The Leafs struggled to score on Revelstoke Grizzlies goaltender Brandon Weare in Game 4 of the Teck Cup finals in Nelson. Photo: Bob Hall

The Leafs struggled to score on Revelstoke Grizzlies goaltender Brandon Weare in Game 4 of the Teck Cup finals in Nelson. Photo: Bob Hall

Revelstoke Grizzlies outlast Nelson Leafs in triple-OT to win Game 4

Revelstoke leads the Teck Cup series 3-1

Hockey games tend to devolve the longer they last.

Skates slow as regulation turns to overtime, and if a game happens to make it to double overtime it isn’t long before skill fades in favour of dump-ins, poor passes, and awkward shots. If it continues through to a triple overtime, any ending can be a mercy.

But mercy will be cold comfort for the Nelson Leafs.

Will McPhee scored in triple-OT as the Revelstoke Grizzlies beat the Leafs 4-3 to win Game 4 in Nelson on Tuesday and put a stranglehold on the KIJHL championship.

McPhee tipped a pass past Nelson’s goaltender Dylan Marshall with 4:56 left in the very, very late period to give the Grizzlies a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Teck Cup finals.

“We all battled as hard as we could tonight,” said Leafs defenceman Tyson Lautard. “There was nothing that we regretted tonight.”

Brandon Weare was the difference for the Grizzlies in net with a tremendous 49-save performance. Kaleb West, Brandon Kasdorf and Cole Berg also scored in regulation for Revelstoke.

Johnny Carmichael, Liam Noble and Bryce Sookro scored for the Leafs, with Dylan Marshall stopping 37 shots.

Revelstoke can win the KIJHL championship Thursday on its home ice in Game 5. Game 6, if necessary, will be played in Nelson on Friday.

Lautard was dazed but not defeated after the loss. It took an exceptional goalie performance in Weare to keep them from winning, and Lautard knew it.

“I thought we were doing great. [Revelstoke is] good on their capitalizations. They just got their one opportunity, and they got it.”

Nelson outshot Revelstoke 12-5 in the second OT, but couldn’t solve Weare who was sensational during the marathon game. The Grizzlies turned the momentum around in the third OT, outshooting a tired Leafs side 9-4 when McPhee finally ended the stalemate.

“Their goalie probably made 10 A-plus saves through the overtime periods,” said Leafs assistant coach Adam DiBella. “I think if we’re a little hungrier around some scrambles around the net that will help us out in Revelstoke.”

The Grizzlies started the game shorthanded for a warmup violation. The gaffe didn’t cost them, but the Leafs couldn’t say the same after taking a too-many-men penalty five minutes into the game.

On the ensuing power play, West’s point shot slipped past Marshall’s pads to give Revelstoke a 1-0 lead.

The Leafs’ offence was flat to start the game, and didn’t register a shot on Weare for the first nine minutes of regulation.

Nelson did itself little favour either. The home team had a late power play, only for Carmichael to take a goalie interference penalty shortly after.

But the Leafs looked better after the break, and were rewarded with the tying goal less than four minutes into the second period.

A shot by Liam Noble bounced off Weare and Carmichael was the first in a crowd to get his stick on the puck for Nelson’s opening goal.

Revelstoke retook the lead on a power play midway through the period. A point shot by West went high over Marshall and caromed off the boards back to Kasdorf, whose shot was too hot for the Leafs goalie to handle.

Nelson again tied the game on yet another power play. Weare’s failed clearance led to Noble teeing up a nasty slapshot that went top shelf, tying the game at two.

The Leafs then took their first lead of the game with just 55 seconds left in the period. Weare couldn’t react quick enough to Sookro’s point shot, putting Nelson up 3-2.

The Grizzlies tied the game six minutes into the third period after catching Nelson on a line change. A breakout pass from Will McPhee found Berg, whose wrist shot found the net with Leafs defenders a step behind.

Little did either team know that would be the last goal scored for the foreseeable future.

A 3-1 series deficit is familiar ground for the Leafs, which had to dig out of this exact hole to win their opening playoff round against Castlegar. DiBella said he thinks they can do it again.

“The coaching staff is incredibly proud of the effort we put forth tonight,” said DiBella. “Six periods of Leafs hockey. We feel as a group there are a lot of external factors we’re fighting against and this is a group that when we face adversity we push forward. We’re very confident in the group that we have here and the goal that we’re looking to accomplish together.”

Leaflets: Leafs head coach Mario DiBella wasn’t on the bench after being suspended one game by the KIJHL for a game misconduct in the final 10 minutes of Game 3 on Monday. He’s eligible to return for Game 5 in Revelstoke on Thursday. … Attendance was 1,197, just three short of capacity at the Nelson and District Community Complex.

With files from Bob Hall.

KIJHLNelson LeafsRevelstoke Grizzlies