The Chilliwack Chiefs Junior A hockey team, assistant-captained by Whistlers Matt Gibbons, lost a 4-3 a nail biter in the Royal Bank Cup semi-finals last weekend against the OCN Blizzard from Manitoba.
It wasnt for a lack of trying. The Chiefs peppered OCN goalie Marc-Andre Leclerc with 47 shots on May 12 and were denied 44 times.
Down 2-0, Gibbons is credited with an assist in the first period on a goal that gave the Chiefs back their momentum for the second period, where at one point they were up 3-2. OCN came back however, and the period ended in a 3-3 tie. In the third period, the 20-year-old Gibbons also had one of the Chiefs best chances, and by all accounts was robbed by the red-hot Leclerc. OCN scored a fourth goal with less than five minutes left and held onto the lead to the end.
OCN went to the Royal Bank Cup finals against the Halifax Oland Experts, where they lost 3-1.
The Chiefs played the Halifax club earlier in the tournament, losing 4-3 in overtime, which goes to show that it could have been anyones Cup this year.
The Royal Bank Cup goes to the winner of the Canadian Junior A Championships, where the best teams from Junior A federations across the country compete.
The Chiefs were the top team in the B.C.H.L. this year, taking the Doyle Cup with 46 wins, four ties, and only 10 losses.
Gibbons was a workhorse for the Chiefs this season, playing in all 60 games, the BCHL all-star game, and finishing third on the overall scoring list with 28 goals and 73 assists. He also stayed out of the box on most nights with just 67 penalty minutes, which isnt easy when you play on one of the toughest second lines in the league.
Gibbons has not signed with a team for next year, but says he hopes to earn a scholarship to play first division NCAA hockey. Whistlers Tyler Dufour went that route the year before, and this year was a freshman with the Quinnipiac Braves.