The Chilliwack Chiefs put up a good fighting in a losing cause Saturday night, falling 6-3 on home ice to the Coquitlam Express.
With neither team all that interested in playing defence, this one was an end-to-end scoring-chance fest. Unfortunately, the Chiefs aren’t well suited to track meets and the Express are. The net result, a couple lat goals making the final score look worse than it should have been, Chilliwack’s fifth straight loss, and probably the fail nail in their playoff coffin.
The Express potted two in the opening frame. Bo Pieper struck first, scoring at 6:26. Defenceman Zach Hodder got the primary assist, one-timing a slap-shot from the right point. Chilliwack goalie Josh Halpenny made the stop, but couldn’t corral the rebound. Pieper tracked it down and swept a backhand shot past the keeper for his 18th of the year.
Express blueliner Cameron Marks doubled the lead at 17:23, threading a point-shot wrister through traffic and past Halpenny.
The Chiefs got one back early in period two.
With Matt Butcher causing all sorts of havoc below the Coquitlam end-line, the puck was pushed toward the goal crease. Somehow, it dribbled through Express netminder Pierce Dushenko and all the way across to the far post, where Kyle Westeringh had only to poke it in for his sixth of the year.
But Coquitlam quickly came back with a power play goal by Jace Hennig. The 18-year-old forward buried his 11th of the year on an Express power play, burying the rebound from a Canon Pieper shot.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Chilliwack 27-16, putting them on track to out-shoot an opponent for the first time in 17 games.
But the scoreboard favoured the visitors 3-1.
Ben Butcher got the Chiefs back within one 5:37 into period three. The Bellingham native sniped his 11th of the year on a rocket shot from the left-wing wall that caught the far side of the net where post and crossbar meet.
A few minutes later, Bo Pieper looked to apply the dagger with a top-shelf shot from the slot. That turned out to be a crucial tally.
With 3:26 remaining, Tanner Cochrane threw a centering pass on goal from the left-wing boards. Parked in the blue paint, Mathieu Tibbet nudged it across the line for his team-leading 18th of the year. The Chiefs had a golden opportunity to equalize when Coquitlam’s Adam Rockwood took two undisciplined minutes for slashing with 2:17 remaining.
But 18 seconds into the power play, Canon Pieper got a step on Chilliwack’s Carter Cochrane on a solo-foray down the left wing, cutting hard to the net to beat Halpenny. His shorthanded strike sucked the wind out of the Chiefs, and his empty netter with 51.5 seconds left sealed the deal.
The three stars were Bo Pieper (first), Canon Pieper (second) and Ben Butcher (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Blake Gober.
Announced attendance was 2,220.