The Nelson Leafs won Friday in second overtime against the Grand Forks Border Bruins 3-2, thanks to a penalty shot by Tyler Garcia.
The nail-biter finale was brought on by a 2-2 tie created by Leaf Tyler Fyfe and Bruin Shayne Pluto.
Ready: Leafs goaltender Joseph Barton, Andy Fitzpatrick and Ren Mason. Tamara Hynd photo
Pluto’s initial score in the first was returned by Fyfe, who also scored Wednesday’s winning goal against the Castlegar Rebels. In the second, Fyfe scored again putting the Leafs in the lead well into the third.
Below: Tyler Fyfe moments after scoring on Grand Forks for the second time, bringing his team into a 2-1 lead. Jitka Ostermann photo
As for the lack-luster play during parts of the game, compared to the intensity of play in the trio of games last weekend, Fyfe said Grand Forks has improved greatly since last year.
“We came into the game thinking they weren’t going to be that good,” said Fyfe, “and they surprised us so we laid back a bit.”
The Leafs carried most of the penalties, which were heavy in the second, including captain Rayce Miller being ejected from the game for misconduct (he had already served a penalty for fighting.)
In the third, with less than five minutes left, Pluto scored again bringing the game to a 2-2 tie.
Grand Forks Border Bruins. Tamara Hynd photo
The game went into overtime with the teams dropping to four-on-four but ended without a score.
Going into the second overtime, it dropped to three-on-three. That’s when the Bruins were called on a penalty for too many men on the ice.
The winning goal was made by Garcia on the penalty shot.
“That, for me, was exciting and a big confidence builder,” said Garcia, adding he wasn’t having the best game. (He served penalties in the second with two minutes for high-sticking and another 10 for misconduct.)
When the Bruins’ penalty was called, Garcia said back at the Leafs’ bench head coach Dave McLellan asked ‘Who likes shoot-outs?’
“I raised my hand like ‘coach, coach’,” laughed Garcia. He explained: “I’m always out late practicing on the moves I do with the goalies and I just had that one picked out the whole time.”
Leaf forward Tyler Garcia gets a leaping bear hug from teammate Tyler Fyfe. Jitka Ostermann photo
Below: The Leafs mob teammate Tyler Garcia after his winning penalty shot. Tamara Hynd photo
While the Nelson crowd cheered and the Leafs mobbed Garcia in congratulations for his winning shot, expletives were slung at the referee by some Bruins. Even when most players had left the ice and benches, screams from the Bruins bench were directed towards the referee with promises to return.
Reflecting on the game afterwards, Fyfe told the Star: “It always feels good [to score] but in the end, we got the W, even if it wasn’t the prettiest. I think, in the end, we were the better team.”
The Leafs get one day of rest from competitive play before they hit the ice on Sunday to face the North Okanagan Knights at the Nelson and District Community Centre at 2:30 p.m.