After experiencing the high of forcing a fifth and deciding game, the Prince George Spruce Kings were bounced from the B.C. Hockey League playoffs Wednesday night in Chilliwack.
The Kings fell 5-2 to the Chilliwack Chiefs and, in the process, dropped the Mainland Division semifinal series three games to two.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period but the Chiefs broke the game open with a second-period goal by Philip Zielonka and third-period markers by Mathieu Tibbet and Austin Plevy. Tibbet's winner, at 1:07 of the third, came off the rebound of a shot by Spencer Graboski. The play started when Graboski danced around Spruce Kings defenceman Kevin Guiltinan at the Prince George blueline.
Plevy increased the Chilliwack lead to 4-1 before Sean Landrey gave the Kings some life with a goal at 9:44 of the third. Landrey took a pass from Shayne Morrissey, who was positioned behind the Chiefs' net, and made no mistake against goaltender Mitch Gillam. But Plevy capped off the scoring when he hit an empty net with four seconds left on the clock.
The Chiefs will open the best-of-five Mainland Division final Friday night in Surrey against the Eagles, who were the top team during the regular season with a 35-13-3-5 record. In the first round of playoffs, the Chiefs skated past the Langley Rivermen in four games.
On Wednesday, the Spruce Kings and Chiefs exchanged first-period goals, with affiliate player Braiden Epp doing the damage for the Kings and Josh Hansen replying for the Chiefs.
Epp, who joined the Spruce Kings after his Cariboo Cougars were eliminated from the Major Midget League playoffs last weekend, opened the scoring at 1:13 with his first BCHL goal. The 16-year-old forward finished off a two-on-one rush with David Stephens, an odd-man situation that was created when Chilliwack defenceman Shay Laurent fell at the blueline. Epp was one of the best Prince George players all night and will be part of the team on a full-time basis next season.
Hansen's goal, at 7:20, came after Kings' goalie Kirk Thompson made an initial save on Luke Esposito.
The Chiefs outshot the Kings 39-37 in front of 2,177 fans at Prospera Centre.
The Kings forced Game 5 when they downed the Chiefs 5-2 on Tuesday night in Prince George.
The Kings won the series-opener 3-1 and the Chiefs took the middle two games 10-1 and 5-3.