Jake LeBrun had the game winning goal late in the third period as the Prince George Spruce Kings edged the Chilliwack Chiefs 2-1 Saturday night at Prospera Centre.
Coming off a two-week break, the Chiefs played maybe their best game of the season. But familiar concerns remain.
Too many shots against (39) and too few goals for.
With five games in the books so far this season, the Chiefs have six goals. That’s not going to get it done.
Chilliwack opened the scoring in this one, with a power play strike in the final minute of period one giving them a 1-0 lead.
It was the team’s first power play goal of the season.
With PG’s Mitch Eden (interference) and Skyler Pacheco (holding) banished to the box and the Chiefs on a two man advantage, Austin Plevy worked out of the right corner, whipping a cross-crease pass to Zach Diamantoni.
The Florida native fanned on the shot, but the puck hit Spruce Kings netminder Alex Murray and flopped across the line, giving Diamantoni his first BCHL goal.
Shots on goal in the first period favoured Chilliwack 13-10.
The Prince George power play got the Sprucies even 5:29 into period two.
With Diamantoni in the box for holding, Pacheco pulled the trigger on his third of the season, sniping a top-shelf shot from the high slot.
PG stepped it up in the middle frame, and had several near-misses around the Chiefs net.
One guy who didn’t miss was Cooper Rush, who was deadly accurate with a bone-crunching check on Spruce Kings forward Braiden Epp.
Rush put a shoulder into Epp, dropping him like a brick just inside the Prince George blueline. The 17 year old was down and out for a minute before being helped off the ice. On the next shift, Rush had to drop the mitts with Sean Landrey.
It was little more than a wrestling match, with both players given five minute majors.
The shot clock tilted in favour of the visitors in period two, with PG out-shooting Chilliwack 19-8.
Jaret Babych will see the first minute of the final frame in his nightmares. On the tail end of a Chilliwack power play, Babych took a pass at the right faceoff dot and stared down the wide openest net you’ll ever see.
The kid with the heaviest wrister on the team teed it up and fired, only to see Murray do a Superman dive across the net and knock the puck down with his trapper.
Murray’s save of the game, and maybe the year when all is said and done, set the stage for LeBrun’s game winning goal.
With 8:29 remaining, the Prince George native jumped into a frantic goal-mouth scramble, chipping the puck past Chiefs keeper Lyndon Stanwood. It wasn’t called a goal, at first. But as the teams took a break for the mid-period timeout, referees Duncan Browe and Nick Swaine talked it over and pointed to center ice.
The overhead camera showed the officials were right, but Chilliwack head coach Harvey Smyl had let them know he wasn’t pleased.
The Chiefs ended the game on a power play, and Stanwood came out with 1:13 left to make a six-on-four advantage. But the Chiefs could barely get across the Spruce Kings blue line, failing to get a shot as the clock ticked to zeroes.
The three stars were Murray (first), Diamantoni (second) and LeBrun (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Chilliwack’s Brandon Volpe.
The Chiefs are back in action tomorrow night, with a 5 p.m. start at Prospera Centre versus the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.