Terrace River Kings earned a 6-5 double-overtime win against the Smithers Steelheads here in Terrace yesterday.
It was an intense, up and down game, with strict referees and strong hockey on both sides.
“That is the wildest games I have ever been a part of,” said River Kings captain Steve Cullis.
“Ups and downs, the flow kept changing: they had momentum, we had momentum, it was absolutely wild,” he said.
The River Kings earned their first goal right off the faceoff, with Steve Cullis sliding one past the Steelhead goalie just ten seconds in.
Only three minutes later the Steelheads took a hooking penalty, and River Kings capitalized.
Luke Gordon shot a pass from the bottom right corner across the front of the net to Chapen Leblond, who fired it in from the left side.
The River Kings took a 2-0 lead.
Both teams played back and forth, until halfway through the period Derrick Jurista got the puck and came up through the centre with Dawson Leblond. Jurista sliced the puck across to Leblond in front of the net and Leblond slammed it in.
That earned the River Kings a 3-0 lead.
But Steelheads were not giving up, and both teams kept up with strong back-and-forth hockey, and a few penalties on both sides.
As the first period wound down into the last five minutes, River Kings took a boarding penalty.
A minute later Steelhead Calvin Johnson took the puck up the centre, carving back and forth, and then fired a shot past River Kings goalie Patrick Leal.
Three minutes later, Steelhead Mark Arnold got the puck in the bottom right corner and wound in front of the net, sliding the puck into the net to end the first period at 3-2 for the Kings.
The second period was a mess, with the teams, especially River Kings, racking up penalties.
Steelheads played nearly the whole period on power play and dominated the ice.
Four minutes in, River King Corey Dekelver took a game misconduct for hitting a player from behind and was kicked off the ice.
Steelhead Johnson managed to land one in the net on the power play to tie up the game at 3-3.
Three minutes later, River King Chapen Leblond took a charging penalty and game misconduct for injuring a player.
A minute after Leblond was kicked off the ice, Steelhead Ian Smith landed a shot to earn the Steelheads a 4-3 lead.
The aggressive and rough period continued, until halfway through the refs made a shocking call, kicking out River King goalie Leal on a game misconduct for mouthing off.
That put back up goalie Devon Ames on the ice, who put out a strong performance the Kings, though he missed a power play shot from Steelhead Adam Devries while he was still finding his footing.
The game, which started on a strong 3-0 lead for the Kings, suddenly had the team down 5-3.
The teams really stepped up their game, as they cleaned up their play to avoid penalties.
River King Ben Reinbolt sniped one in from the left side with six minutes left in the second, bringing the score to 5-4 for Steelheads.
Then, with only two minutes left in the period, Steelheads took a holding penalty.
As the clock wound down into the last thirty seconds, Reinbolt got the puck just past centre on the left, firing a pass to Colten Braid just left of the net, who redirected it into the back of the net in a beautiful game-tying goal.
The second period ended 5-5, leading into a strong third period where both teams held their own.
River Kings goalie Ames made several big saves to keep the teams at a tie, as both teams battled strong, clean hockey.
The third period ended 5-5 with no goals scored, and teams went into a ten minute overtime.
Though they fought hard, the tie held, and teams entered into a second overtime for 20 minutes.
Finally, after an intense, back and forth, 13 minutes, River King Kenny Nordstrom got the puck in front of the net.
He fired it at the net but it deflected off the goalie pads. Nordstrom managed to grab the rebound and slammed it into the net, earning the Kings a 6-5 win.
This game was the first in round two of playoffs, where Steelheads and River Kings are facing off in a best-of-three game series for the shot in the final.
The next games will be played in Smithers Saturday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. and, if needed Sunday, Feb. 21.
The winner of this series will advance to play the top eastern team in the CIHL final, and then the Coy Cup March 22-26.