When the puck crossed the line at 4:37 of overtime, sending the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League final back to the west coast, it encapsulated everything the sport is all about for Riley Simms.
“Goals like that make you love the game,” the Western Kings forward said of his winning goal in a 3-2 Game 5 win on Sunday at the Trinity Placentia Arena.
“It was just an amazing feeling.”
Simms was one of two overtime heroes for the Kings last weekend — the other being Brett Urquhart in Game 3 on Friday — as they took two of three from the Tri Pen Osprey and guaranteed at least a Game 6 at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex tonight.
They still trail the best-of-seven series 3-2.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Simms admitted of both the weekend’s overtime periods. “It was just a feeling of having to stay alive.”
At least the win on Friday gave them some positive momentum when they were faced with the task again on Sunday, although the stakes — elimination — were higher.
“That definitely helped,” Simms said.
Simms, a six-foot, 178-pound left-winger from Corner Brook, put up five goals in the regular season and has only scored once in these playoffs, but they don’t come bigger than that.
Now, he and the team must prepare for the Osprey to bring everything they’ve got tonight. There’s little doubt the visitors would love to avoid a winner-take-all situation in hostile territory.
“They’re going to come out flying and come out hard,” Simms said. “Because they can.”
For their part, Simms said he expects the Kings coaching staff to have them playing “balls to the wall,” to try and get the Osprey reeling early.
These situations — and those big goals — are all part of why Simms wanted to be a King so badly. He was named as an alternate roster player last year, limited to just three games, and concluded the season with the Western Knights minor midget crew.
“I just feel like this is the team that’s best to play on,” he explained. “It gives you the best hockey.”
If this has been a dream season for him, Simms is hoping the alarm doesn’t go off just yet.
Game 6 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex in Deer Lake, with Game 7, if necessary, going same time, same place on Saturday night.