-ice to Rai, whose quick shot squeezed through the pads of Chilliwack goaltender Aidan Pelino for his league-best 10th of the year.

Prince George out-shot the Chiefs 10-8 through 20 minutes.

About halfway through period two the ice started tilting in the home team’s favour, and the Chiefs got the equalizer at 11:49. Luke McColgan notched his sixth goal in three games with an unassisted effort. The California kid blew down the right wing, stepping around a PG defenceman as he cut hard to the net.

McColgan swept the puck past Spruce King netminder Alex Brooks-Potts for his seventh of the year, briefly wresting the team goal-scoring lead from Craig Puffer. But Puffer wouldn’t let that stand. Moments later, with teammate Rory Bell causing a ruckus in the Prince George goal crease, the puck popped out of a crowd to Puffer.

The Connecticut kid wired a shot from the slot, beating Brooks-Potts for his seventh and a 2-1 Chilliwack lead.

The Chiefs added one more before the period was done, with Liam Ferguson taking a pass from Tanner Campbell, bulling his way to the net and slipping a backhand shot into the cage. Campbell’s assist was his first BCHL point.

An otherwise quiet third period got busy late after a power play goal by Grewal.

With 4:33 remaining and his team on a four-on-three power play, the big blueliner wired a point shot through a crowd and past Pelino for his first of the year.

Brooks-Potts came out with exactly one minute to play as his team sought the equalizer, and Chilliwack’s Jake Larson almost iced the game with a rink-length shot that missed the empty cage by three inches.

His Chiefs hung on for 15.8 more seconds, escaping with their seventh win of the year.

The three stars were Puffer (first), Jordan Kawaguchi (Chilliwack, second) and Brooks-Potts (third).

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Bell.

Announced attendance was 1,966.

The Chiefs are in Coquitlam Friday night and host the Express Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Prospera Centre.

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