Jonny Evans outraced Cody Van Lierop to the puck down the sideboards and made his team’s 59th shot of the night count Friday at The Q Centre.
Evans beat Victoria Grizzlies goaltender Matthew Galajda 3:16 into the second overtime to give the Powell River Kings a 3-2victory in game 1 of the B.C. Hockey League’s Island Division playoff final.
The goal ended a back-and-forth affair that saw both teams enjoy stretches of dominant play, including in the extra time.
And Saturday night they do it all again back in Colwood, starting at 7 p.m.
”Every game’s been tight against them, so we kind of knew we were going to go down to the stretch,” said Evans, who was largely kept in check on the night by a solid Grizzlies defence. “But tomorrow’s going to be a battle just like today, we’re just going to have to be ready.”
The teams traded goals starting with Jack Long’s fluky shot for the Kings 8:33 into the first period. A seemingly innocent looking shot glanced off a Grizzlies defenceman, changed direction and eluded Galajda, who was well out of the net.
Lucas Clark, from Cole Pickup and Van Lierop, got one back for the locals 17:40 into the second on the power play, after the Kings were assessed a bench minor for too many men.
Long bagged his second goal midway through the third off a goalmouth scramble to make it 2-1, but Jamie Rome found a hole and beat Powell River goalie Brian Wilson to tie it again a minute later. Clark and Pickup set up the goal.
The Kings outshot the Grizzlies 18-11 in the first overtime period, 4-2 in the second OT and 59-50 overall.
Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon liked the way his team played overall, noting that the Kings had more “puck luck” than his team on the night.
“I thought we had some good chances, the guys worked hard and we felt it out pretty good … it is what it is, someone had togo down the first game,” he said. “It’s going to be a long (series). I think with us it’s fuel for our fire, we know how important tomorrow is now.”
Playing 83-plus minutes of hockey won’t have too much effect on his players for Saturday night’s game, Kings head coach Kent Lewis said. “This probably the fittest group I’ve coached in a long time,” he said. “We’re in good physical shape and I think that showed tonight. In overtime we had a lot of glorious chances and it just didn’t seem like the puck luck was there for us. But this is going to be a hard fought battle every day.”
Evans, who led his team in scoring this season with 78 points, said taking game 1 off the Grizzlies was huge. “Just to come in and get the two points and get the win on the road, that’s always big.”
Despite having a losing record against the second-place Kings this year, the Grizzlies skated well and stuck with Powell River all game. They turned up the heat near the end of the first period when Carmine Buono was sent off for interference, and kept up the pressure to start the second period, but Wilson and the Kings defence were equal to the task.
Meanwhile, Galajda was his usual sharp self in net, coming up big several times, including making a big leg pad save on what looked like a sure goal by future Cornell University teammate Kyle Betts.
Didmon sounded optimistic, despite the loss.
“It was a feel-out game that ended a long time after it should have,” he said. “For us, we’re just going to move forward. We played a good hockey game so we’re happy with that. We didn’t get the win, but we certainly have the opportunity to turn that around tomorrow.”