Jordan Kawaguchi scored once and had two assists Friday night as his Chilliwack Chiefs took game one of the Fred Page Cup BCHL final.
Mark Sinclair stopped 36 pucks in a 4-2 win at Prospera Centre, earning first star honours and helping his team draw first blood in a best of seven series that continues Saturday night in Chilliwack.
Griffin Mendel was one of two Vees to beat the red-hot Chiefs netminder. He did it just 90 seconds in, gliding down the left wing and rifling a top-shelf blocker-side shot from the faceoff dot.
But the Vees lead didn’t last long.
Linden Hora came to play, setting the tone with a couple bone-crunching hits. First, No. 17 flattened Joseph Leahy in the neutral zone, then Hora delivered a jolt to Nicholas Jones.
Hora didn’t get a point on the first Chilliwack goal, but he deserved an unofficial assist for the havoc he created in the crease. Hora and Kohen Olischefski were both in front of Vees goalie Matthew Robson as Jake Smith put a shot on net. With Hora causing chaos, Olly was able to bang home the rebound.
Olischefski collected an assist on the second Chiefs goal. From behind the net he put a centering pass into the slot for Anthony Vincent. The Connecticut kid fought off a Vee defender and slipped a backhand shot under Robson for a 2-1 Chilliwack lead.
Checking back into the lineup after missing 12 games with an injury, Kale Kane drew the penalty that led to the third Chiefs goal.
On a solo rush into the Vee zone the Quebec native split the defence and forced Mitch Meek to hook him. On the power play that followed Jordan Kawaguchi fired a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle and Smith went to the net to cash in the rebound for his sixth of the playoffs.
Sharp all game, Sinclair was at the top of his game in the final frame. His best stop came off a Gabe Bast breakaway, set up when Ben Fanjoy opted to try dangle moves at the Penticton blueline. Bast had all day to think about his move but had the puck roll off his stick at the last second.
Penticton beat him once in period three, and it came on the shift after the Bast breakaway.
Off a defensive zone draw, Chilliwack D-man Colin Bernard was hounded off the puck by Chris Klack. Klack made a quick pass to Nicholas Jones in the slot and the Edmonton native snapped the puck past Sinclair with 7:23 to go.
Captain K put the Vees away at 17:58, taking advantage of a giveaway by Penticton D-man James Miller. The Vee D coughed the puck up in the left faceoff circle, then let Kawaguchi dangle his way into the slot where he beat Robson on the backhand.
Final shots 0n goal were tied 38-38.
The three stars were Sinclair (first), Smith (second), Mendel (third).
The Fortis BC Energy Player of the Game was Linden Hora.
Announced attendance was 2,577.
Puck drop for game two Saturday night is 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre.