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Pair of wins won’t change third-place season finish for Coyotes
A pair of decisive wins during the past week has left the Osoyoos Coyotes securely in third place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Okanagan Division with the regular season soon coming to a close this weekend.
The Coyotes beat the Princeton Posse 7-5 in a home game last Wednesday before beating the Kelowna Chiefs 4-2 Saturday, also at the Sun Bowl.
The victory over Kelowna, combined with a series of wins by the red-hot Summerland Steam, has knocked the Chiefs into second place a single point behind Summerland.
Osoyoos will open the playoffs Feb. 25 against whichever team – Kelowna or Summerland – finishes the regular season in second place.
Considering Summerland has been one of the best teams in the KIJHL since Christmas and has won five straight and Kelowna has lost three straight games, facing off against the Chiefs might be the preference of Coyotes’ head coach and general manager Ken Law and his players.
Kelowna has often given the Coyotes a tough time at the Sun Bowl, but Osoyoos had little trouble Saturday night.
Aaron Azevedo opened the scoring after the midway mark in the first period, and Liam Neary scored late in the first period to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.
Osoyoos dominated the first period of play as they outshot the visitors 20-5 in the opening 20 minutes.
Early in the second period, Rory Neary got a hold of a loose puck in front of the net and flipped it up past Kelowna goalie Tyler O’Donnell making it 3-0 for Osoyoos.
Late in the second period the Coyotes seemed to get complacent and sloppy and often had trouble getting the puck out of their own end. With less than a minute to go in the period, Kelowna ended any hopes Coyote goalie Lawrence Langan might have had for a shutout.
Early in the third period, Jackson DeMatos scored for the Coyotes giving them a safe 4-1 lead.
The Chiefs kept the Coyotes under pressure throughout the third period and with less than eight minutes remaining they scored on a power play to make it 4-2.
In the final minutes, Kelowna tried desperately to close the gap, at one point playing with six attackers against the Coyotes’ four when Kelowna pulled O’Donnell while Brett Anderson was in the penalty box.
However, Langan came up with several key saves and the Coyotes rolled to the 4-2 victory.
Princeton opened the scoring early in last Wednesday’s game, but the Coyotes took a 5-1 lead before Princeton managed to score again on a power play in the last half of the second period.
The Posse narrowed the gap to 5-3 early in the third period before Osoyoos scored two more to widen their lead again. Two more Princeton goals late in the third period failed to close the gap and the game ended 7-5 for Osoyoos.
Rainer Glimpel scored two goals for Osoyoos with other Coyote goals scored by Liam Neary, Azevedo, Colin Chmelka, Cameron Dobransky and Brock McDonald.
The Coyotes next play the North Okanagan Knights Friday night in the last Sun Bowl game of the regular season. On Saturday they travel to Summerland to face the division-leading Steam.
Also on Friday night, Summerland visits Kelowna in a game that could determine which team ends the season in second place and have to face the Coyotes when the playoffs start.