CHILLIWACK, British Columbia -- Playing on the road in the post-season is hard enough. But watching a teammate get carted off the ice in the opening minute is hard to overcome regardless of your location.
Despite outshooting their opponent 49 to 30, the Tri-City Americans (2-1-0, 4 pts) seemed out of sync without Neal Prokop, who was taken off the ice in the first 1:02 of the game, eventually falling to the Chilliwack Bruins (1-2-0, 2 pts) 5-1 in front of 3,513 fans at Prospera Centre. With the win, the Bruins clawed back into the best-of-seven series, which Tri-City now leads 2 games to 1. It also marked just the second-ever post-season win for the Bruins. Meanwhile, the Americans are winless in their last three trips to Chilliwack, as they prepare for Game 4, set for tomorrow, March 24 at Prospera Centre. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
Entering Game 3, the Americans had outscored the Bruins 12 to 3 and were looking to make a statement in their first road game of the series. However, the mood on the bench changed just 62 seconds into the game, when Prokop lost an edge and slid into the boards feet first. Prokop would be taken to the local hospital for evaluation while his teammates were left to carry on without him.
The story for the remaining 58:58, though, would be special teams. One game after going 6-for-9 on the power play, the Americans struggled mightily, going 1-for-9 on Tuesday. Meanwhile, after being shut out on the man-advantage in Game 2, the Bruins went 2-for-4 on the power play before penalties late in the game saw them finish 2-for-9.
And, at the 6:10 mark of the first period and on the power play, it was Chilliwack who got the scoring started. Set-up back door, Kevin Sundher buried a two-seam pass from Dylen McKinlay to make it 1-0. With 1:17 remaining in the period, the lead grew to 2-0 on another Bruins' power play. On the same set-up, Roman Horak found Ryan Howse backdoor, who beat Drew Owsley for his first of two goals on the night.
Just 58 seconds into the second period and on a delayed Tri-City penalty call, McKinlay fired a shot in on Owsley from the mid-point. Owsley had the shot glance off his glove and roll across the goal line, putting the Bruins up by three. Then, seven minutes later, another costly error bit Tri-City. After Owsley went to play the puck behind the net, he turned the puck over to McKinlay in the corner. McKinlay threw the puck on net as Owsley scrambled back into the crease. However, Jamie Crooks came in and, somehow, poked the puck into the net from underneath Owsley, making it a four-goal game.
After the goal, Tri-City coach Jim Hiller switched his goaltenders, trying to light a spark under his team. Alexander Pechurskiy was tested early into his arrival, but held strong and kept the Americans within four headed into the third period.
However, with 8:08 gone in the third period, the Americans were caught with all five skaters pinched inside the Chilliwack zone. In the process, Howse was able to slip past the defense and break in all alone on Pechurskiy. Howse fired a shot from the left circle, beating Pechurskiy glove side for his third goal of the series and a 5-0 Bruins lead.
After being robbed countless of times by Lucas Gore though out the game, Brendan Shinnimin finally got a shot past the Chilliwack netminder. With 8:33 remaining in the contest and after a face-off win in the Bruins' end, Adam Hughesman found Shinnimin in the slot, who beat Gore short side on the blocker to snap his shutout bid.
However, despite outchancing the Bruins 22 to 11 in the third period, it proved to be as close as Tri-City could get. Gore finished the night with 48 saves on 49 shots in the win. Meanwhile, Owsley, who was credited with the loss, and Pechurskiy combined for 25 saves on 30 shots.
Applebee's 3 Stars:
1, Lucas Gore, Chilliwack
2, Ryan Howse, Chilliwack
3, Colton Grant, Chilliwack