Chiefs and Warriors skate to 7-7 draw

In a wild BCHL game at Prospera Centre, the Chilliwack Chiefs and West Kelowna Warriors ended in a rare BCHL tie.

Tanner Cochrane had three goals Sunday night, helping his Chiefs to a rare BCHL tie. Cochrane’s crew erased a three-goal deficit, then suffered a late collapse in a 7-7 draw with the West Kelowna Warriors at Prospera Centre.

In a roller-coaster game littered with peaks and valleys, the home team snapped a seven-game losing streak. They’re still looking for their first win since Dec. 29, but the single point against the Warriors kept their mathematical playoff hopes alive.

Though their odds of postseason hockey rest somewhere between slim and forget-about-it, the Chiefs (10-31-2-4) are still alive. They trail Surrey by 14 points with 11 regular season games to go.

Chilliwack netminder Spencer Tremblay had a first period to forget in this one, with the misery starting just 62 seconds in. Westside winger David Pope beat Tremblay on a long distance top-shelf shot. The netminder might not have seen it through a screen, and he had more traffic in the crease for the second Westside goal.

This one came at 11:49 with Carl Hesler scoring his 17th of the year from the top of the right faceoff circle.

Tremblay had no excuse on the third Westside goal, scored by Reid Simmonds. The Calgary native turned and fired from the left-wing wall, catching Tremblay drifting away from the goal-post. Simmonds beat him short-side for his 12th.

The Chiefs got a pair of goals in period one.

Abbotsford native Jordan Kawaguchi scored at 6:06, with a big helping hand from Jake Hand. Working off the right-wing wall, Hand dangled through a Westside defender before feathering a cross-crease pass to Kawaguchi. The rookie buried it for his third of the year.

On a Chilliwack two-man advantage later in the period, Tanner Cochrane collected a cross-crease feed from Zach Diamantoni and beat Westside keeper Cody Porter with a sharp-angle shot.

Territorially, the Chiefs were lucky to escape the opening frame down by just one, with the visitors out-shooting the home team 18-8.

Tremblay was chased from the game early in period two.

Matt Anholt took a pass from Simmonds and beat him with a hot shot from the slot just 45 seconds in. Jason Cotton’s power play tally at 2:26 sent him to the bench with a final stat line of five goals surrendered on 21 shots.

Josh Halpenny took over in net, and his Chiefs rallied to make a game of it.

The seas parted for Blake Gober at 9:31 when the rookie found himself with a clear path to the net after taking a pass from Kurt Black. Gober deked Porter to the ice and chipped a backhander over the fallen goalie for his eight of the year.

Cochrane got the Chiefs within one at 14:13. Porter thwarted Kyle Westeringh on a breakaway, but left the puck lying in the crease. Cochrane blasted into the blue paint, poking the puck across the line for his second of the game and fourth of the year.

Shots on goal in period two favoured the Chiefs 10-8.

The home side clawed all the way back at 3:22 of period three. In the waning seconds of a power play Jaret Babych floated down the right wing and put a pass into the slot for Andrew Silard. Silard’s shot was stopped, but Westeringh was in the goal-mouth to bat the rebound past Porter and tie the game 5-5.

The Chiefs surged ahead at 6:21 on Cochrane’s hat-trick goal.

Diamantoni got the assist, pouncing on a turnover in the Westside zone. Breaking in on goal, the rookie threw three feints at Porter before sliding the puck across the goal-mouth to Cochrane, who put the puck into the gaping cage.

Hand appeared to provide the exclamation point with 2:27 remaining, taking a two-on-one feed from Silard and beating Porter with a shot over the glove. His 11th of the year seemed to secure Chilliwack’s sixth home win of the year.

But the Warriors had other ideas. Goals by David Pope and Adam Plant, both scored in the last minute of regulation time, sent this one to overtime.

Plant’s came with just eight seconds remaining.

Halpenny turned in a game saving stop midway through four-on-four OT. Lying on his stomach, the goalie reached up and got his glove on a Hesler shot, and that bit of thievery got his team to three-on-three hockey.

In BCHL, any penalty taken during the three-on-three phase is an automatic penalty shot. With 2:52 remaining, a high sticking penalty sent Pope to center ice with a chance to end it. Coming in from the left wing, Pope cut across the goal-mouth and tried to slip a backhand shot past Halpenny, but the stopper stretched post to post to keep it out.

Chilliwack’s best chance came a minute later as Mattieu Tibbet went coast-to-coast through every West Kelowna defender. But Pope shut the door and the game ended.

Announced attendance was 1,679.

The three stars were Cochrane (first), Pope (second) and Hand (third).

The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Silard.

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