Tristan Crozier scored the game winner in three-on-three overtime Friday night as his Nanaimo Clippers beat the Chilliwack Chiefs 3-2 at Prospera Centre.
Playing their first game at the 2017 Bauer BCHL Showcase, the Chiefs muddled their way through the first two periods before turning it on in the third.
They dominated the final frame and showed the hometown crowd glimpses of what they might be this season. But for the moment, they are a struggling 1-2-0-2 hockey team that faces the defending Penticton Vees in their next game.
Corey Andonovski got the Chiefs on the board first, scoring 8:08 into period one with a highlight reel goal.
Defenceman Powell Connor started the play near his own blueline with a bank pass off the boards. Andonovski took the puck in the neutral zone along the left wing wall and nimbly sidestepped Nanaimo’s Preston Brodziak. Speeding into the Clipper zone, Andonovski danced around defenceman Shawn Guison in the slot and snapped the puck past the goaltender with the longest name ever, Noah FeatherStonhaugh Gowe.
We’ll call him Gowe from now on.
Nanaimo got that one back on a lucky effort from Jamie Collins. From the left faceoff circle the 20 year old forward fired a dart. Chilliwack netminder Mathieu Caron made the stop but the rebound pinballed off crease-crashing players and bounced past the keeper at 17:46.
Nanaimo took the lead 9:43 into period two on a power play goal by Jake Harris. Tristan Crozier took a nice cross-ice feed in the neutral zone, flew down the right wing and delivered a perfect pass across the goal mouth. Harris one-timed it past Caron for his third of the season.
Nanaimo out-shot Chilliwack 22-18 through 40 minutes.
The Chiefs had a blue chip chance to equalize early in the final frame. With his team on a power play, Crozier tried a weak pass back to point man Jordan Wharrie. Chilliwack’s Harrison Blaisdell jumped on the pass, muscled his way past Wharrie and had a breakaway from center ice in. But with Wharrie nipping at his heels the entire way, Blaisdell settled for a shot into the crest on the goalie’s jersey.
The 16 year old didn’t miss on his next opportunity.
This time it was a faceoff win by Skyler Brind’Amour that led to a Ryan Miotto backhand shot on net. Blaisdell went straight to the blue paint to jam the puck past Gowe.
It was the first BCHL goal for the rookie from Abbotsford and it sent the game to overtime.
Five minutes of four on four OT solved nothing and the visitors finally ended it 56 seconds into three on three hockey. On a two on one rush, Maxwell Crozier flipped a centering pass on net from the left wing. Tristan Crozier tapped the puck out of the air from about a foot off the ice, directing it past Caron.
The three stars were Andonovski (first), Blaisdell (second) and Jake Harris (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Miotto.
Chilliwack is back in action tomorrow night with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop at Prospera Centre vs the Vees.