The Osoyoos Coyotes pulled off a 4-3 win over Kelowna Monday night before a home crowd to take a 3-2 lead in the Okanagan Division finals.
The outcome of a sixth game Tuesday night in Kelowna was not known when the Osoyoos Times went to press. Updated results appear at OsoyoosTimes.com.
Mondays win followed two disappointing games in Kelowna on Friday and Saturday that the Coyotes lost 5-4 and 6-2 respectively.
Mondays game looked for a while like it might go the same way when the Kelowna Chiefs scored two goals in the second half of the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
But just 21 seconds after Kelownas Brett Witala scored on a power play, Hunter Johnson fired a shot past goalie Joseph McLeod to put the Coyotes back in the game. Sam Reinbolt assisted.
There were some tense moments early in the second period. The Chiefs were playing shorthanded when Tyler Love broke loose and skated down to face Coyote goalie Daniel Paul alone. Love missed the net, but Paul took a tripping penalty in the incident.
Late in the second period Coyote Jack McNamara took a high sticking penalty. The Chiefs didnt notice when McNamara skated out of the penalty box, took a pass and skated in on a breakaway to score. Austin Cleaver assisted.
But the energized Coyotes werent content with a tied game. Less than a minute later Connor Onstein added another goal to put the Coyotes ahead 3-2.
The Coyotes have a history of letting in goals fractions of a second before the buzzer and this game was no exception. With just 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock at the end of the second period, Myles Mattila scored his second goal of the game for Kelowna to tie the game again.
The two teams remained tied for most of a tense third period, the only one where the Chiefs outshot the Coyotes.
Then, with 2:40 remaining in the period, Onstein scored his second goal of the game to give the Coyotes a 4-3 lead. Reinbolt and McNamara assisted.
As the clock ran down, the Chiefs pulled goalie McLeod for an extra attacker. Then, with just 16 seconds left in the third period, Barrett took a slashing penalty.
So far neither team has managed to win on the road in this series, but if the Coyotes win Tuesday in Kelowna, they can end the series early.
If they lose, the two teams will be back in Osoyoos Wednesday for a seventh and deciding game.
In the other Okanagan/Shuswap series, Revelstoke beat 100 Mile House 5-4 Monday to take a 3-2 lead in that series. The winner of that series will play the winner of the Osoyoos-Kelowna series.
In the Kootenay Conference, Kimberley eliminated Columbia Valley with a 5-2 win and Nelson also eliminated Castlegar with a 5-2 win.
Hunter Johnson (left) fired the puck past Kelowna goalie Joseph McLeod to put the Coyotes back in the game. (Richard McGuire photo)
In one of the tensest moments of the game, Tyler Love got a breakaway while the Chiefs were shorthanded early in the second period. He missed the net and fell over Coyote goalie Daniel Paul’s stick as Jackson Barrett catches up. Paul got a tripping penalty. (Richard McGuire photo)
Less than a minute after Jack McNamara tied the game, Connor Onstein (left) scored to put the Coyotes ahead 3-2. Onstein later added a second and winning goal. (Richard McGuire photo)
With their season the line, the Kelowna Chiefs return to the Rutland Arena on Tuesday for the sixth game of their Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League playoff series with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
A 4-3 win by the Coyotes at the Sun Bowl in Osoyoos tonight lifted the hosts to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Okanagan Division series and gave them the opportunity to wrap it up at the Rutland Arena beginning at 7 p.m.
Connor Onstein’s second goal of the night with 2:40 remaining in the third period earned the Coyotes their third straight win on home ice after losing games (5-4 and 6-2) in Kelowna on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Myles Mattila, with only his second multi-goal game of the season, led the Chiefs offensively, scoring the opening goal at 12:20 of the first period and batting the puck out of the air for his second marker on a powerplay with one second left in the middle period.
Brett Witala, coming off a five-point night on Saturday after sitting out a two-game suspension, made it 2-0 with 3:38 left in the first period and before Hunter Johnson scored for the Coyotes 21 seconds later to close the gap to one goal.
Osoyoos, outshooting the Chiefs 40-30, including an 18-10 margin in the second period, scored 43 seconds apart (Jack McNamara and Onstein) early in the middle frame to take its first lead before Mattila tied things up in the dying seconds.
While the Chiefs were good on two of eight powerplay attempts, they killed off all of their eight penalties.
Joseph McLeod suffered the loss in the Kelowna net while Daniel Paul earned his third win of the series in the Coyotes’ goal.
Should the Chiefs, who finished in second place in the regular season, nine points behind the Coyotes, avert elimination on Tuesday in Kelowna, a seventh game would be played back in Osoyoos on Wednesday.
The winner of the series will advance to the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference against the winner of the Doug Birks Division — either the Revelstoke Grizzlies or the 100-Mile House Wranglers.
The Okanagan/Shuswap Conference winner will meet the Kootenay Conference champion for the KIJHL title. The Kimberley Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs will play in that best-of-seven conference final.
The KIJHL champion will advance to the Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament in Richmond April 12-15 to decide the B.C. junior B champion.