Happy’s Source for Sports Chiefs have added Tier 1 Midget playoff champions to their 2014/2015 hockey resume. The Chiefs hoisted their second Tier 1 banner after winning a hard-fought three-game battle with the upstart Nanaimo Clippers.
The Clippers won right to play the Island’s top-ranked Midget team in Comox in the finals with a 2-1 victory over the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies in JDF on Feb. 7. Enjoying home ice advantage, the Chiefs took to the ice Feb. 21 for their first playoff final against their Nanaimo rivals.
After taking three successive minor penalties to start the game, the Chiefs relied on stellar goaltending by Matt Henwood to hold the hard-charging Clippers at bay. Eventually finding their stride, the home team jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first period and a held a 4-2 lead after the second.
Blowing the game wide open in the third with five more goals and skating to a 9-2 victory, the Chiefs sealed a dominant victory.
Led by Brayden Bennett, Tyson Slater and Colin Dixon each with two goals, Ty Graham and Brad Crisp chipping in another goal and Caleb Dolman’s goal and four assists, the Chiefs had their way with their south island rivals.
Game two in Nanaimo on Feb. 28 was an entirely different story. The Chiefs started strong, outshooting the Clippers 19-3 in the first period and holding a 2-0 lead on goals by Lynden Lennox and Slater. They gave up a late power-play goal to Nanaimo which began to swing the momentum in the Clippers’ favour. The second period saw the Clippers tie the game 2-2 before Dolman put the Chiefs ahead 3-2 with only seconds left.
The Chiefs were only 20 minutes away from sweeping the series, but playing for pride and wanting to earn their way into the BC Tier 1 Provincial Championships, the Clippers came out hard in the third. Scoring five unanswered goals they skated away with a 7-3 victory.
That set the table for a winner-take-all playoff finale March 1 in Courtenay.
Home ice has its advantages. With an enormous, raucous crowd in attendance, the Chiefs came out hard, once again dominating the first period and outshooting the Clippers 19-5 and taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
But the second saw some push back and with some timely goals the Clippers fought back and ended up taking the lead at the start of the third. After dominating puck possession with strong play by Joe Surgenor and Dom Dietrich, the relentless pressure finally began to take its toll on the Nanaimo defenders. With eight minutes left in the third the Chiefs’ hard work and forecheck paid off with Dolman tying the game at 3-3 from a goal-mouth scrum and setting up a fantastic finish.
Continuing to pile on the pressure, the strong play of Justin Mirabelli was finally rewarded with the go-ahead goal only minutes later, sending the crowd into a frenzy. A stifling defence, timely goaltending and a hard backcheck minimized the Clippers chances to even things up. Chasing down a loose puck in the dying moments of the game, Alex Wilford ensured victory by putting away an impossible angle, open net goal. A heart stopping finish to a record-setting season.
“It’s hard to believe it can get even more exciting than this, but with the BC Championships being held March 15-19 in Comox, your hometown Happy’s Source for Sports Chiefs are poised to make their success a three-peat,” a team spokesperson said. “Come on down and watch some more unbelieveable hockey at SC1!”
– Happy’s Source for Sports Midget Tier 1 Chiefs