The weekend of December 6th – 8th included a myriad of top rate events at the 25th Annual Chase Country Christmas Celebration. For ardent hockey fans the game on Saturday night at the Art Holding Memorial Arena was one for the ages.
The top team in Junior B hockey in the Province paid a visit to our Chaos Castle after a 4 year absence. The Kimberley DYNAMITERS sailing on top of the KIJHL standings were on an 11 game winning run and were close to unstoppable. To let the “cat out of the bag”, the Chase HEAT on a 5 game win streak, stopped the “Kaboom Boys”in their tracks. The action on the ice was the best the local fans have seen in years and not a single sole in the joint wished for this contest to end.
At the opening faceoff the puck dropped and both teams went from 0 to 60 and the brakes weren’t tapped once! Rookie Jacob Biensch with his parents in attendance from Saskatchewan, placed the bisquit in the basket on a beauty pass from HEAT leading scorer Breckin Erichuk. Heart rates in old guys were bouncing off the charts and the arena defibrillator was put on standby. Fan noise started to drown out the ten on the dial rock music. In the 2nd stanza the visitors scored, but the noise didn’t stop. Evan Hughes who is known to put the team on his back did just that, scoring a spectacular unassisted shorthanded goal, the score 2-1 Chase. With 20 minutes to go in regulation time, veteran Colton Nikiforuk scored 55 seconds in from Hughes, it’s now 3-1, and the fans are seeing sugar plums dancing in their heads. Uncertainty is the next emotion as Kimberley pops in a counter on the man advantage. However, on the powerplay the too hot to touch Hayden Wiebe scores from Trevor Kennedy and Caleb Biensch. Kimberley makes it very interesting by scoring with just under 4 minutes left, but the local hot product held on for a well earned 4-3 win. The defibrillator is put away and the fans wish for more hockey like what they just witnessed. While the beast of burden Evan Hughes was the star, this was a complete team effort including Vince Bennedetto stopping 36 of 39 dynamite shots with a little help from all his friends.
A Sunday afternoon KIJHL game in Sicamous versus the EAGLES was the next task facing the revved up Chase skaters. In the 1st period Breckin Erichuk scored a beauty with assistance from Gavin Mattey. In the 2nd Erichuk scored a nicer goal for his second counter aided by Kennedy and Corson Nordick. In the 3rd Sicamous scored late, but Nikiforuk hit the gas pedal and got that one back from Brandon Gremaud and Hughes. With 5 seconds left Nikiforuk put icing on the win with an empty net goal from Wiebe and Caleb Biensch. A nice 4-1 division win with Erichuk and Nikiforuk doing the scoring and Dylan Barton coming a whisker away from a shutout, stopping 26 of 27 shots he faced.
The HEAT remain in 2nd spot in the Doug Birks Division, 3 points back of the Revelstoke GRIZZLIES. Overall in the 20 team KIJHL they are in 4th spot behind the DYNAMITERS, GRIZZLIES and Kelowna CHIEFS. Their winning streak now is at 7 games.
Next weekend they hit the highway and play in Osoyoos and Princeton. Tuesday night the 17th they host the 100 Mile House WRANGLERS at AHMA. Just prior to their Christmas break they welcome the Kelowna CHIEFS on Saturday the 21st. That one is guaranteed to be one to take the kids to as a special gift prior to Christmas. Don’t miss any of “YOUR” team’s upcoming games, they are a tremendous cure for anything ailing you!
Heat Beat: A couple of very fine young men were released from the roster in the past week. Garrick Ward from Moose Jaw Saskatchewan headed home after struggling through injuries and finding his A game. Xander Denis from Kamloops was released to make room on the roster for an 8th defenceman. Arriving this week is Danton L’Heureux from Meadow Lake Saskatchewan. As a young defenceman he was let go for veteran returnees, by the Junior A Red Lake MINERS in Northern Ontario. His presence will assist the team’s solid back end.
If you wear an ugly Christmas sweater to the WRANGLER’S night you will receive a free ticket to the next game… your chance to be a fashion statement and win!