by Eddie Gregory I
Chase Danol for the Express and Harrison Blaisdell for the Chiefs each had hat-tricks, but it was Chilliwack tickling the twine more often in a 7-5 victory over the Express. Click here for boxscore
The first game back from the Christmas break usually ends up being a sloppy affair due to the rust on both sides. That held true in the Fraser Valley.
Chilliwack got the early jump on the Express on a Matt Holmes backhand sliding it under Clay Stevenson on the first shot of the game just 1:42 into the contest.
It took about 5 minutes for the Express to find their skating legs. Once they did some chances started to come. Connor Gregga who went into the Christmas break on a tear had one of the few chances not go his way with a backhand that hit the post in tight on Nolan Hildebrand.
On a first period powerplay Alex DiPaolo set up in the slot clanged a shot off the goal post that could be heard all the way in Abbotsford.
Then Chase Danol was robbed by Hildebrand after the netminder handed the puck to Danol who quickly snapped off a shot, but Hildebrand recovered for his best save of the first period.
Danol would get his revenge minutes later ripping a shot from his off wing for his first of the night and a 1-1 tie after 20 minutes
The Express got their only lead of the night just over 3 minutes into the second period off a Regan Kimens dump in that hit a stanchion and bounced right to a surprised Connor Gregga who was robbed by Hildebrand who went out to play the puck. But there was a rebound for Josh Wildauer to jam in for a 2-1 Express lead.
Then came a key turning point in the game. Henry Rybinski split the Chilliwack defence then went to the net and in the process collided with Nolan Hildebrand. The Chiefs goaltender was shaken up a little on the play, but quickly shook off the effects of the contact.
Rybinski meanwhile was given a 5 minute major for a game misconduct.
Just over a minute into the powerplay the Chiefs struck. A Jacques Bouquot backhand was deflected ever so slightly in front of the net by Harrison Blaisdell to tie the game at 2.
Just over two minutes later Cole Donhauser converted a set up at the side of the Express net for the Chiefs second powerplay goal on the Rybinski major.
Following the game the 5 minute major to Rybinski was reviewed by BCHL Director of Officiating Brad Lazarowich and the penalty was reduced to a two minute minor penalty. If the major stood, Rybinski may have faced a two game suspension under the terms of the Junior A Supplement.
Chilliwack carried the momentum into their next powerplay where Jacques Boquot was set up in the slot for the Chiefs third powerplay goal of the frame and a 4-2 lead.
The third period didn’t start well for the Express as in the opening minute a turnover behind the net quickly resulted in Carter Wilkie getting set up in the slot and snapping a wrist shot past the glove of Clay Stevenson.
Credit to the Express they never gave up. Chase Danol 5 and a half minutes into the 3rd deflected a Jordan Schulting point shot to make it a 5-3 contest.
It was at this point every time the Express would strike, the Chiefs would have a response.
Harrison Blaisdell took a pass in behind the Express defence and slid him his second of the night to make it 6-3 at 9:50.
The Express response to that goal was Jared Power finishing off a Connor Gregga set up to make it 6-4 at 12:09.
Blaisdell took care of the Chiefs response with his hat-trick goal taking advantage of the space given to him by the defence and snapping a shot past the glove of Stevenson for the Chiefs third three goal lead of the third period. Clay Stevenson was beat for 7 goals on 30 shots.
Chase Danol would finish off his first BCHL hat-trick by sneaking in his 20th of the season with 2:37 to play.
The Express are right back in action Sunday afternoon when they host the Langley Rivermen in the Express annual Coquitlam Comets night.