It was heartbreak hotel for one team and total exhilaration for the other club. With their respective seasons on the brink, the Pembroke Lumber Kings and Brockville Braves needed to play into a fourth overtime period in game seven of their Central Canada Hockey League quarter-final series, a series that would be won on a goal by Caleb Kean at the 6:21 mark of the seventh period.
Kean became the hero after he banged home a rebound, just a few seconds after Lumber Kings captain Bruce Coltart had an opportunity to end the game at the other end of the ice. The goal sent the crowd of more than 1,200 fans into a frenzy and because of its long road to completion, it has instantly become a classic in the rich history of the league.
Commissioner Kevin Abrams called it unreal and fantastic. “It was such a battle of will and character between two great rivals. These players left it all on the ice and while they may have known little of the history of these two franchises, they are part of that history now,” said Abrams.
It was after midnight when the game ended, more than five hours after the initial puck drop. The game length of 126 minutes and 31 seconds fell short of the record for the longest game in league history. That record is held by the Nepean Raiders and Smiths Falls Bears who played 147 minutes and 10 seconds in a 1987 playoff game that was won by the Raiders 6-5.
The game seven matchup between the Braves and Kings was the first time the clubs had met for a deciding tilt since 2009 when the Kings won decisively in game seven, but most people remember another classic game seven played on March 25, 2005. That game was in Pembroke and also went to overtime but was decided early when defenceman Charles Patterson found the back of the net just 37 seconds into the extra frame. There were more than 4,000 fans in he Pembroke Memorial Centre that night and when they jumped to their feet when Patterson scored, the whole rink shook.
In Brockvlle Friday night, the Kings got on the board first. Jack Stockfish opened the scoring with a one-time blast that beat Braves netminder Sammy Molu at the 11:37 mark of the first period. The goal came on a Kings powerplay, but it was Stockfish who was in the penalty box when the Braves tied the score late in the second period. Ryan Bonfield, one of the Braves top scorers during the regular season, found the back of the net, beating Kings goalie Reece Proulx from in close at 18:45 of the period.
The Kings dominated the third period, outshooting the Braves 10-4 but they couldn’t get the go-ahead goal and that led to the extra period. In the overtime, both Proulx and Molu made several great saves including a spectacular stop by Proulx on the eventful overtime hero, Caleb Kean when he kicked out his leg to make a toe save on a shot that looked labelled for the lower corner of the net in the first overtime. He also made a remarkable stop late in the third overtime period when he flung his arm in the air to knock down a shot that was headed into the top of the net.
Kean’s game winner came after the Braves stormed into the Kings end and Lucas Culhane took a wrist shot from the high slot. The rebound ended up in front of the net and Kean was able to find the puck and shoot it past a sprawling Proulx who faced 61 shots in the game. The Kings fired 58 shots at Molu in the Brockville net.
The Braves had come back to force game seven after falling behind in the series three games to one. Brockville will now meet Hawkesbuiry in the league semi-finals. The other semi-final matches Renfrew and Ottawa.
The Kings finished their regular season with 64 points and entered the series with the Braves as the underdog. Brockville finished third overall