It was somber night at the Chilliwack Coliseum Friday, two days after the passing of longtime Chilliwack Chiefs scout, radio colour man and front office staffer Jacob Bestebroer following a long battle with cancer.
But the home team delivered an effort JB would have liked, downing the Prince George Spruce Kings 6-2 in the junior A club’s home opener.
Following an emotional tribute to Bestebroer, including a moment of silence before the game, the Chiefs got down to business in a rematch of last year’s second round playoff series, and opened the scoring just 89 seconds in. Chilliwack’s Peter Reynolds sped down the right wing and delivered a perfect backhand pass into the goal mouth, where Arlo Merritt put it past PG keeper Jett Alexander for his second of the season.
The visitors tied it up late in the opening frame on a Brett Pfoh strike.
It was an oops by Chilliwack captain Nathan Kelly that set him up. The normally uber-dependable blueliner made a rare error, trying a cross ice pass at his own blueline. Pfoh intercepted the attempt and had a clear route to the Chiefs net. The Port Moody product finished with a low blocker side shot at 18:22.
The home side re-took the lead early in period two on a goal by Ethan Bowen. The Chilliwack product started the play with a pass into the goal mouth for rookie Tyler Cristall. The puck ended up lying loose in the slot. Bowen grabbed it at the left hash mark, wheeled and beat Alexander with a low shot inside the left goal post at 2:12.
The Spruce Kings answered back at 6:54 with a power play goal by Preston Brodziak.
Thomas Richter put a pass into the goal mouth for Brodziak, who was stopped by Chilliwack goalie Mathieu Caron on his first attempt. But the Saskatchewan product was able to tap the rebound through the legs of the goalie to briefly tie the game at 2-2.
Three minutes and one second later the Chiefs re-claimed the lead on another Bowen goal. This time No. 18 swooped into the slot, made a hard turn toward the right goal post and used his reach to sweep a backhand shot past Alexander.
Chilliwack added another before the middle frame was done. Working on a power play, defenceman Cooper Moore made a nice defensive play in his own end, riding a Prince George attacker off the puck. The Detroit Red Wings prospect embarked on an end-to-end rush that ended in the right faceoff circle with a backhand pass into the slot. Reynolds was waiting to nab the puck and lift a backhand shot over Alexander’s glove at 17:08.
Bowen completed his hat-trick 7:11 into the final frame on a Chilliwack power play.
Working along the right wing wall, Joey Larson fed the puck to Bowen in the slot. With a Chiefs teammate causing chaos in the PG goal crease, the 17 year old ripped a shot past Alexander.
Merritt made it 6-2, getting his stick on a Jack Agnew wrister from the right point, deflecting it through the legs of the beleaguered PG goalie at 9:56.
Playing his first game since injuring his knee against PG last November, Caron was razor sharp in the Chilliwack net, stopping 27 pucks to earn the W.
The three stars were Bowen (first), Reynolds (second) and Cooper Moore (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of hte Game was Jacob Slipec.
The Chiefs are on the road in Coquitlam tomorrow night and play back to back home games Friday and Saturday night against Wenatchee and Alberni Valley.