A hockey team resembling the Chilliwack Chiefs fell 3-0 to the Battlefords North Stars Thursday afternoon at the Western Canada Cup.
Wrapping up the round-robin stage with his team already locked into Saturday’s WCC title game versus the Brooks Bandits Chilliwack head coach Jason Tatarnic dressed a lineup that reflected the meaninglessness of the game. Five affiliate players took the ice at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton while a handful of vets watched from the stands.
Jordan Kawaguchi was a healthy scratch along with Will Calverley and Carver Watson. Also missing were injured forwards Tommy Lee and Kale Kane and defenceman Davis Bunz. Starting goaltender Mark Sinclair got the day off, dressing as the backup to Mathieu Caron.
A surprise addition to the lineup was No. 21, Kohen Olischefski, checking in for the first time in this tournament. Olly was injured during game seven of the Fred Page Cup finals and of all the walking wounded he seemed the least likely to return, but Olischefski looked close to his usual self in the opening frame.
Meaningless as the game was for Chilliwack, it meant everything to the North Stars. Needing a regulation-time win to stay alive in the tournament, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League champs collected their first goal late in period one off the stick of Layne Young. The 19 year old parked in the slot and got his stick on a Cody Spagrun slap shot, redirecting the puck past Caron at 17:03.
Minus their big guns the Chiefs generated just 22 shots in the game, few of them legitimate threats for Battlefords goalie Joel Gryzbowski.
The North Stars put the game away late in period three on an unassisted goal by Keaton Holinaty, who threw a long range shot towards the net and got a lucky carom off a Chiefs defender. Tatarnic pulled Caron for an extra attacker in the final minute, and Battlefords’ Young wrapped up the scoring with an empty netter.
The North Stars earned their first win of the tournament and tonight’s Penticton vs Portage game is now very important.
The winner of that game will move on to the knockout round. If the game is decided in overtime the North Stars will be out based on head-to-head tie-breakers. If the game is decided in regulation time, the loser will be out and Battlefords moves on.