Junior hockey: Kelowna Chiefs, Osoyoos Coyotes to tangle in first round of KIJHL playoffs

Devin Sutton scores the game-winning goal, in overtime, on Revelstoke Grizzlies goalie Liam McGarva during KIJHL action on Friday, Feb. 22. Kelowna won 3-2. The KIJHL playoffs start Tuesday, Feb. 26. Kelowna will play Osoyoos in the first round. Steve Dunsmoor / Dunsmoor Creative

The Kelowna Chiefs started their remarkable season with a lopsided win, but ended it with a rare loss.

Now the playoffs are here, and the KIJHL’s regular-season champions are hoping to start the second season on a winning note again.

On Saturday, Kelowna closed out its 49-game regular season with a 5-4 loss to the visiting Princeton Posse at Rutland Arena. The Chiefs outshot the Posse 48-41, but couldn’t overcome a rare bad second period in which Princeton lit the lamp three times.

Brody Dale, left, and Devin Sutton celebrate Sutton’s game-winning goal in overtime against Revelstoke on Friday. Dale led the KIJHL in scoring with 50 goals and 73 assists for 123 points in 45 games. Sutton was 12th in scoring with 23 goals and 36 assists for 59 points in 31 games. Steve Dunsmoor / Dunsmoor Creative

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The Chiefs trailed 4-1 heading into the third, but scored quickly, jut 32 seconds in to make it 4-2. However, Princeton scored at 6:58 to make it 5-2, and the Posse withstood a Chiefs comeback, with Kelowna scoring twice in the game’s final five minutes.

Up next for Kelowna are the Osoyoos Coyotes in a first-versus-fourth division playoff series.

Kelowna (43-3-1-0-2, 89 points) finished first overall in league standings, the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference and the Okanagan Division.

Osoyoos (17-29-2-0-1, 37 points) placed fourth in Okanagan Division standings with 37 points. League-wise, the Coyotes placed 16th out of 20.

The other Okanagan Division series will have the second-place Summerland Steam (25-20-2-0-2, 54 pts.) playing the third-place Princeton Posse (19-25-1-0-4, 43 pts.).

All playoff series are a best-of-seven set.

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Game one between Kelowna and Osoyoos will take place Tuesday, 7 p.m. at Rutland Arena. Game two will take place Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Rutland Arena. The Chiefs were 6-0 against the Coyotes this season, outscoring them 33-8.

The series between Summerland and Princeton will start Tuesday and Wednesday in Summerland. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m. The Steam were 3-3 against the Posse, with Summerland outscoring Princeton 16-15.

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In the Doug Birks Division of the Okanagan-Shuswap Conference, it’ll be No. 1 Revelstoke (42-6-0-0-1, 85 pts.) against No. 4 Kamloops Storm (19-26-1-1-2, 41 pts.) and the No. 2 100 Mile House Wranglers (25-19-2-0-3, 55 pts.) against the No. 3 Sicamous Eagles (17-24-3-0-5, 42 pts.).

For the full KIJHL playoff bracket, click here.

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