The Kamloops Blazers overcame an unlucky bounce and a two-goal deficit to vanquish the rival Kelowna Rockets 4-3 in overtime last night.
Preseason or not, the win was a welcome sight for Kamloops fans, as recently, this rivalry had resembled the lopsided struggle between Wile E Coyote and the Roadrunner. Including the exhibition schedule, the Blazers went 0-9-2 against the Rockets last year. Last night's win marked Kamloops’ first victory over Kelowna in any format since March 31, 2017.
Nolan Kneen was the hero, scoring the game-winner over three minutes into overtime off a feed from Zane Franklin. Kneen also added two assists on the night.
Things started off poorly for the Blazers when, after pulling their goalie during a delayed penalty call, the puck took an odd bounce off a Connor Zary shot and went into their own net. Erik Gardner added another goal for Kelowna to give them a 2-0 lead after one period.
Goals by Brodi Stuart and Zary helped Kamloops even things at two, but a powerplay goal by Nolan Foote with 10 seconds left in the period gave the Rockets another lead at the break.
Stuart added another goal in the third period to send the game to overtime. Orrin Centazzo also had two assists on the night while Daylan Kuefler and Luc Smith had one each.
Max Palaga played the entire game in net for the Blazers, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
The two teams will play again tonight at Prospera Place in Kelowna, starting at 7:05 p.m.
They'll also kick off the regular season against each other on Sept. 21 at the Sandman Centre.