The ‘Why not Us!’ and ‘Never Quit’ 2016-17 Chase Heat drove a long way down the KIJHL playoff highway.
The playoff journey began with the team being the Doug Birks Division regular season champions.
As a result, the Heat enjoyed two home-ice advantage series within the division. The opening seven-game series involved a five-game clash versus the Revelstoke Grizzlies. The home side, being a polite bunch, allowed the Stoke squad a win in the first game in Chase before they put together a four-game win streak.
Series Two saw the Storm from Kamloops treated in the very same manner in a seven-game series that went five games again. Game 1 in Chase saw the Loops Lads head home with a victory. But once again the Heat came back and won four in a row to claim the Doug Birks Division and a trip to the South Okanagan.
Next up in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference final, the Osoyoos Coyotes, who enjoyed home-ice advantage in a five-game series. The Sun Bowl was rocking as 70-plus “Heaters” made the trek for the two-game desert duel. At the end of the pair of one-goal difference contests, the Heat once again started out politely, giving the Yotes two wins.
Game 3 at the Art Holding Memorial Arena saw the ‘Cardiac Kids’ get their act together. With 2.7 seconds left in regulation time, they tied up the game, then won in overtime!
Game 4 went one step better as the ‘Never Quit’ team scored in regulation time with 3/10s of a second left and won in overtime!
The series is tied at two games apiece and the brass ring is up for grabs in a winner-take-all Game 5 in Osoyoos.
One hundred and 50 adrenaline junkies make the trek to boisterously cheer on the Heat, and they make a difference. To a constant drum beat, Chase politely gives up the first goal before pounding three past the opposition keeper to claim the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference Championship!
The ‘Why Not Us!’ team celebrates with the fans, and smells some rare air after six years on ice, and it smells fantastic!
Now the reward for all that is a date with the KIJHL regular season overall champions, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Game 1 in Fruitvale is a lost cause, Game 2 sees a 4-1 first-period lead vanish into the atmosphere from which the Heat don’t recover.
The final game of the year, Game 3 in Chase before a record 519 crazed ‘Chasers’ results in the deserving visitors taking the crown as KIJHL champions.
All in all, 18 games in 35 nights, a hockey marathon, and a season and playoffs that made the community proud. Thank you players, parents, billet parents, sponsors, donors, volunteers and the fantastic fans! The 2017-18 season is just around the corner, a new road to travel with your team – the Chase Heat!