Chilliwack goalie shines as Chiefs push Rivermen to brink

Mark Sinclair was at his best when his team wasn't, backstopping the Chiefs to a 3-2 win and a 3-1 lead in their first round BCHL series.

An outstanding game from Mark Sinclair lifted the Chillwack Chiefs to a 3-2 win in Langley Tuesday night.

The Chilliwack goaltender stopped 32 of 34 pucks in the fourth game of a best-of-seven BCHL playoff series.

His effort helped the Chiefs take a 3-1 stranglehold in the series, with a chance to send the Rivermen packing Friday night.

Speedy Anthony Vincent is the winner of the lineup lottery lately, and the new linemate of Jordan Kawaguchi and Kohen Olischefski opened the scoring just 23 seconds into period one. Off a faceoff in the Langley zone, Gooch fed Vincent whose weak shot was badly misplayed by Rivermen keeper Bo Didur.

A rare Linden Hora goal doubled the Chilliwack lead late in the first period.

Aaron O’Neill started the cycle in Langley territory, getting the puck to Jake Smith who found Hora in the high slot. The veteran winger picked a corner and lasered the puck past Didur at 16:27.

Chilliwack penalties helped Langley cut into the lead early in period two.

Back to back minors to Jake Smith and Will Calverley gave the Rivermen an extended power play, and Ryan Barrow cashed in with his first of the series, but Kale Kane restored Chilliwack’s two goal lead with 1:18 on the clock.

Jake Smith started the play behind the Langley net, getting the puck to Will Calverley beside the cage. The rookie had it poked away as he went for the shot, but the disc found Kane in the slot. Left uncovered by the Langley D, the Quebec native blasted it past Didur.

Chilliwack had a chance to bury the Rivermen when Didur was forced from the game early in the final frame.

The goaltender was hit in the head by his own player and had to go into concussion protocol. He was replaced in net by Braedon Fleming and minutes later Langley’s Cam Ginnetti was handed a double-minor for high sticking.

The Chiefs didn’t cash in, but it turns out they had all the breathing room they needed.

An Angus Crookshank goal with 52.9 seconds left created another anxious finish, and Fleming was on the bench for an extra attacker as the final seconds ticked off the clock. But the Rivermen couldn’t get a puck past the shot-blocking Chiefs and when Cole Poliziani finally cleared the zone Langley ran out of time.

The Rivermen need three straight wins to come back in the series.

The three stars were Smith (first), Sinclair (second) and Barrow (third).

Friday’s game five is a 7 p.m. start at Prospera Centre.