Kelowna Chiefs players all wore Sheridan jerseys at their home-opener win against the Chase Heat Sept. 20. The Chiefs late owner Grant Sheridan’s family joins in the pre-game memorial to honour Sheridan, who died in July. (Mackenzie Britton - Capital News)

Epic overtime battle, big turnout for memorial night to late owner of Okanagan hockey team

The KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs hounoured Grant Sheridan with a win in the team’s home-opener

The Kelowna Chiefs got an emotional win Friday night.

It was the first home game of the season at the Rutland Arena since the team’s late owner Grant Sheridan died in late July. Sheridan, only 47 years old, was a big supporter of Rutland’s team and the rest of the business community.

The Chiefs earned a 5-4 double overtime win against the Chase Heat, a fitting and joyous end to a game set up in memorial to Sheridan.

“You could really tell it was a celebration of life,” said Alex Draper, Chiefs’ game operations manager and close friend to Sheridan.

“We obviously wanted to win the home-opener, but to win it like that on Grant’s night, you couldn’t even write it like that. With the game, the crowd and the celebration, it was the perfect storm.”

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The night started with introducing the 2019-2020 Chiefs, who were all wearing Sheridan jerseys in memorial to the late owner. In addition to Kelowna’s jerseys, players from the entire Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) will be wearing GS stickers on their helmets throughout the year.

Pastor Don Richmond, alongside the Sheridan family, opened the game with a touching tribute.

“He loved his family, his community, he loved the Kelowna Chiefs, the players, the staff and you fans,” said Richmond.

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In the victory, the Chiefs were led by forward Kayson Gallant, who scored three minutes into the home-opener and was the overtime hero. Gallant finished the night with three goals and one assist.

Myles Mattila and Zane Avery added the other two goals for the Chiefs, while returning netminder Braeden Mitchell made 43 saves.

It was standing room only by the time the puck-dropped Friday night, with nearly 1000 people in attendance. The Chiefs, coming off a record-breaking season last year, start the season 3-0 and look to continue last year’s dominance where they lost only two regulation games.

The Rutland community was out in full force to support Sheridan and the team.

“We may be called the Kelowna Chiefs but make no mistake, this is Rutland’s team,” said Draper.

“Grant and the family are loved by so many different facets of the community. It was an amazing night and we’re all still on cloud nine about it.”

Kelowna continues their season at the Rutland Arena Saturday night.

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