There are big games and then there are big games.
Tonight, the Osoyoos Coyotes have one of the later — a really big game.
The Yotes (12-13-2) travel to Kelowna and a fourth regular-season meeting with the Chiefs (25-1-1-2).
They go with a pair of 2-1 losses to arguably the league’s best team this season in their back pocket and something else — a chance, for the first time since early October, to be playing 500 hockey.
“For me, as a coach, that would be ever so sweet and rewarding,” said head coach Mark Chase of tonight’s opportunity. “But I take myself out of the equation and it’s about the players. Ultimately, it’s about how well they’re prepared.
“it’s big, but at the other end of things, it is just another hockey game. We have stick to what we do best and our game plan.”
The Coyotes are also on a three-game winning streak and have gone 6-3-1 over their last 10 games.
The Chiefs — who boast the league’s top three scorers in Brody Dale, Devin Sutton and Zach Erhardt — last lost at home Dec. 1, when they fell 7-2 to Summerland Steam.
Kelowna has since reeled off three wins, including a 5-3 victory Tuesday in Princeton.
“We’re preparing for a special-teams battle,” said Chase, adding he believes his club measures up when playing five-on-five. “I think special teams will be one of the determining factors. That and face-offs.”
The Coyotes have scored nine goals in 22 powerplay opportunities over the last three games, scoring 40 percent of the time with the man advantage.
Nevertheless, the club has focused on the “staples” as it worked through the week preparing for tonight’s game — and also worked hard to build confidence.
“Success equals service and sacrifice,” Chase reminds his players. “And then we talk about inspiring, uplifting and encouraging themselves and one another.
“We always talk about that and we have since we started trending upwards.”
Chase said Daniel Paul will get the start in net this evening. The Yotes will be without Bryson Garksa, serving the last of a four-game suspension.
Game time this evening at Rutland Arena is 7 p.m. Other Okanagan divisional play has the Posse in Sicamous and North Okanagan Knights hosting Summerland.