The 2021-22 season has been a roller coaster of highs and lows for the local Chase Heat. With two regular season games to play before League playoffs commence it appears the team is peaking, fans are freaking and a five game winning streak is the result. Good signs indeed and to continue the success the petal must be to the metal the rest of the way. Three games went into the books this past week and they involved facing the two top teams in the Doug Birks Division who are also two of the top teams in the overall KIJHL. Timely scoring, solid netminding and a lot of attention to detail kept the Heat in all three games.
Game 1 a Tuesday night the 8th encounter at McArthur Sportsplex in Kamloops versus the Storm on the Olympic size ice. Lots of space, speed and skill, not a single tally found the mark in the first twenty minutes. In the 2nd the Storm struck first and built a small incline for the Heat to climb. Lucas “Oh” Ouellette popped in his 13 of the season unassisted and after forty it’s 1-1. In the 3rd period Trevor Kennedy from Jacob Biensch and Jarod Sigouin notched the go ahead goal. Before regulation time expired Kamloops equalled things up and it’s time for overtime. A minute and 14 seconds in, Mikkel Hrechka fired the winner for a 3-2 overtime 2 points. So many to recognize for their efforts, Jack Osmond denied 26 of 28 to ensure his team stayed in this one, Hrechka with the winner and Diego Flota who the Kamloops webcrew thought was the cream of the crop.
Game 2 and the Heat head to the Revelstoke Forum to face the Grizzlies and several hundred fanatic Aussie ski bums on Friday the 11th. Kennedy starts the scoring on the man advantage with his consistent goal a game pace, with help from Dylan Handel and Sigouin. Team leading scorer Biensch adds a second on the powerplay from Kennedy and Handel, after 1 it’s 2-0. Tyson Mallet from Owen Dean and Osmond scores in the 2nd period to add to the lead. Before this stanza ends the Grizzlies score creating a nail biting finish. In the 3rd hand eye marksman Handel pops his 17th of the season from Sigouin and Hrechka with this contest in the books a 4-1 road win for the Heat. Osmond shines again stopping 46 of 47 Revelstoke attempts, Sigouin continues to assist on approximately every other goal scored, Handel ends with a goal and assist with Kennedy continuing his consistency.
Game 3 and finally back at the Art Holding Memorial Arena playing in front of a large loyal fan base the Heat face the Storm for the 2nd time in the week. The carrot a win and the season series ends 4 and 4, with these two teams preparing to face each other in the first 7 game playoff round. The Heat come out on fire and Ouelette once again pops in the game opener with aid from Sigouin and Handel. Kamloops gets one against the flow and it’s tied. Too much enthusiasm during a man advantage and everyone in the offensive end finds Kamloops scoring two goals on the same penalty kill. Two breakaways and Roderic “May Day” May was left alone and at the mercy of two sharpshooters. In the between period break someone definitely said something inspirational as the Heat came out with firecrackers in their pants. Hrechka from Ouellette and Sigouin got Chase to within a goal. Then the team’s youth duo got involved, Matteo Bordin got his 1st of the year from Handel and Ouellette. Later, Garrett Martin unassisted tweaked the twine with his 6th of the year. Penalty leader Brayden Haskell scored to end the 2nd from Biensch and Bryan Fraser, it’s 5-3. In the 3rd Kennedy from Biensch and Haskell scores the 5th unanswered goal on an empty net for the Heat. Shortly after Kamloops gets one, the Heat hold on for a hard earned, scintillating thriller 6-4. The loud and proud fans deserve recognition for their game long encouragement of their team. May kept the team in this one with some high light reel saves, Ouelette enjoyed a solid week’s work as did Sigouin and the youngsters showed that the entire team played a role in the united success, all accomplished at the right time.
Next game of the regular season is a meeting at the local Chaos Castle on Friday the 18th versus the North Okanagan Knights. Saturday the 19th the regular season concludes with a bucking bronco battle with the 100 Mile House Wranglers in Chase. The first round of the playoffs starts Tuesday the 22nd at McArthur Island versus the Kamloops Storm, game 2 same place on Wednesday the 23rd. The series then moves to Chase for games 3 and 4, Friday the 25th and Saturday the 26th. It’s the playoffs and the heat will be turned up. Best to bring a cushion for those bum bouncing plastic buckets we call seats, you will be glad you did while enjoying hot Heat action on cold ice!