The Chilliwack Chiefs stood toe to toe with BCHL royalty Friday night, battling the Penticton Vees at Prospera Centre.
Chilliwack earned a valuable point getting to overtime, but couldn’t finish the upset, falling 3-2 on Gabe Bast’s winner.
Goaltender David Jacobson stopped 37 of 40 shots as Chilliwack moved three points clear of Langley for first place in the Mainland division standings.The Rivermen fell 4-1 in Powell River Friday night.
The mighty Vees looked like the league leaders in a dominant first period spent almost entirely in Chilliwack’s end of the ice. Penticton put two pucks in the net, with Cody DePourq opening the scoring at 7:19.
During a goal-mouth scramble, Jacobson tried to sweep the puck to safety. Instead, he put it on DePourq’s stick, and the Penticton native tucked it in for his 10th of the year.
The visitors doubled their lead at 13:09 on a goal by Connor Chartier. The Calgary kid parked in the goal mouth and got his stick on a sharp-angle shot by Matthew Serratore, putting it past Jacobson for his 10th.
Up against the ropes with Penticton poised for the knock-out blow, the Chiefs were gifted a lengthy five on three power play. Gabe Bast high sticked Chilliwack’s Jake Hand in the neutral zone and Jack Ramsay was flagged for tripping, giving the Chiefs a two man advantage for 1:41.
With 27 seconds left in the first period Dennis Cholowski made a hustle play to keep a clearing attempt in at the right point. Jordan Kawaguchi wheeled out of the right corner and went top shelf on Vees keeper Hunter Miska, picking a corner for his 20th.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Penticton 13-9.
The Chiefs were much, much better in a second period that had no goals, but a handful of near misses.
Vees forward Patrick Newell forced a turnover from Chilliwack’s Jake Hand beside the Chiefs net, swooped into the slot and had a point-blank shot from the left hash mark. Jacobson made the stop but was caught out of position as Newell nabbed the rebound and threw it toward the unguarded cage. As it snailed its way toward the goal-line, Jacobson lunged back, sweeping it out of trouble and keeping his team within one.
In the final 10 seconds Kawaguchi flew into the Penticton zone and puled off a spectacular spinorama to evade a Vees defender. He pulled the puck around the right leg of Miska but couldn’t tuck it in, looking skyward as the buzzer sounded and the puck rolled off his stick, sliding harmlessly into the right goal post.
The home team’s effort was unquestioned in the final frame, and it paid off with the game tying goal at 10:43.
Off a neutral zone turnover, Hand flew into the Vees zone and fired a low shot toward the Penticton net. Jake Larson got his stick on it, changing its direction enough to fool Miska. Larson almost netted the winner on his next shift, cutting wide around a Penticton defender and directing a weak shot on net. But the puck slid an inch or two wide of the far goal-post and this game ended up in overtime.
Five minutes of four on four solved nothing, leading to three on three and Penticton’s game winner.
Seconds after Larson and Hand failed to score on a glorious chance, Vees D-man Gabe Bast floated down the left wing and beat Jacobson with an unscreened five hole wrist shot from just above the left faceoff dot.
The three stars were Jacobson (first), Miska (second) and Kawaguchi (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Luke McColgan.
The Chiefs host the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Announced attendance was 2,819.