After 67 games stretching from September to March, the Kamloops Blazers’ playoff fate will come down to the 68th and final game of the regular season.
The Blazers’ 5-4 overtime loss at home to Prince George on Friday night, coupled with the Kelowna Rockets’ 2-1 loss in Vancouver, leaves Kamloops and Kelowna tied for the third and final playoff spot in the B.C. Division.
Each club has 62 points and identical 27-32-8 records.
On Saturday, Kamloops finishes the season with a game in Prince George, while Kelowna hosts Vancouver.
If both Kamloops and Kelowna win (or both lose in regulation or overtime) and remain tied after Saturday’s game, an elimination game will be played in Kamloops on Tuesday night, based on the Blazers winning six of 10 head-to-head contests this season.
with the winner advancing to the playoffs to face the Victoria Royals in the first round.
On Friday night at Sandman Centre before 4,629 fans, Kamloops held a 2-1 lead entering the third period, behind goals from Kobe Mohr and Ryley Appelt.
The Cougars scored three straight goals in the first 10 minutes of the final frame to take a 4-2 lead, with Kyrell Sopotyk scoring at 13:39 and Connor Zary forcing overtime — and the guaranteed one point that may prove to be the path to the post-season.
In overtime, Vladislav Mikhalchuk of Prince George scored at 3:46 to give the Western Conference cellar-dwellers the win.
The Blazers outshot the Cougars 30-29, with Kamloops goaltender Dylan Garand stopping 24 and Prince George netminder turning aside 26 shots.
The win was the Cougars’ second against the Blazers this season and the second straight. Prince George snapped a 17-game losing streak on Feb. 22 Kamloops has defeated the Cougars six times this season.
Saturday’s game in Prince George begins at 7 p.m. and can be heard on Radio NL, at 650 on the AM dial. Vancouver visits Kelowna for a 7:05 p.m. faceoff.