For almost two periods, it looked like exactly what you’d expect from a game between a team battling for first overall and a team in the middle of the standings.
The Nelson Leafs had built up a 4-1 lead over the Revelstoke Grizzlies early in the second period, in part due to some lucky bounces, partly due to some questionable calls. As Nelson defended the lead, they looked just a bit bigger and a bit faster than Revelstoke.
Then, with 93 seconds to go in the second period, Matthew Naka’s stick came up, cutting Darnel St. Pierre’s chin and earning Naka a four-minute double-minor. Ten seconds into the ensuing power play, Dylan Ossman scored for the Grizzlies to make the score 4-2 heading into the third period.
“In between periods, I knew we had 37 seconds left (on the power play), and I said, ‘That’s plenty of time to get another one,’” coach Kevin Kraus said after the game. “They went out there and did that and it put a bit of doubt in Nelson’s head.”
Ossman scored again 31 seconds into the third, whacking home a rebound, to make the score 4-3.
From that point on, it was a back and forth game, with Nelson holding on to the lead until the final 90 seconds.
With the goalie pulled and the faceoff in the offensive zone, Revelstoke’s big line came out – Brayden Beckley, Austin Donaldson and Dylan Ossman, with Tyler Reay as the extra attacker. Beckley won the faceoff, the puck landed on Reay’s stick and the 20-year-old veteran fired a shot that beat Leafs’ goaltender Marcus Beesley.
The first overtime of 4-on-4 solved nothing. In the second overtime, Kraus started with his top line. Nelson had the first chance, but it was broken up by Ossman, standing in as a defenceman. The play went the other way, and Beckley managed to break through the Nelson defence, firing a wrister past Beesley to give Revelstoke a dramatic 5-4 win.
“I don’t think I’ve been that excited on the bench in a while,” said Kraus. “I like winning. Winning – we talked about that before the game. I challenged them to make sure they feel better after tonight’s game. Winning is fun, and you get on a bit of a hot streak because winning is contagious.”
The win salvaged the Grizzlies’ week, which started with last Wednesday with a 4-3 loss to the last-place Chase Heat at home. On Friday, in Armstrong, Revelstoke lost 5-2 to the division-leading North Okanagan Knights.
With the Grizzlies heading into their final three games of the regular season this weekend, the key for the team will be to build on the win. Several times this season the Grizzlies have followed up big wins with disappointing losses.
“Now we look forward to playoffs. I can bring the playoff scenario into the picture. You have three bad games in a row and your season is pretty much done,” said Kraus. “Going into next weekend you preach that the little things need to be done correct, especially in playoffs.”
Revelstoke wraps up the regular season with games at home against the Kamloops Storm on Friday, in Kamloops on Saturday, and back at home against the Penticton Lakers on Sunday. Fans can skate with the Grizzlies after Sunday’s game.
Revelstoke is set to play the Sicamous Eagles in the first round, with the series starting in Sicamous on Friday, Feb. 21.