It's been a first round series that has swung WILDLY in both directions, boasting speed, physicality and emotion. There have been close games, there's been a not so close game, and an incredible comeback in Game 5 that will be remembered forever by all involved including the fans that witnessed it. Both teams have had their moments of triumph and their moments of weakness, and after 7 hard fought rounds someone will stand alone tonight as the winner.
Everything that's happened so far in this series has been fun and entertaining, but that's all forgotten now. It all comes down to one game. One game, the 7th in 9 nights for these two teams, will determine who goes through to play the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Okanagan Division Final which starts Monday.
I look back to the start of this KIJHL season when a group of 22 young men came together as individuals (okay, the Yukon line came as a package). Some from our own back yard in Summerland, Penticton, West Kelowna and Kelowna, and others from as far away as Calgary and Whitehorse. All had their own personal goals and things they wanted hockey to help them accomplish, but one thing is for sure: Everybody likes to win. Head Coach John Depourcq and his staff went to work, putting together a game plan and a common goal in hopes that his collection of individuals would by in.
58 Games later, they are a team. A family. A group of young men that would go to battle for one another no matter the circumstance on any given day, and give their very best for the crest on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back. They have a common goal, which is something that the coaching staff has worked hard to achieve with their group since day one, and they're a win away from being one step closer to that goal.
They say the last win is the hardest one to get, and they aren't wrong. The Kelowna Chiefs stand in the way of Summerland taking that next step, and it's going to take 22 guys working together to achieve what they want. But they have it in them. They've shown that over the 52 game regular season and first six games of this playoff series without a shadow of a doubt. That was evident when (without their leading scorer and arguably Regular Season MVP) they staged a comeback in Game 5 from being down 5-1 to leading 6-5 and eventually winning 7-6 in 2OT.
This is a group that can get the job done. They know it, and everyone around them knows it. It's been a season of ups and downs for the guys in white, red, and black, but now's the time to dig deep and finish this thing off.
No matter what happens tonight, neither team should leave the Summerland Arena hanging their head. Both have performed valiantly in the KIJHL's second season, and I have a funny feeling we're in for a wild ride to finish this series and send it out with some flare.
It's an absolute pleasure to cover this team and it's group of personalities, and no matter what happens in Game 7, this isn't end. Go get 'em, Steam.