The Beaver Valley Nitehawks had to score twice in double overtime to earn a victory over the Kimberley Dynamiters Sunday night in Game 4 of the Kootenay Conference final.
Despite the challenge, the Nitehawks were up to the task.
With the score knotted 3-3 and approximately 13 minutes remaining in double-overtime, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks thought they had won the game after a long point shot sailed over the shoulder of a partially-screened Tyson Brouwer.
The Nitehawks bench erupted and began spilling on to the ice.
But play carried on after the goal was washed away by the nearest official.
At the next stoppage, all four officials congregated at centre ice before upholding the call.
The only problem was the puck had crossed the line before ricocheting off the back bar and out of the net. The Nitehawks weren’t mistaken in their celebration, but that didn’t matter as overtime continued.
“Had we lost that game tonight, I wouldn’t feel very good,” said Nitehawks head coach and general manager Terry Jones. “But let’s just say that the right thing happened. We got the ‘W’ and now it’s a series. We feel good about what we’ve done in the four games and finally got the result we were looking for.”
After the apparent non-goal came to pass, the two teams exchanged opportunities before Mitch Foyle snapped a power-play goal past Brouwer to give his team the 4-3 double-overtime victory and extend the series to a fifth game back in Fruitvale Tuesday night.
“Great to see Mitch Foyle get that goal,” Jones said. “Man, oh, man did he work his butt off tonight.
“We’re alive. We’re absolutely alive. It’s a huge win. To fight through the adversity of the series — we’ve fought through so many little battles. Losing Andy Miller [to injury] and Jake Boyczuk to suspension. Losing [Ross] Armour [Saturday] night for most of the game. We scored two in overtime [Sunday] — you name it — we’ve really battled.
“I really gave my guys a lot of credit [Sunday] for their effort. It paid off and we live another day.”
New life didn’t come easy for the Nitehawks as the Dynamiters were intent on ending the best-of-seven series with a four-game sweep on home ice.
“I thought overall it was a great effort,” said Kimberley Dynamiters head coach Jerry Bancks. “We battled hard, didn’t get a lot of breaks, but I like our resiliency. We get down, we battle back.
“That’s a good team. To beat them four straight, as close as everything has been, is probably expecting a little too much.”
A slow start for the hosts saw the Nitehawks jump out to an early 1-0 lead as Spencer McLean opened the scoring 1:28 into the first period.
Only 1:17 later, Braden Saretsky continued his torrid scoring pace by sliding one past Nitehawks goaltender Carson Schamerhorn to tie the game 1-1.
Sam Swanson restored the Nitehawks lead at the midpoint of the first.
With time winding down in the second period, Dynamiters defenceman Justin Meier sent a long, seeing-eye point shot towards the Nitehawks net and it somehow found a way through a mass of humanity to tie the game 2-2.
The Dynamiters had battled back.
Foyle put his team ahead 1:12 into the third period, but once again the Dynamiters found a way to claw back into it as Keenan Haase banged home a rebound to tie the game 3-3 and bring 978 fans to their feet at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
The first overtime period came to pass without a goal and double overtime proved controversial before Foyle finally ended it with 2:15 remaining.
Brouwer stood tall between the pipes once again, turning aside 38 of 42 shots in only his second loss of the post-season.
At the other end, Schamerhorn returned to the crease for Game 4 after giving way to Drake Poirier for Game 3.
The 17-year-old Kelowna native did what he needed to in stopping 34 of 37 shots.
The Nitehawks and Dynamiters will use Monday as their final day of rest in the series before getting back at it Tuesday night for Game 5 in Fruitvale.
“We’ve got to play 60 minutes at home,” Jones said. “I think we played way better [in Kimberley] than we did at home. Now, we’ve got a little momentum, we’ve got a little belief. We needed to get that wind under our sails and now, I don’t think we change our game.
“We just make sure we get pucks deep and play in the offensive zone. That’s our game. When we forecheck that way, we’re hard to beat. When we break down defensively in our zone, that’s when we’re easy to beat. We’ve got to shore that defensive-zone stuff up and I thought we did a real good job of that [in Game 4].”
The Dynamiters head to Fruitvale with a second opportunity to eliminate the defending KIJHL-champion Nitehawks, leading the best-of-seven series 3-1.
“If you had told me at the start of the series that we’d be up 3-1 after four [games], I’d have taken it in a heartbeat,” Bancks said.
“Just get ready to go. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.”
If necessary, Game 6 is scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Kimberley Civic Centre. Shoulder Game 7 be required, it goes back in Fruitvale Thursday night.