Just like that, in their fifth year on the ice, the Chase Heat win the opening playoff series, and they do it against the Kamloops Storm.
It took only five games to win the best-of-seven series, and each game brought more tension and excitement for all the fans bit by the hockey bug!
Harkening all the way back a week to Tuesday, Feb. 23, the two combatants were in the Big City for Game 1. Kamloops got on the board first in the first, before Braden Hughes scored a power-play marker from Kolten Moore and Michael Fidanza. Thirty-eight seconds later, Pat Brady gets one from Zachary Fournier and Travis Beaubien. Kamloops ties things up in the second, and then takes the lead in the third. But with one-and-a-half minutes left, Josh Bourne brings the team even, from Mason Palaga and Beaubien. Off to overtime, the Storm pop one in for a nail-biter 4-3 win.
The next night, the 24th in Kamloops, was a different kettle of fish. Kamloops got the opening score, but that was it. The Heat scored six unanswered goals to claim a 6-1 victory and tie up the series. It was Austin Willier in the first from Bourne and Alex Durbeniuk. In the second, Trevor Okino got a pair, the first from Beaubien and Palaga, the second from Beaubien. The third period saw Rylan Van Unen get a single from Tommy Brown and Hughes. Fournier got an unassisted empty netter and then Hughes on the power play from Okino and Brown put a huge star beside this one in the win column.
Back in Chase on Friday the 26th, Game 3 saw the Heat open scoring, Beaubien from Fournier and Kaden Black. In the second, the Storm sandwiched a single in between the winner and insurance goals from Chase.
It was Durbeniuk from Bourne and Willier, and Moore from Spencer Farstad and Brady. In the first three games, Nic Bruyere saw 122 fired at him while stopping all but six!
Game 4 was Saturday night the 27th at the Art Holding Memorial Arena. No scoring in the first, Kamloops got two in the second before Hughes started the comeback from Bourne and Okino. In the third, Black tied it up and, with nine seconds left in regulation, Beaubien got the winner, a redirect off his chest from Durbeniuk and Farstad.
If you thought the first four games were a thrill a minute, it is impossible to explain the tension-filled drama in Game 5, Monday, the 29th.
The Heat get the only marker of the first, Brown from Hughes and Moore. In the 2nd Kamloops pops in a couple. In the 3rd, Moore notches things at 2-2, from Van Unen and Brown. Off to sudden-death overtime for 10 minutes, nothing resolved. In the second 20-minute overtime period with the Heat having domination, who else but Beaubien scores from Fournier and Black with 1:02 left in the period. The 150 to 200 Chase Heat fans in attendance in Kamloops jumped out of their pants in celebration and the lads were loudly cheered off the ice in recognition of their superb effort and gamesmanship.
Next up is the division’s Number 1 seed, the 100 Mile House Wranglers. That series will start in the Cariboo and return to Chase for games three and four. Watch social media sites for dates. All games will be at 7 p.m.
Overtime: Bruyere faced 214 shots in the five games, only letting 10 sneak by. Game 3 saw 428 fans, and Game 4 – 341 fans –watch their hometown junior hockey stars rock the rink. Beaubien is second KIJHL-wide in scoring with three goals, four assists for seven points along with his boom boom 18 minutes in the sin bin. Don’t miss what is coming up, eyes wide open, mouth wide open, end to end flash, dash and crash is on the menu – all served up hot, hot, hot in the coolest place in town. Be there!