It was another ‘home’ game of sorts for the Williams Lake Stampeders, who packed up their gear and headed to Quesnel to host the Smithers Steeleheads in game one of the Central Interior Hockey League Final.
There the Stampeders, playing in front of 275 fans in Quesnel after a Williams Lake city union worker strike caused the game to be moved, took a 1-0 series lead from the CIHL regular-season champs following an exciting 3-2 overtime win.
It was a seesaw affair, with the Steeleheads opening the scoring near the five-minute mark of the first period.
Williams Lake’s Nathan Zurak tied it up on a power play with just two minutes remaining in the period.
Williams Lake then took the lead in the second period on another power play goal, with defenceman Brent McIsaac being credited with a very strange goal that saw the puck roll off the back of Steelhead’s netminder Mike Wall and into the net.
Smithers tied the contest at 2-2 early in the third period on a power play goal of their own, before both teams’ defences shut the door to close out regulation time.
In overtime, it was the heroics of former Williams Lake Timberwolves’ and Stampeders’ defenceman Tyler Fuller that sent his squad into elation as he ended the game with just under four minutes gone in the extra frame.
The Stamps now head to Smithers this coming weekend (March 2-3) for game two and, if necessary, game three.
Should Williams Lake win one of the two games next weekend it will be their third league championship in four years.