An already heated rivalry between the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers saw the temperature rise just a little more on Saturday evening.
The teams met in front of an announced crowd of 4,586 at Prospera Place, in the first Kelowna home game with no mask mandate since the lifting of restrictions province-wide.
Two of the five teams so far to clinch their playoff spot in the WHL’s Western Conference, it was the Blazers that picked up right where they left off, having won the last pair of matchups between the two. They took an early 2-0 lead by the midway point of the opening frame.
Andrew Cristall, however, cut the lead in half at just before the 14:00 mark of the second.
That was by far, the loudest goal we've celebrated since March 2020.
— Kelowna Rockets (@Kelowna_Rockets) March 13, 2022
Kamloops was able to restore its two-goal lead in the third, though a pair of goals from Colton Dach and Adam Kydd within a minute apart tied it at threes with five minutes to go.
Five minutes of overtime solved nothing, with the contest needing a shootout, which turned into a goaltending battle.
Talyn Boyko was stellar between the Kelowna pipes, allowing just three goals in a 12-round marathon, though Kamloops was able to earn the win and the extra point.
The Rockets host the Blazers again this Friday, with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.
Despite the lifting of the mask mandate, vaccine passports are still required for entry for those 12 and over.
The two then meet for the fourth-straight game on Saturday at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.