The past weekend featured a home-and-away two-game series versus the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
Friday night the 26th of January saw the Heat lineup against their opposition at the Art Holding Memorial Arena.
It turned into a hard-working, gritty game between two talented and fast-skating squads.
There were no pucks to be found in the nets during the first period. In the second, six goals provided a see-saw battle, starting with Zachary Fournier on the power play from Michael Fidanza and Kolten Moore. The Wranglers came right back, making it a 1-1 tie. Then the Heat popped in a pair, Fidanza from Jackson Marshall and Kaden Black, and then Fournier with his second from Seamus Collins and Jayce Schweizer.
100 Mile got a tally prior to Collins’ from Darion Nordick and Ryan Okino, making it 4-2 after 20. In the third, Evan Hughes added to the lead from Colten Nikiforuk and Brett Alexander. Thirty-five seconds later, 100 Mile came on strong to attempt a comeback. Nikiforuk ruined that bid by netting goal number 6 from Fournier and Quinn Slezak for a 6-3 home-ice victory.
Conor Webb stopped 37 of 40, some of them of the spectacular variety. It quite possibly was the best overall full-team performance of the season.
On Saturday night, after pushing snow from Chase to 100 Mile, the bus arrived in the Cariboo. At the outset no one expected a goalfest but that’s what happened.
Six goals in the first resulted in a 3-3 tie, Fidanza getting off to the races from Grady Musgrave and Fournier.
The Cariboo Cowboys netted a pair to take the lead, but the Shuswap squad came back, Black on the man advantage from Nikiforuk and Fournier, followed by Okino from Moore and Collins. With 16 seconds left in the first, 100 Mile tied the match up.
In the second, the teams only managed seven, yes, seven goals to find the bullseye. Wranglers got one and Chase got two, Black again from Nordick and Pat Brady, and then big Fournier unassisted.
But 100 Mile responded with a pair to retake the lead. Black made it a hat trick with his third from Fidanza and Nikiforuk to make it a 6-6 tie. But the desperadoes tallied again; after 40 it was 7-6 Cariboo.
In the third, the tuckered troops only managed five goals in their frenzy to 10. 100 Mile got a power-play counter prior to Chase doing the same, Fidanza from Brady and Black. Then the Wranglers took a 9-7 lead. But a reappearance of the Cardiac Kids from Chase reared its pretty face.
With 2:44 left, veteran Fournier from Fidanza made it a one-goal game. With 21 seconds left and the goalie pulled, Nikiforuk banged in the 9-9 tying goal from Musgrave and Fidanza.
The air was sucked out of the arena by the local fans who sat stunned in their seats, as they had watched a two-goal advantage swept out the door. To overtime the teams went, the first five-minute four-on-four frame solved absolutely nothing.
So, after a brief interlude, the second three-on-three overtime commenced. Thirty-seven seconds in, Moore did the heroics unassisted in an end-to-end wrap around the goal to provide a 10-9 overtime win for the Heat.
A nice four-point weekend, against foes attempting to overtake the Heat for second spot in the standings.
Chase now enjoys a nine-point cushion just weeks away from the end of the regular season.
Next up is a Wednesday the 31st meeting in Kamloops versus the Storm, followed by two road games against the Grizzlies in Revelstoke. Next home date is Saturday, Feb. 10 versus the Eagles from Sicamous.
The Annual Awards Banquet is Sunday, Feb. 11 at the ALIB Gymnasium and Conference Centre at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be bought at the games or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.