Sometimes the schedule does you no favours. The Chilliwack Chiefs played their third game in three nights Friday night, hosting the Powell River Kings at Prospera Centre less than 24 hours after playing the Spruce Kings in Prince George. A tough task on its own, but tougher still when the Kings hadn’t played since Nov. 26. Doesn’t seem fair does it? And the result was predictable. Powell River survived a late Chiefs rally and made off with a 5-3 win against an opponent that wasn’t so much sluggish as sloppy, committing mental errors that might not happen if they weren’t so tired. Ben Berard had the visitors up by one just 4:22 into the first period. The 17 year old got a winger win on a faceoff to the left of the Chilliwack net, digging the puck out and snapping a top-shelf shot past Chiefs netminder Mark Sinclair. Coming off a 46 save effort Thursday night in a 3-2 win in Prince George, Sinclair had to be just as sharp in the opening frame of this one. He stared down a handful of point-blank chances while Powell River’s Brian Wilson matched him save for save at the other end. Chilliwack held a 10-8 edge in shots through 20 minutes and at least a third of those were blue chippers. The Chiefs went next-level in the second period, holding a big advantage in shots and zone time. But somehow, they came out of it facing a three-goal deficit. Kohen Olischefski finally snuck the puck past Wilson at 10:48, briefly tying the game at 1-1. On a Chilliwack power play, No. 21 skated into the slot, took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi and rifled a bullet over Wilson’s glove for his 10th of the year. But the Kings retook the lead at the 13 minute mark on a goal by Liam Lawson. The Chiefs let Lawson sneak behind the D as linemate Curtis McCarrick flew down the right wing. McCarrick flipped a saucer pass into the slot and Lawson slipped the puck through Sinclair’s legs. Cam Donaldson buried his team-leading 22nd of the year on a Powell River power play at 14:11, and Tristan Mullin scored on a two-on-one rush with 3:24 on the clock. The Kings led 4-1 despite being out-shot 14-7 in the middle frame.
To their credit, the Chiefs didn’t pack it in.
In fact, they scratched tooth and nail to get back in it and almost pulled off an unlikely comeback.
Chilliwack got within two at 8:02 on a Tommy Lee goal.
With his team already on the power play, Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic brought Sinclair to the bench to get a six-on-four. The move paid off immediately when defenceman Colin Bernard launched a low point shot that Wilson stopped. Lee was on the doorstep to grab the rebound, punching it in for his 13th of the year.
With just over eight minutes to play Chilliwack got within one, with Davis Bunz one-timing a point shot rocket past Wilson. But Jonny Evans put the rally dreams to bed with 3:10 remaining, sniping his 17th of the season.
Final shots on goal favoured the Chiefs 40-22.
The three stars were Lee (first), Wilson (second) and Mullin (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Justin Dixson.
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