The Chilliwack Bruins face hockey’s equivalent of climbing Mt. Everett as they continue their first round playoff series versus the Spokane Chiefs.
Following a 5-0 loss in game two Saturday night, the Bruins must travel to Spokane and take two of three to stay alive. Otherwise, this year’s playoff run will be a short one for the good guys who fought tooth and nail to get there.
The Bruins spent most of game one looking like they didn’t belong on the same ice surface as the Chiefs, and the shots on goal reflected the disparity in play.
The first period of game two was much better for the home team, who showed they could skate with the big boys.
Chilliwack got the first six shots on goal, and with a little more puck luck they might have had an early lead. Dylan McKinlay and Jamie Crooks both had nice chances in tight, only to be thwarted by Chiefs netminder James Reid and bouncing pucks. Roman Horak came within a whisker of a goal on a power play, ringing a shot off the cross-bar.
Gore didn’t face a shot until the game was six-and-a-half minutes old, but he came through with some big stops. Spokane had a couple near-misses on a late power play, including a shot that hit Gore square in the face-mask, but his efforts helped the Bruins escaped to the middle frame tied at zeroes.
When the Chiefs upped the energy in period two, Chilliwack didn’t have an answer.
Spokane opened the scoring 2:32 into the middle frame after a shift of pure domination. Defencemen Mitch Topping and Zach Habscheid got into chase mode and left Kenton Miller with a clear lane to the net.
The 19-year-old Saskatchewan native beat Gore from 15 feet out with a stick-side wrister.
The Chiefs doubled the lead four minutes later on a power play goal by Dominik Uher. With just nine seconds elapsed in a Tyler Stahl interference minor, the Czech import collected the rebound from a Brendan Kichton point shot and shoveled a backhander through Gore’s legs for his first of the series.
The clinic continued late in the period. Steve Kuhn earned the assist on Spokane’s third goal, driving wide around Bruins blueliner Jeff Einhorn and dishing a perfect centering pass to Blake Gal. His tap-in put the Chiefs up by three.
Shots on goal reflected Spokane’s ownage of the middle frame, favouring the Chiefs 24-9.
Miraculous comebacks weren’t on the menu on this night as Spokane efficiently put this game to bed. The Chiefs got their fourth goal at 8:27, with Kuhn crashing the net to punch home a centering feed from Matt Marantz.
The most entertaining third period moment for the home crowd was watching a happy-face balloon do a slow-motion descent to ice-level deep in the Spokane zone. Like the balloon, the Bruins ended up going quietly.
Chiefs forward Darren Kramer added the game’s final goal on a late power play.
Final shots on goal favoured Spokane 47-26.
The three stars were Kuhn (first), Uher (second) and Reid (third).
Chilliwack not hits the road for the next two (hopefully three) games of this series, with the next one going Wednesday night in Spokane.