The Revelstoke Grizzlies are Doug Birks Division champions after defeating the 100 Mile House Wranglers in a close, marathon seven-game series that went to overtime in games five and six.
The Revelstoke Forum was raucous on Wednesday night as a near-capacity crowd packed the rink for a do-or-die game seven. The beer garden was sold out, and the building was packed with noisy fans and an animated cheering section that banged pots and pans and managed to get the wave going around the arena.
The game was a must-win for both teams, who were coming off a marathon triple overtime game the night before in 100 Mile House, then a long bus ride to Revestoke.
The Grizzlies struggled with penalties in the first, forcing netminder Giovanni Sambrielaz to stop 18 shots, while the Grizzlies mustered 8.
Ryan Pereverzoff led off the scoring late in the first on an assist from Ullar Wiatzka and Nii Noi Tetteh, raising the crowds spirits before the break.
The Wranglers’ Garett Hilton tied it up early in the second, but the Grizzlies took the lead again with a goal from David Lenzin.
Jordan Robertson added to the scoresheet with 13:09 to put the Grizzlies up 3-1.
Momentum shifted throughout the game, but increasingly tilted towards the Grizz as the game went on. The Grizzlies took seven penalties to the Wranglers’ four, and were forced to defend shorthanded.
As the clock wound down, the Wranglers pulled goalie Jakob Severson, clearing the way for a backbreaking empty net goal by Tommy Bodtker, for a 4-1 win for the Grizzlies.
In net for the Grizzlies, Giovanni Sambrielaz stopped 42 of 43 shots he faced. The game was a shootout: Wranglers netminder stopped 50 of 54 shots.
The Grizzlies now face the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference Finals. The first game of the series start this Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m. at the Revelstoke Forum.
Note: An earlier version of the story had the Revelstoke/Osoyoos series starting on Friday night. The series has been rescheduled to start Saturday night in Revelstoke.