The Chilliwack Bruins blanked the visiting Everett Silvertips 3-0 Saturday night at Prospera Centre in the last regular season game of the 2010-11 season.
Final playoff positions are still up in the air, but the Bruins know they will face either Spokane or the Tri-Cit Americans in the Western Hockey League playoffs, starting next week. Chilliwack’s opponent will be determined tomorrow night as Vancouver faces Everett. If the Giants collect a point, the Bruins finish sixth and draw Spokane. If Vancouver loses, the Bruins finish fifth and draw Tri-City.
Either way, the good guys will have an extremely tough first-round opponent.
Chilliwack netminder Lucas Gore was the busiest of the goalies in the first period of this one, making a couple stellar stops to keep the game scoreless.
His best came off the stick of 19-year-old Josh Birkholz, who spun away from a Mitch Topping check along the right wing boards and worked his way into prime shooting territory. The Florida Panthers prospect thought he had a sure goal, but Gore kicked out the right leg pad for the vintage toe save.
Chilliwack generated 10 shots through 20 minutes, but ex-Bruins prospect Luke Siemens stood tall and stopped them all.
But the Bruins took just 39 seconds to solve the Siemens puzzle in period two. Parker Stanfield (cross-checking) started the middle frame in the penalty box, putting Chilliwack on the power play. With the man advantage, Kevin Sundher fed a cross-ice pass through a crowd to Roman Horak, who buried the biscuit for his 26th.
Gore continued to frustrate the Silvertip shooters at the other end, and again, Birkholz was his most notable victim.
Ex-Bruin Scott MacDonald created a blue chip chance with a failed wraparound that bounced to Birkholz in the slot. Left completely uncovered, the big winger had tons of time to pick his spot. But Gore challenged well and smothered the shot, preserving Chilliwack’s one goal lead.
Shots on goal through 40 minutes favoured Everett 23-21.
The Bruins continued to be aces at protecting third period leads, closing out the Tips with ruthless efficiency.
Chilliwack’s Kevin Sundher added the all-important insurance goal at the 5:51 mark, scoring his 23rd of the year on a shorthanded breakaway. The Buffalo Sabres prospect pressured Ryan Murray into coughing up the puck at the Bruin blueline and used his speed to get away. In alone on Siemens, the Surrey native went with a quick backhand-forehand deke, stuffing the puck just inside the left goal post.
Sundher added his 24th of the season three minutes later, beating Siemens with a hot shot from the slot. The only suspense left at that point was whether Gore would collect his fifth goose-egg of the season. Ryan Harrison had the best chance to thwart the shutout bid. He parked himself at the top of the blue paint and got his stick on a Tyler Maxwell centering pass, only to see the puck fly harmlessly over the cross-bar.
The Bruins killed off the remaining time without incident, giving Gore the shutout and themselves a final regular season record of 33-31-4-4.
The three stars were Gore (first), Sundher (second) and Jeff Einhorn (third).