The UBC Okanagan Heat waited until the last possible moment to make it official.
Needing a win to make the Canada West men’s playoffs, freshman Wyatt Gilbert scored in the 91st minute of play Saturday to send the Heat to a 3-2 victory over the hometown Victoria Vikes.
“We have kind of made a habit of it this year, we’ve won a few games late and it’s a testament to our players, their commitment, and their desire to keep on fighting,” said Heat head coach Dante Zanatta, whose team will head to Edmonton for the playoffs this coming weekend.
Luke Warkentin and Nikhil Reddy scored the other Heat goals, both were immediate answers to short-lived Victoria leads.
On the all-important game winner, Reddy Reddy controlled a loose ball before playing a perfect pass across the face of the Vikes goal to the waiting Gilbert, who blasted the ball into the top corner.
“We got a bit lucky, but sometimes karma works for you,” said Zanatta. “B.C. is so tough, UVic is normally a power in the conference and we were fortunate for sure.”
The Heat finished the regular season with a 6-8-2 record, good for fourth spot in the Pacific Division.
UBCO will travel to Edmonton Saturday for the first round of the Canada West playoffs.
The quarterfinal, a win-or-go-home match, will be against the top seed from the Prairie Division, the Alberta Golden Bears (13-1-2).
Heat women vs Spartans…
The UBC Okanagan women will be in Langley this Saturday for the first round of the Canada West playoffs.
At 4 p.m., the Heat will take on the Trinity Western Spartans at Chase Office Field.
In the only meeting of the regular season between the Pacific Division opponents, the first-place Spartans (11-0-3) defeated the Heat 3-0.
UBCO closed out its 2016 regular season at home Sunday with a 1-0 loss to the Regina Cougars.
The match at Nonis Field marked the final home game for two UBC Okanagan players.
Graduating players Devon Fleming and Katie Smillie were both recognized in a special ceremony prior to the game.
The Heat finished the regular season with a record of 4-9-1.