It’s the time of year where family, friends and complete strangers exchange pleasantries and do many acts of kindness. The Chase HEAT players as a family of young men chasing their dreams, got into the spirit of the season over the past 9 periods during 3 contests of Junior hockey. Perhaps it is timely that their well deserved brief Christmas break provides time with family and friends at home away from “HEAT Hockey”.
They say charity starts at home and our local ice stars were reluctant to get started with that, when they hosted the 100 Mile House WRANGLERS on Tuesday, the 17th of December. A brother versus brother rivalry of epic proportions over the 7 years of the Cariboo crew’s existence, this contest was just another chapter in the ongoing story of battles. Burly blue line beast Caleb Biensch got the party started with his second blast of the season from Trevor Kennedy on the man advantage. Maturing rookie Jayden Russell displayed individual prowess popping in his second counter of the year for a HEAT 2 goal lead. Then Hayden “Hot Hands” Wiebe made it a 3 goal lead from Breckin Erichuk and Colton Nikiforuk. The WRANGLERS got on the board before Weibe got his second of the 1st period unassisted. After 20 minutes it is 4-1 and the temperature in the room is rising.
With a new goalie between the pipes, 100 Mile brings their kind of semblance of order to the meeting. They get their 2nd goal on the powerplay to make things interesting. Hard on the puck Nikiforuk from his friends Erichuk and Wiebe provide the faithful fans with some relief. In the 3rd period the Cariboo crew pop in a 3rd goal, with this one coming to an end, a 5-3 win for the HEAT. Vince Bennedetto stops 26 of 29 to backstop his teammates to victory.
Off to the Houseboat Capital of Canada for a Friday night clash with the Sicamous EAGLES, who roar off to a 2 goal lead. On the man advantage leading scorer Erichuk scores a nifty counter assisted by Cam Watson and Gavin Mattey. It’s 2-1 for Sicamous. In the 2nd hard working Brandon Gremaud makes it even up with help from Kennedy and Mattey. In the 3rd the EAGLES score the go ahead goal and the HEAT aren’t able to get the puck to cross the goal line, this bang and crash bash concludes 3-2 for the eastern Shuswap flyers. Dylan Barton repels 25 of 28 in a losing effort, a rack of twigs with no goals in them, not at all helpful.
A marquee matchup on Saturday the 21st features the Kelowna CHIEFS versus the Chase HEAT. Evenly matched in all departments, powerplay, penalty kill, scoring, goaltending and points. This contest was a track meet from start to finish, fast, skilled and nail biting. The fans were entertained with superb goaltending and a close encounter of the hockey kind. The 1st 20 minutes finished with the foes tied at 0-0. The 2nd saw Kelowna leading scorer Kayson Gallant getting the only goal through 40 minutes. In the 3rd the CHIEFS got a 2nd goal, and the tempo and tension went from 9 on the dial to 10…maybe 11! Local hockey hawk Gavin Mattey plunked the bisquit in the basket from Watson and Jacob Biensch to tighten this tussle at 2-1. All the stops were pulled out and flash, dash and crash amped up, however no change on the scoreboard. Kelowna left Chase with a classic 2-1 win, Benedetto denying 27 of 29 providing his friends with an opportunity for success.
So, three games, nail biters with a healthy seasonal dose of goodwill in retrospect, especially considering it is a sport of chills, thrills and spills.
The HEAT gets turned back up after the break on Tuesday, December 31st at 5:00 pm at the Art Holding Memorial Arena. It’s a New Year’s Eve encounter with our neighbours the Kamloops STORM. Special time (5:00 pm), Special place (Chase Chaos Castle) and Special night (New Year’s Eve). See you there for a tube steak, poutine and either a mocha or frosty wobbly to wash it down!
From all the nuts and bolts in the ice cream bucket, the mud in the stands, the stinky forgotten laundry, broken sticks, bruises and bumps, we wish our staff, players, families, billet parents, volunteers, fans, and Chasians, the very best Merry Christmas and Happy 2020 New Year!