It was a strange, yet entertaining way to start the new season of hockey.
The Nelson Leafs and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks played to a 3-3 tie on Friday night at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
The two rivals battled it out through two overtime sessions, but could not decide on a winner.
The game began late, due to a broken pane of glass at the arena, and that unusual occurrence set the tone for the evening.
Four minutes into the game a hard hit from behind put Leafs player Nico Sidoni out for the evening.
It was a scary moment as play was halted. Trainers and players gathered around Sidoni, who was eventually taken off on a backboard and stretcher and taken to hospital.
Later reports indicated that despite having a contusion on his head, Sidoni was alert and responsive.
Back on the ice, local payer Sam Weber scored the first goal of the game, and of the Leafs’ season to give the squad the lead after one period.
Beaver Valley tied the game at one in the second, but the Leafs quickly regained the lead.
Or did they?
The referees called off the go ahead goal after determining the net was off its posts.
Not to be deterred, Nelson’s Robson Cramer scored soon after to give the Leafs the lead for real.
Nelson increased the lead to 3-1 in the third when Rayce Miller popped in his first goal of the young season. But Beaver Valley battled back.
The visitors scored two goals in less than a minute, to tie the game at 3-3 with seven minutes to go.
A five minute, four on four overtime decided nothing, so the squads went to the new, three on three overtime. Again, neither side could find the game winning goal.
Adam Maida was strong in the nets for the Leafs, making a game-saving save with 30 seconds to go in the second overtime.
“The fans got their dollar’s worth on this game, for sure,” said Leafs head coach David McLellan.
“It’s too bad we let up a little there and didn’t secure the win, but I don’t think you could ask for a much better game.”
The coach said his squad is still trying to get in game shape, but the work ethic was there. They also have some holes to fill on their roster.
“We are still three forwards shy of a full roster. Still, a pretty good effort for nine forwards and six defencemen.”
He pointed to Sam Weber, Nolan Percival, Darnel St. Pierre, Robson Cramer and Adam Maida as some of the game’s standouts.
Weber, a Nelson native and a rookie, said he was happy with his performance.
“I played a couple of games last year for Nelson so I’m familiar with the group,” he said.
Coming into training camp, Weber said he had a little more confidence having played with the squad before. That confidence seems to have paid off.
“It was a good, fast-paced game,” he said about the opener. “It’s a good way to start the season.”
While happy with the game overall, Weber is not a fan of the new three on three overtime.
“There’s a lot of space there, a lot of skating for sure.”
The Leafs play again on Saturday night when the Castlegar Rebels come to town. The puck drops at 7 p.m.