The final game of the 2013-14 BCHL season played to a familiar script Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
The largest crowd of the year watched their team score enough goals to win, but give up way to many to have a chance in a 10-5 loss to the Coquitlam Express.
Five Chiefs said their goodbyes to the hometown fans and the junior A circuit. Tanner Cochrane, Kiefer McNaughton, Andrew Silard, Mathieu Tibbet and Cody Bardock were on the ice for the opening faceoff, with Chiefs coach Harvey Smyl starting all of his graduating vets.
In an otherwise awful first period, their Chiefs got on the board first with a goal by Ben Butcher.
Coquitlam native Daniel DelBianco got the assist with a slap-pass from the left-wing wall that Butcher tipped past Express keeper Gordie Defiel. His 13th of the year had Chilliwack up 1-0 at 7:44, but that was short-lived.
Just two minutes and 14 seconds later, on a Coquitlam power play, Bo Pieper buried a Ryan Rosenthal pass to get the visitors even.
Shortly after Pieper’s snipe, Chiefs keeper Josh Halpenny had equipment issues and was forced to switch masks. Perhaps the new lid carried with it a horrible curse, or maybe Halpenny is really, really, really particular about his masks. Whatever the reason, the goalie struggled mightily for the rest of the period.
At 12:51, on another Coquitlam power play, Zach Hodder one-timed an Adam Rockwood pass, sliding the puck under Halpenny as he stretched across the goal-line. At 13:54 John Saunders bulled into the slot and put a backhand shot on net. Jackson Cressey buried the rebound for his sixth of the year. At 15:28, Bo Pieper blasted a shot form the top of the left faceoff circle that went off the lip of Halpenny’s glove and in.
And finally, at 17:08, Rosenthal put a sharp-angle shot over Halpenny’s shoulder to give the Express at 5-1 lead.
Halpenny faced 25 first period shots and gave way to backup Spencer Tremblay as the second period began.
The Chiefs got one back at 10:40, with Zach Diamantoni threading a cross-ice pass through two Coquitlam defenders to Blake Gober. The Texas native wired a shot over Defiel’s blocker for his 12th of the year.
They got another at 11:52. Coming off the left wing, Gober worked his way to the net. Defiel expected him to shoot. Instead, the rookie left a cute drop pass for Mathieu Tibbet, who punched it in for his team-leading 31st of the year.
Marc Biega answered back with his 17th of the year, putting Coquitlam up 6-3 at 12:52.
But Chilliwack native Kyle Westeringh scored in the final minute of the middle frame. The rookie parked in the goal-mouth as defenceman Eric Roberts threw the puck on net from the right point. Westeringh nabbed the puck, wheeled, pulled it to his forehand and snapped it past Defiel for his 10th of the year.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured the Express 42-24.
Tremblay looked to be favouring an injury in the closing minutes of period two, and Halpenny was back in net to start the third.
The first shot he faced was a Coquitlam goal, with Rosenthal one-timing a Corey Mackin pass from the high slot through the legs of Halpenny for his second of the night.
The Express scored their eight at 10:43. On a delayed penalty, Anthony Gardner put a shot on goal from the right-wing wall. Halpenny couldn’t control the rebound, and Daniell Lange popped it in for his eighth of the year.
Canon Pieper beat Halpenny at 12:30 and Saunders beat him with a long shot through the five hole at 13:47.
The Chiefs got the final goal, with Kurt Black clanging a wrist shot off the left goal post and Jordan Kawaguchi burying the rebound to finish his rookie season with nine goals.
The three stars were Rosenthal (first), Rockwood (second) and Gober (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Andrew Silard.
Announced attendance was 3,112.