The Chilliwack Chiefs are off to an ugly start in round two of the BCHL playoffs.
The Chiefs were stomped 7-0 by the Prince George Spruce Kings Friday night at Prospera Centre in a game that was just as lopsided as the score indicates.
The home team was out-shot 35-19 and looked like the young and inexperienced crew they are, facing a veteran PG team that did pretty much whatever they wished.
If every game is a learning experience for Chilliwack, let’s hope they learned a lot from this one because game two is less than 24 hours away.
The first period was bad for the home team but could have been far worse if not for goalie Daniel Chenard, who made three eye-popping stops.
First it was Chong Min Lee pouncing on an errant pass in the Chilliwack zone and skating unchecked into the goal-mouth, where he was robbed by Chenard’s glove.
Then it was Corey Cunningham, left alone in the right faceoff circle 15 feet out. Chenard thwarted him and seconds later stopped Patrick Cozzi from the same spot as he slipped away from his check for a wide open shot.
But the netminder couldn’t hold the visitors off forever, and PG got to him for two goals late in the opening frame.
On the first, the Chiefs tried and failed to clear their own zone and the puck ended up on the stick of defenceman Max Coyle at the right point. The Spruce Kings blueliner rifled a wrist shot toward the net where Ben Poisson tipped it past Chenard for his fourth of the playoffs.
Then, one Chenard would want back.
Dustin Manz turnstiled a flat-footed Chilliwack defender as he flew down the left wing. Cutting hard to the net, the Michigan native snuck a short-side shot through the netminder with 57 seconds on the clock.
The Chiefs had almost zero offensive zone time in period one, generating just four shots on goal.
Prince George had 14 and led 2-0 through 20 minutes.
They added to their total in the opening minute of the second period. Manz got his second of the game, roofing a sharp-angle backhand shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
The veteran completed the hat-trick at the 5:36 mark, scoring shorthanded to give PG a 4-0 lead.
Spruce Kings D-man Dylan Anhorn carried the puck down the left wing on a two-on-one rush, with Chilliwack’s Marcus Tesink the last man back. Anhorn saucered a pass across the slot to Manz, who put the puck inside the right post.
Chenard’s night ended at 12:04.
With PG forward Nolan Welsh fighting off a Chilliwack defender at the top of the goalie’s crease, Chenard never saw Nick Bochen’s point-shot slapper until he was fishing it out of the net.
Five goals against on 25 shots for the No. 1 netminder and backup Nolan Hildebrand was in the game.
One of his first tasks was staring down Manz on a penalty shot. The 19 year old absorbed a pair of two handed slashes from Harrison Blaisdell as he skated in on a shorthanded breakaway, and the refs directed him to center ice. Manz couldn’t get his fourth of the game though, as Hildebrand stopped him with a well-timed poke-check.
But the goals kept coming for the Spruce Kings, with Anhorn potting a pair in at 18:24 and 19:56 to give PG a 7-0 lead through 40 minutes.
Prince George took their foot off the gas pedal in the final frame, only registering three more shots, and the only question was whether goalie Logan Neaton would get the shutout.
He did, and rather easily too.
The stopper stopped seven third period pucks, none too difficult, earning his first goose-egg of these playoffs and lowering his league-best goals-against average to 1.44.
The visitors got a three star sweep.
The stars were Dustin Manz (first), Dylan Ahorn (second) and Lucas VanRoboys (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Chilliwack’s Cole Donhauser.
The Chiefs are back in action Saturday night, hosting PG with a 7 p.m. start at Prospera Centre.