The Chilliwack Chiefs blew a glorious chance to dump the Langley Rivermen and move on to the second round of the BCHL playoffs.
Up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and up 3-0 on the scoreboard in Saturday night’s game five, the Chiefs ended up losing 6-4.
Not often has game turned as suddenly as this one did, considering how great things looked after 20 minutes.
Langley starter Bo Didur was forced to leave game four after being hit by his own teammate, and couldn’t go in game five. Into the breach stepped backup Braedon Fleming, who likely yearned for his quiet spot on the bench after coughing up three goals in the first period.
Chilliwack pumped 15 pucks on net and Ben Fanjoy opened the scoring just 1:59 in.
A Tommy Lee shot hit Chiefs D-man Colin Bernard and Fleming’s head before settling in the blue paint.
Fanjoy had only to nudge it across the line for the easiest goal he’ll ever score.
Justin Dixson doubled the Chilliwack lead at 5:31, driving hard to the net off a rush down the right wing and stuffing the puck inside the far post.
A pretty Linden Hora snipe at 16:52 had fans in the crowd chanting, “Fleming’s a pylon,’ though it was hardly his fault. A perfect lead pass from Davis Bunz sprung Hora on a breakaway and the veteran rifled a top-shelf shot past Fleming.
The Rivermen roared back with five second period goals.
Ryan Barrow got Langley on the board just 18 seconds into the middle frame. Gliding down the right wing, he used a drag move to evade a diving Chilliwack defender and snapped a shot over the blocker of Chiefs netminder Mark Sinclair.
Sinclair wasn’t happy with the second Rivermen goal, scoring on a power play at 1:57. The goalie was jolted by Langley’s Max Kaufman as Cam Ginnetti put a shot on net, and wasn’t in position to stop the puck as it zipped by him into the net.
Kohen Olischefski briefly stopped the bleeding. Anthony Vincent created a turnover behind the Rivermen net and Jordan Kawaguchi put a pass into the goal-mouth where Olischefski lasered it past Fleming at 2:44.
But Langley kept coming and Sean Gulka collected his first of the game at 9:19.
McKay Flanagan scored the fourth Rivermen goal at 10:21. With a delayed penalty coming up, the point man one-timed a Brendan Budy feed, rocketing a five-hole shot through Sinclair for his first of the series.
Gulka’s second of the game at 17:13 gave the visitors their first lead.
The Chiefs had lots of zone time in period three and sent 11 pucks Fleming’s way. But a Kaufman empty netter in the final minute put Chilliwack away, sending the Rivermen home with a chance to push this series to seven..
Puck drop for game six is 6 p.m.
The three stars were Barrow (first), Fanjoy (second) and Gulka (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Vincent.
Announced attendance was 2,831.