The Chilliwack Chiefs have guaranteed themselves a berth in the RBC Cup semi-finals after beating the Wellington Dukes 2-0 Tuesday night at Prospera Centre.
Goaltender Daniel Chenard recorded a 26 save shutout as his Chiefs improved their record to 2-1 with one preliminary round game (Thursday vs 0-2 Steinbach) to go.
The Dukes dropped to 1-2, the same record as the Ottawa Junior Senators. Neither team can do better than 2-2, which would leave them tied with Chilliwack in the standings. And with the Chiefs holding head-to-head tiebreakers over both teams, they are assured of a Saturday playoff game.
Well earned based on their effort against Wellington.
“It feels great,” Chenard said afterwards when asked about the shutout. “But honestly it was a team win. The guys blocked so many shots out there. They cleared any rebounds I gave up. I tried to focus one shot at a time and I have confidence in my team because we’re all playing together right now.”
The Chiefs came out on fire in the first period, dominating zone time and getting the only goal in the opening 20.
Will Calverley was at it again, doing his best Tony Tanti (very dated reference?) impression. Henceforth to be known as ‘The Deflector,’ the captain went to the front of the net on a Chilliwack power play, got his stick on a Bryan Allbee wrister from the point, tipping it up and over Dukes goalie Jonah Capriotti at 7:24.
“We have been working on it (deflecting pucks) a lot lately and obviously Will is good at it,” Chenard said. “He scores a lot on me in practice with those.”
The Chiefs penalty kill helped preserve the lead late in the period when back-to-back cross-checking minors to Marcus Tesink and Anthony Vincent put the team two men down for 1:15. The aggressive PK snuffed out the threat without giving up a dangerous scoring chance and Chilliwack carried their one goal lead into the middle frame.
They doubled it at 6:36 on a goal by Corey Andonovski.
As No. 19 in red flew into the Wellington zone, the Dukes D backed in, giving him an open shot from the slot. Capriotti made the stop but Andonovski retrieved the rebound along the right wing wall. Taking a straight line back to the net, Andonovski pulled the puck close to his body as a Wellington player went down to block the low shot. Instead, Andonovski went upstairs, picking the far top corner over Capriotti’s blocker with a lazer shot.
Chilliwack had an amazing chance to extend their lead when the undisciplined Dukes took back-to-back-to-back minors, giving the Chiefs four straight minutes of power play time, including a five-on-three for 2:27.
The Chiefs couldn’t get anything done with the extra man, but Calverley almost got another goal at even strength, storming in on a breakaway from center ice, only to be thwarted by Capriotti’s glove.
Through 40 minutes referees handed out 17 minors and 13 power plays, creating a game with little flow.
They didn’t ease up in the slightest for the third period. Jared Turcotte was banished to the sin bin for an extremely dubious hit to the head, handed a two minute minor and 10 minute misconduct, and the referee arms kept going up. That actually worked in Chilliwack’s favour, with the Dukes unable to generate any momentum.
Wellington’s Andrew Barbeau got so frustrated after getting a two minute slashing minor late in the third period that he smashed his stick against the glass in the penalty box and got tossed from the game.
When his team did threaten in the final frame, young goalie Chenard was there to shut them down. The 17 year old continued his run of strong postseason play, making particularly big third period stops on Mitchell Mendonca and Declan Carlile.
The Dukes finished the game on a power play (surprise!) and had Capriotti pulled with 1:24 remaining and an offensive zone draw, but failed to light the lamp.
“This feels great, but we’ve got that game coming up on Thursday, so we’re trying to focus on that,” Chenard said. “After that we’ll move on, but that’s what we’re thinking about. It’s still a big game and we’ll still work hard because it’s all about habits and we want to maintain our habits.”
Capriotti was Wellington’s Player of the Game with his 40 save effort. Harrison Blaisdell was Chilliwack’s Player of the Game.
Both of these teams have the day off Wednesday. The lone game is a 7 p.m. clash between Ottawa and Steinbach at Prospera Centre.