Perhaps someone ought to tell the Kamloops Storm, North Okanagan Knights and some of their fans that it's barely the second week of the KIJHL regular season.
Blake Culbert scored 16 seconds into double overtime as the Storm defeated North Okanagan 4-3 at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre. The teams will play a rematch in Armstrong tonight.
Considering it was the Storm's second game of the season and the Knights' third, Friday's contest was a barnburner.
The Knights went ahead 2-0 after a period, only to have Kamloops tie it in the second. North Okanagan went ahead 3-2, before the Storm forced overtime with 1:01 remaining.
"Huge character-builder, and it was like playoff hockey," said Storm head coach Brad Priestlay. "It's good to see playoff hockey already, in the second game of the season."
The crowd was loving it, and really got into things in the third period. A handful of rowdy Storm fans spent the game in the row directly behind the Knights' bench, and engaged in what appeared to be a riveting conversation with head coach Kris Mallette.
"We played these guys in the playoffs last year, and it was the same thing," said Culbert, who ended the game with two goals and an assist, of the intensity. "It's always hard games against these guys, and it's a good feeling to come out on top."
As exciting as it was at game's end, the Storm looked a little disinterested in the first period, and North Okanagan took advantage. Mat Lambert snuck in behind the defence and opened the scoring for the Knights, before Morgan Johnston found himself alone in front and made it 2-0 only 14 minutes into the game.
Priestlay, whose team hadn't played since beating the visiting Spokane Braves 8-3 a week earlier, had no trouble finding the reason for the poor effort early.
"Playing one game last week and then having a week off, it's a little tough," he said. "But our guys responded well in the second and third periods and especially overtime."
Culbert got the Storm on the board 55 seconds into the second period, before Stefan Wood tied it with 5:16 to go in the second period, a tie that lasted about five minutes before Harlen Orr scored late in the period.
After a few close calls both ways, the Storm finally was able to tie the game on a power-play late. Culbert won a faceoff back to Daniel Buchanan, who put the puck on net. Dustin Nikkel made the save, but the puck went right to Taylor Ward, who shoved it in.
Five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime were fruitless, before Culbert and Ian Chrystal got in on the forecheck in double-overtime.
As Culbert describes it: "Chrystal made a good play on the wall . . . the puck somehow came up in the air, and I grabbed it. The goalie was cheating, so I waited him out and put it in the net."
JUST NOTES: The Storm is 2-0, while North Okanagan is 1-1-1. . . . Kamloops was 1-for-7 on the power play, while North Okanagan didn't score on any of its five power-play chances.
The Chase Heat lost for the first time of the season, 5-2 to the visiting Revelstoke Grizzlies.
Dylan Ossman, Braden Seyl, Austin Donaldson, Spencer Samuel and Darnel St. Pierre scored for Revelstoke. Catlin McLeod and Aiden Silzer-Hooker responded for Chase.
The Heat is in Sicamous to play the Eagles on Sunday.