The Chilliwack Chiefs have been knocked out of the BCHL playoffs.
The Prince George Spruce Kings beat the Chiefs 3-1 Sunday night in game seven of their first round playoff series, ending Chilliwack’s season.
The Chiefs will be back in action in May as the hosts of the 2018 Royal Bank Cup national championship tournament, but their Fred Page Cup dreams are over.
Chilliwack got the fast start they were looking for when PJ Marrocco scored just 51 seconds in.
Just like in game six, the Spruce Kings took an early penalty, as Ethan de Jong was sent off for tripping. On the power play, Marrocco took a cross-ice pass from Corey Andonovski and went top corner over PG netminder Evan DeBrouwer.
The game settled into a defensive turtle-derby from there. Chilliwack led 11-6 in shots on goal through 20 minutes and 18-11 through 40.
Chiefs captain Will Calverley came within an inch or two of doubling his team’s lead in the middle frame when he rang a shot off iron, but otherwise scoring chances were few and far between as the Spruce Kings fell back on their stifling 1-3-1 formation, even more stifling on the smaller-than-regulation ice sheet at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
The Prince George crowd finally got a goal to cheer about 11:02 into the final frame.
Attoning for his penalty that led to the Chilliwack goal, de Jong came through with a massive shorthanded strike, picking off a saucer pass on a penalty kill, racing in on a breakaway and slipping the puck past Chiefs goalie Daniel Chenard.
Two minutes and 22 seconds later the Spruce Kings had the lead on a goal by Jay Keranen, who hammered a point shot post-and-in behind Chenard, who never saw the shot through a screen. Keranen didn’t have a bigger goal all season, because he didn’t score a goal all season. It was his first of 2017-18.
Chenard came to the net for the extra attacker with well over a minute to play, and watched as Ben Brar ice the game and the series with an empty net strike.