The Chilliwack Chiefs are off to the second round of the BCHL playoffs.
The exhausted home team beat the equally-exhausted Prince George Spruce Kings 5-2 in game five of their best-of-five first round series Wednesday night.
Both teams were playing their fifth game in six nights.
And the reward for Chilliwack? One day’s rest before they tackle the Surrey Eagles Friday night in Surrey.
A series filled with early goals got another one in game five, with Prince George opening the scoring just 1:13 in.
David Stephens was the playmaker, leading a two-on-one rush that culminated in a pass across the goal mouth and Braiden Epp’s first of the playoffs.
The rest of the period belonged to the Chiefs, who continued their own-the-shot-clock trend, firing 17 pucks at the PG net.
One found its way past Spruce King keeper Kirk Thompson at 7:20.
Luke Esposito got the assist, lowering his left shoulder and driving hard to the net, before shoveling a shot on goal. Thompson left a big ol’ rebound right in front of the cage, and Josh Hansen punched it in to knot things at 1-1.
Prince George turned the territorial tables in period two. The visitors were the better team, and held a 13-11 advantage in shots on goal. But it was the Chiefs getting the only goal.
It came on a power play, with PG captain Trevor Esau serving two minutes for interference.
From the top of the left faceoff circle, Spencer Graboski threaded a diagonal cross-ice pass to Philip Zielonka.
From a tough angle, the Quebec native put the puck up and over Thompson for his seventh of the series.
Zielonka’s goal put Chilliwack’s foot on Prince George’s throat heading to the final frame.
The Chiefs some weight on that foot 1:07 into period three when Mathieu Tibbett put them up by two.
Graboski did the heavy lifting, beating a Spruce King defenceman on a solo rush with a nifty out-side-in move. Thompson stopped Graboski’s shot but left another juicy rebound right in front. Tibett finished blocker side for his third of the series and a 3-1 lead.
Austin Plevy made it 4-1 at 7:26, with another assist to Graboski.
Plevy took a pass from Graboski in the right corner, darted into the blue paint and roofed a sharp-angle shot over Thompson for his third of the series.
Chilliwack got sloppy a couple shifts later, leaving Sean Landrey uncovered in front to finish off a feed from Shayne Morrissey.
That’s as close as the Spruce Kings would get.
Thompson was pulled for the extra attacker with 79 seconds remaining and a faceoff in the Chilliwack zone.
Plevy’s empty netter with 3.8 seconds left wrapped up the scoring.
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Tibbett.
The three stars were Graboski (first), Plevy (second) and Ben Masella (third).
Announced attendance was 2,177.