It was an emotional third period for Rebels fans during the team’s first playoff bout against the Nelson Leafs on Thursday night, even before an extra game of overtime was played.
Goalie Chandler Billinghurst was pulled for an extra atacker in the final minute of play with the Rebels down 2-1. With less than a minute left it looked like the game belonged to the Leafs, but with 12.6 seconds on the clock and the Rebels on a power play, Kyle Bergh scored the game-tying goal that sent the Rebels into overtime.
Four periods of overtime — that ultimately ended in a 3-2 victory for the Leafs.
The game started off well enough for the Rebels. Though they received a number of icing calls, Logan Styler scored the first goal of the game in the second half of the period, and the first ended scoreless for Nelson.
But the Rebels started to get a little frustrated in the second as, despite their best efforts, they failed to score on Leafs goalie Devin Allen and the Leafs counted one goal.
Then in the third, Rebels defenceman Dallas Goodwin received a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute penalty for head contact. Goodwin was out of the game for the 10 minutes while another player served the penalty, and the Leafs took advantage of the power play opportunity to take the lead, which led to the tense second half of the third for Rebels fans.
The two teams then battled through the better part of four overtime periods, until just before the final eight minutes, when Goodwin received a game misconduct and a two-minute penalty for checking from behind. The Leafs took advantage of the power play and ended the game.
Because he received the game misconduct in the final minutes of the game, Goodwin will be suspended from the next game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Castlegar.
Though Thursday night’s game wasn’t the longest in the KIJHL history — that honour still belongs to the Revelstoke Grizzlies and Kamloops Storm, who played 135 minutes and six seconds in five overtime periods on Mar. 17, 2008 — it did last for 123 minutes and 32 seconds.
Despite his team’s loss, head coach and general manager Bill Rotheisler was still proud of the way his team played.
“Our boys played well. They did everything they needed to do to win,” he said. “They should be proud. We stuck with it. We out-chanced and outplayed them, and unfortunately if things had gone a bit differently, or as they should, … for the parts of this game that we don’t control, then the better team would have won.”
In particular, Rotheisler was upset that the Leafs weren’t penalized for having too many men on the ice during one of the overtime periods.
“The refs forget that these are kids and they care and they’re working hard and when there’s a series in their zone and Nelson has seven guys on the ice, I mean I know we’re good, but it’s tough to compete against that,” Rotheisler said.
He stopped short of blaming the team’s loss on the referees, but asked about the negative reaction fans had to the calls on the ice and how he’d felt about it, he replied, “We don’t like to blame the officials, but we have a smart group of fans that know the game of hockey really well.”
Headed into game two against Nelson, Rotheisler said the Rebels just need to keep playing well.
“We need to play the same. In order to win we need to be the better team, and we were the better team,” Rotheisler said.