By Jason LaRose, Hockey Canada
CHILLIWACK, B.C. – Lucas Sowder went end-to-end for the winner just 18 seconds into overtime, giving the Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) a 2-1 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) to finish the opening day of play Saturday at the 2018 RBC Cup.
The game was the fifth all-BCHL match-up at Canada’s National Junior A Championship since 1990, and the first since the Vernon Vipers edged the Victoria Grizzlies 5-4 in overtime in 2009.
Off a won face-off to begin the extra period, Slava Demin slipped a short pass to Sowder and he did the rest, dancing his way into the Chilliwack zone and around a defenceman before going five-hole on goaltender Daniel Chenard.
Chenard and Wenatchee counterpart Austin Park were the story through much of the first two periods, keeping the game scoreless with a number of clutch saves.
They also got help from a friend – Skyler Brind’Amour rang a shot off the post behind Park early in the first period, and August Von Ungern did the same behind Chenard in the opening minutes of the second.
The Chiefs capitalized on a home-ice bounce to open the scoring in the middle frame; a shot from Kyle Yewchuk banked perfectly off the end boards and onto the stick of Jared Turcotte, who beat a diving Park to put the hosts up 1-0.
Chenard did his part in the third period to keep it a one-goal game, making 15 of his 32 saves, but Wild captain A.J. Vanderbeck found a loose puck at the side of the net and beat the Chilliwack puck-stopper from a sharp angle to tie the game at 10:15 and set up the OT heroics from Sowder.
The Chiefs and Wild met twice during the regular season, with each team winning on home ice – Chilliwack earned a 5-4 victory on Oct. 6, while Wenatchee returned the favour with a 4-2 triumph on Nov. 24.
Wenatchee is right back to action Sunday afternoon, taking on the debuting Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (2 p.m. PT), right before Chilliwack takes on the Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL) (7 p.m. PT).