Chilliwack Chiefs spoiled dreams of a playoff sweep by the Langley Rivermen Tuesday night, staving off elimination with a 2-1 win at the George Preston Arena before nearly 900 fans.
Matteo Pecchia was the lone Langley goal scorer, slipping a shot behind the goalie to record his first of the postseason.
Rivermen pressed hard in the final frame, putting goalie Braedon Fleming on the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute, but the Chiefs weathered the storm.
Fleming was named second star of the game.
Riverman defenceman Jake Livingstone was named the Fortis BC “energy player of the game.”
All the scoring in Tuesday’s game came during the second period.
After a goal-free first period, Chiefs forward Brett Willits opened the scoring at 2:35 of the second, scoring on a Chilliwack power play.
Three Chiefs defencemen worked together for the second goal at 7:07, with Max Wutzke and Mitch Andres assisting Nathan Kelly.
Chief goaltender Daniel Chenard has a good game.
The netminder has been pulled after 20 minutes in game three, having given up three goals on 10 shots.
But in game five, Chenard stopped 38 puck.
Still trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Chiefs are home in Chilliwack for game five against the Rivermen on Thursday, knowing they need three straight wins to stay alive.
Coming into the opening round of the 2019 Chevrolet BCHL Playoffs as major underdogs, the Rivermen have found a way to take down the heavily favoured Chiefs who have the best home record in the league this season.
Despite playing at home, Chilliwack could not find a way to match the physicality of Langley during the first two games.
The Rivermen opened the scoring in the first with goals from Ethan Leyh and Tanner Versluis, but the Chiefs followed with three-straight goals of their own.
Keeping the pressure up, the ‘Men finally broke through with a goal from rookie Mark Gallant with just less than five minutes to play.
With the game tied and under two minutes left in the period, Leyh fired a shot in front of the net from the corner and banked it off a Chilliwack defenders skate into the back of the net to secure the 5-4 victory.
Langley goaltender Braedon Fleming finished with 37 saves in the win.
Game two proved to be equally as entertaining from both teams. Chilliwack’s Skyler Brind’Amour opened the scoring in the first.
Jake Livingstone and Gallant followed up their own tallies to put the Rivermen ahead in the opening frame. Brett Willits managed to tie it up for the Chiefs in the second.
After that, it was a goaltenders’ duel as Fleming and Chenard each stood tall to force the game into overtime. A back and forth overtime sent it into double overtime, where Langley finally put the dagger into the Chiefs.
Chipping in front of the net, the puck managed to reach captain Alec Capstick’s stick at the point.
He sent it over to Colten Kovich, who in turn passed it to Daneel Lategan on the side, and centered it to an open Gallant for the one-timed marker.
Fleming once again proved to be the unsung hero, making 52 saves in the 3-2 victory.
In game three, BCHL series, with Gallant scoring four goals and Braedon Fleming earning the shutout as the Rivermen dominated the Chiefs 5-0.
Gallant and Fleming were named the first and third stars of the game, with Garrett Daly making it an all-Langley cast.
Devin Leduc was named Firtios BC “energy player.”
– with files from Eric Welsh, Black Press Media