NE Chiefs split series with OK Rockets

Derek Hughes of the Vancouver North East Chiefs stretches to play the puck against the Okanagan Rockets Sunday morning at Planet Ice.

Derek Hughes of the Vancouver North East Chiefs stretches to play the puck against the Okanagan Rockets Sunday morning at Planet Ice.

Maple Ridge’s Matthew Bissett scored six points last weekend as the Vancouver North East Chiefs strengthened their hold on the sixth and final B.C. Hockey Major Midget League playoff berth, despite splitting their two-game series with the visiting Okangan Rockets.

Both Bissett and Jamie Waddington registered a pair of goals and a pair of assists Saturday afternoon as the Maple Ridge-based Chiefs downed the Rockets 5-4 at home at Planet Ice.

The Rockets took a 2-0 lead in the first period before Joey Santucci got the Chiefs on the board with seven minutes to go in the opening frame. The Rockets regained their two-goal lead early in the second period, only to see it wiped out by Bissett’s pair of goals, and another from Waddington. The teams went into the third period tied 4-4, but Waddington’s second of the night, score three minutes into the final frame, would prove to be the winner.

Daniel Del Bianco had a trio of assists, while Santucci also picked up a helper.

The Rockets again got out in front of the Chiefs on Sunday, however this time they were able to hold on and deny the Chiefs the series sweep. Okanagan opened the scoring four minutes in and held the one-goal lead until the dying seconds of the period, when Waddington scored his third goal of the weekend with 17 seconds left to tie the game at one apiece.

The Rockets kept coming in the second, however, and took a two-goal lead into the third period after a pair of goals early in the second.

Dominic Centis got the Chiefs within one with nine minutes left to play, however the Rockets regained their two-goal cushion five minutes later, and sealed their 5-2 victory with another goal with 20 seconds left to play.

Bissett chipped in a pair of assists, while Taylor Green added a helper as well.

The Rockets started the weekend three points back of the Chiefs for the sixth and final playoff spot in the BCMML Playoffs. With the split, the Chiefs remain three points ahead of the Rockets with four games to play. The last playoff spot will come down to the Chiefs, Rockets, or North Island Silvertips, who also sit three points back of the Chiefs.

The Chiefs travel to Chase this weekend to take on the last-place Thompson Blazers (1-34-1) for a two-game series before facing the third-place Cariboo Cougars (25-10-1) for a pair of games in Langley and Abbotsford in the BCMML’s final weekend of the regular season, Feb 26 and 27.