WEST KELOWNA - Jordan Kawaguchi broke the West Kelowna Warriors fans hearts with his overtime winner on Wednesday night, as the Chilliwack Chiefs bounced back from a late Warriors rally to win 4-3 in the extra frame.
Chilliwack opened up the scoring in the first period with a pair of goals just 61 seconds apart, as Kohen Olischefski picked the top corner to make it 1-0, then Taylor Allan wrapped one around and in moments later while the first goal was announced.
There was stunned silence from the Warriors crowd of 1,134, and the Chiefs made them sit on their hands further with a power-play goal from Rylan Bechtel with just over three minutes left in the opening period.
The Warriors were a better team in the second period, creating opportunities that they couldn't bury, and when they finally did bury one, Liam Blackburn had his goal called back. The officials deemed that Blackburn had inadvertently contacted the Chilliwack goaltender and prevented him from making the save, so the goal was disallowed.
After a chorus of boos rained down, the Warriors drew a penalty right off the draw, and Jake LeBrun got the fans on their feet and cut the lead to two with just 21.9 seconds remaining.
In the third, Kylar Hope's wrap-around goal with 11:10 to go got West Kelowna within one, but none of their other 12 shots in the frame could find the back of the net, until the final minute.
With Matthew Greenfield on the bench, the Warriors Blackburn sent a cross ice pass to Hope, who scored on the one timer with just 12.9 seconds to play, sending RLP into pandemonium.
After the intermission, fans tried to push the Warriors over the edge for the win, and it almost worked, but Jonathan Desbiens was robbed by the left pad of Aidan Pelino, and the rebound cleared out of the zone.
It was the perfect storm for the Chiefs, who had leading scorer Kawaguchi coming off the bench, and made a nice little move to beat Greenfield with the shot, and put the Chiefs into the win column for the second time.
In this third round, it's "3 WINS TO GET IN" and now both the Nanaimo Clippers and Chilliwack Chiefs have picked up their second, while the Warriors have one.
In simple terms, the Warriors face the Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday looking for their second win and forcing a Page Playoff starting Sunday in Chilliwack for the two spots, or will face the Chiefs on Sunday with their backs against the wall.
Friday, April 8 - West Kelowna @ Nanaimo - 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 10 - West Kelowna @ Chilliwack - 5 p.m.