No Kawaguchi, no problem for the Chilliwack Chiefs.
With their captain away with Team Canada West prepping for the World Junior A Championship, the Chiefs gutted out a 3-0 win over a feisty Surrey squad Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
The Eagles, record-wise one of the league’s worst teams, once again found a way to give Chilliwack all it could handle. But Mark Sinclair stopped all 24 shots he faced for his first BCHL shutout and a two-point night from Kohen Olischefski propelled the Chiefs to their 21st win (21-8-5-0) of the season in their second-to-last game before the Christmas break.
Olischefski got the scoring started just 2:42 in, firing a shot from the right wing wall that found its way through traffic and into the cage behind Surrey keeper Keelan Williams. Olly’s goal set off a downpour of stuffies and hats on Teddy Bear and Toque Toss night, with approximately 1500 items raining down from the stands.
The items were gathered up and will be donated to Chilliwack Community Services.
Chilliwack’s lead doubled in the final minute of period one.
Will Calverley carried the puck over the Surrey line and had it poked away as he cut into the high slot, but Jake Smith found the bouncing disc and snapped it past Williams from 15 feet out for his 15th of the year.
Shots on goal through 20 minutes favoured Chilliwack 10-3.
The second period was a lousy one for the home team. The Chiefs didn’t register their first shot until the 10:54 mark and recorded just one more in a period where they spent way too much time in their own end. But Sinclair made a handful of eye-popping stops to keep the Eagles at zero heading to the final frame.
Calverley gave Chilliwack breathing room just 35 seconds into period three. Steps inside the Surrey blueline, the rookie flipped the puck to Olischefski on the left wing. Olly gave it right back on a slick give-and-go and Calverley snapped the puck past Williams for his sixth of the season and a 3-0 lead.
Another Surrey Williams found himself eating Linden Hora knuckles at 6:30. Eagles D-man Cole Williams dropped the mitts with Hora and paid the price. Hora landed several rights, including one that popped Williams’ helmet off his head. Williams was hanging on for dear life when the linesman finally stepped in.
Surrey coach Blaine Neufeld pulled his goalie for the first time with four minutes remaining, but aside from one goal-mouth scramble the Eagles didn’t threaten.
Sinclair was mobbed by his teammates as the final whistle blew and was named the game’s third star.
The other stars were Smith (first) and Calverley (second)..
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Chilliwack D-man Powell Connor.
Announced attendance was 2,502.