The line of Josh Hansen, Luke Esposito and Austin Plevy combined for 16 points over two games as the Chilliwack Chiefs put the brakes on the Mainland Division-leading Coquitlam Express last weekend.
The Chiefs scored four times in the first 10 minutes en route to a 6-3 victory over the Express in Coquitlam Friday night. The following evening, the two teams played to a 4-4 tie in an exciting, back-and-forth affair that featured 113 shots on goal, an overtime penalty shot and the second-period ejection of Chiefs head coach Harvey Smyl.
After relying on stingy defence and spectacular goaltending from Mitch Gill-ma through their first seven games, the Chiefs-who hadn't potted more than four goals in a game-were finally able to shoot their way to victory Friday.
Coquitlam netminder Cole Huggins entered the game having not allowed more than two goals in a game. But David Thompson beat him just 49 seconds into the first period. The Express tied the game three minutes later, but Hansen and Mathieu Tibbet quickly responded, driving Huggins from the net after just 8: 29. Just 50 seconds after Huggins left, Hansen beat his replacement, Daniel Urbani, for his second goal of the game.
The Chiefs allowed two power play goals in the third period, but a tally by Austin Plevy and an empty-netter by Ryan Donohoe-his first goal of the year-sealed the Chilliwack win.
Luke Esposito registered four assists on the night, and Hansen tallied a pair of assists and four points. Plevy finished with three points.
Donohoe's goal might have been into a vacant net with just six seconds left, but it primed him for Saturday's game, in which he scored twice, including the opener just 1: 25 in. Plevy, Hansen and Esposito were again a constant threat. All three celebrated goals-although Esposito's second period backhander was called back, which led to Smyl's ejection.
Esposito's shot had beat Huggins over the shoulder. It hit iron, but Esposito and the Chiefs thought the puck hit the crossbar at the back of the net. However, after a lengthy consultation with a linesman and then the goal judge, referee Nick Swaine ruled the puck had hit the post, and hadn't crossed the goal line.
Smyl vehemently disagreed, and Swaine tossed him for his protestations. If the Chiefs got unlucky on the non-goal, the hockey Gods made up for it on Donohoe's tying marker, when Huggins tried to reel in a juicy rebound, but instead ended up pulling it under his own body and into the net.
Hansen's hot hand continued in the third as his wrist shot beat Huggins to give Chilliwack the lead. But the Express's Alexander Kerfoot took advantage of poor coverage by the Chiefs' defence to send the contest to overtime.
There, Huggins made up for his earlier gaffe in the second. He made 13 shots in overtime-including one on an Esposito penalty shot. (Penalty shots are awarded for any infraction during the three-on-three period.) The Express goaltender finished with 59 saves. Gillam was marginally less busy, turning away 46.
Giant ex-Giant now with Chiefs
Defenceman Kiefer McNaughton, who was cut last month by the Vancouver Giants, made his debut for the Chiefs Friday. The six-foot-three defenceman recorded an assist Saturday. McNaughton played 42 games for the Giants last year.
He previously suited up for the Quesnel Millionaires, in 2010-11, and the Nanaimo Clippers, in 2009-10.