It was an unbelievable display of endurance last night in Victoria, as the Royals and Everett Silvertips duked it out for eight periods in game six of their first-round series.
When Everett’s Cal Babych scored a breakaway goal at the night’s 151:36 mark to send his team to the next round, the teams set a new record for the longest WHL and CHL game of all time.
The previous WHL record holders were the Kamloops Blazers and Kootenay Ice, who went for 136:56 just over 14 years ago in a game held at Western Financial Place — then known as the Recplex.
In Kootenay’s case, it was a game three situation that was ended by captain Colin Sinclair in fourth overtime.
Sinclair’s tally was a rebound off Ice legend Nigel Dawes’ wraparound shot, who after the game admitted to the Cranbrook Townsman that the goal was less exciting than it was relieving.
“It was just a relief, I was ready to go to bed,” Dawes said just minutes after contributing to what was then the longest game in league history.
Unlike Dawes and Sinclair, Babych was an unlikely hero to finish the marathon in Victoria. The 20-year-old winger was a late addition to the Silvertips after spending the majority of the year with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.
In 164 career regular season WHL games, Babych only has 17 goals and the game-winner was only his second ever WHL playoff tally. The first one had come when he opened the game’s scoring at 6:31 in the second period, about 125 minutes before his history setting quintuple OT goal.
Although the Ice and Cranbrook have been replaced in the record book, the team does not appear to be harbouring any ill-feelings towards the new champions of never-ending WHL hockey.
At 8:04 last night, the official Kootenay Ice twitter page tweeted “congratulations to the [Everett Silvertips] and [Victoria Royals] on completing the longest game in WHL and CHL history (and breaking our record)!”
The previous CHL record had been set on March 19, 1999, in Hull when the Olympiques and Victoriaville Tigers went 146:31 in the QMJHL playoffs.
With the victory, the Silvertips — who missed the last Ferry home and were forced to spend another night in Victoria — will face the Seattle Thunderbirds in round two beginning on Friday in Everett.
After their game three victory over the Blazers in 2003, the Ice won the series in six games before being subsequently defeated by the Thunderbirds in five.
NOTES: In other Kootenay Ice related WHL playoff news, the Lethbridge Hurricanes were able to stave off elimination at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels thanks to a game-winning goal by Zak Zborosky.
Zborosky, last season’s Ice team MVP, who played half of this season as Kootenay’s leading scorer, was named the first star in game five of the ‘Canes-Rebels series after picking up a goal and an assist in a situation where his team was facing elimination.
The series is now headed to a game seven on Tuesday night in Lethbridge. Zborosky has six points in six playoff games and Matt Alfaro has three, also in six games.