Instead of a second-round date with the Princeton Posse, the North Okanagan Knights will prepare for a return trip to Osoyoos.
Just 82 seconds away from advancing to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Bill Ohlhausen Divisional Final, and with a two-goal lead, the Knights watched the Osoyoos Coyotes score twice in the final 1:22, then saw Reece MacLean score the game-winner 89 seconds after the ice clean for a 7-6, Game 4 overtime victory, stunning the Knights and the near-capacity crowd of 330 at Armstrong’s Nor-Val Sports Centre Wednesday, Feb. 22.
North Okanagan leads the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 is Friday, Feb. 24, in Osoyoos. Game 6, if necessary, would be in Armstrong Saturday, Feb. 25.
MacLean tapped in a puck sitting loose in the goal crease past Knights goalie Austin Seibel to cap the Coyotes’ remarkable rally. Osoyoos Game Star Coletyn Boyarski’s fourth goal of the game at 18:38, just as a penalty to North Okanagan’s Devin Jameson expired, and with Coyotes goalie Kenny Gerow on the bench for an extra attacker, started the Coyotes comeback.
Defenceman Payton McDonald-Corea forced overtime when his wrist shot from the left blueline found its way into the top corner past a shocked Seibel at 19:19.
It was atonement for McDonald-Corea, who was victimized by Knights Game Star Matthew Johnston for what appeared to be the series-clinching goal at 15:00, giving North Okanagan a 6-4 lead. Johnston danced around McDonald-Corea, then made a nifty deke on Gerow for the highlight-reel goal.
Jameson snapped a 4-4 tie after 40 minutes with a wrist shot over Gerow’s glove at 11:09 for the Knights. The Coyotes mildly argued goaltender interference on the play to no avail.
With their season on the edge of extinction, the Coyotes got off to a great start, jumping out to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Boyarski, at 1:15, and Joe Davidson at 7:53.
But markers from Liam Gayfer, Kevin-Thomas Walters and Jameson four minutes apart gave the Knights a 3-2 lead. Boyarski tied the contest at 18:56.
Gayfer put the Knights up 4-3 at 10:19 of the middle frame. Boyarski tied it at 15:50 with his hat trick goal, which resulted in a pair of baseball hats being thrown on the ice by a couple of Coyotes fans in the stands.
The loss snapped a four-game Knights’ winning streak, including the regular season. North Okanagan had won nine of its last 10 games before Wednesday. Seibel finished with 38 saves while Gerow made 25 stops for the Coyotes.
The President’s Cup-winning Posse completed a four-game sweep of Summerland with a 4-1 win over the hometown Steam Wednesday night.
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KIJHLNorth Okanagan Regional DistrictOsoyoos