Chilliwack shows grit in defeat
Rockets 4, Bruins 3 so: Same old mistakes costly once again
Marc Weber, Sports Reporter
Published: Monday, March 10, 2008
CHILLIWACK -- The Bad News Bears thought they'd finally found some honey Sunday night, but they ended up getting stung by the Kelowna Rockets.
Tyson Barrie and Cody Almond scored the only goals of the shootout as the Rockets (36-25-2-6) clipped the Chilliwack Bruins 4-3 in front of an announced sellout crowd at Prospera Centre.
Losers of seven straight and 10 of 11 games coming in, the Bruins (26-33-4-5) overcame a bumbling start and appeared to be on track for a victory when Oscar Moller scored a show-stopping, short-handed breakaway goal to put his team ahead 3-2 at 8:09 of the third.
Oscar Moller (right), Mark Santorelli and Ryan Howse celebrate Moller's first-period goal against Kelowna.
Bob Frid -- freemotionphotography.ca
But with Vancouver Canucks brass Dave Nonis and Steve Tambellini looking on, Kelowna defenceman and top prospect Luke Schenn, who watched Moller chip it past him on the go-ahead goal, redeemed himself.
Schenn lugged the puck through the neutral zone and wired a 20-foot wrist shot high to the blocker on Matt Esposito to knot the game at 3-3 with 6:22 remaining.
In the shootout, Barrie went backhand and scored upstairs, then, after Chilliwack defenceman Nick Holden lost the puck trying to deke, Almond won it with a slick backhand move through Esposito's five-hole.
"We went down early, but we battled through," said Bruins forward Evan Pighin, who tried to spark his team by dropping the gloves with James McEwan off the opening draw.
"It's too bad it was decided in a shootout, but we learned that bounces are going to go our way if we work at it."
Chilliwack's skid has been marked by defensive miscues and poor goaltending. After a tantalizing first 25 seconds that featured Pighin's scrap and a group scrum behind the Bruins' net, those two vices reared up and booted them firmly in the midsection.
The game shifted suddenly from old-time hockey to same-old-Bruins hockey.
Thirty-three seconds in, defenceman Jeff Einhorn whiffed on a pass out of his zone and Long beat Esposito through the five-hole from the high slot. Six minutes later, Esposito and his defencemen got their signals crossed on a dump-in -- their combined efforts gifting a goal to Milan Kytnar.
Three Kelowna shots. Two goals.
Yet credit Chilliwack for not hanging their heads. They kept on hitting. They tightened up defensively -- allowing just 18 shots on the night -- and they earned a point and a little confidence with the playoffs looming.
"I think we did see it as a step forward," said Pighin, who tipped Brandon Campos's power-play point shot off the post in the final two minutes of regulation.
Moller and Campos had knotted the game up by the midway point of the second period -- Moller now with 39 goals on the season. He was reunited Sunday with Mark Santorelli after the two spent a month on different lines to balance out the offence. [email protected]
© The Vancouver Province 2008