The playoffs started as they did last year with the Braves matched up against the Williams Lake Stampeders.
Again, as it was the year before, the Stampeders secured home ice advantage on the last weekend of the regular season and came to the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena to open the playoffs.
The similarities to last year did not end there as the Braves once again dropped game one at home coming out on the wrong side of a 6-5 score.
The game kept the packed house entertained right to the final buzzer, but the Braves could not get the equalizer late and are now faced with having to go to Williams Lake to win two straight games to advance.
Both teams came out flying in the first.
The Braves opened the scoring when Dave Wilejto let go a shot from the point that found it’s way through a maze of bodies and beat a badly screened Justin Foote to make it 1-0.
The Stampeders wasted little time getting the goal back when Braves goaltender Wes Hart made a costly mistake with the puck and left Nathan Zurak to tuck it in to tie the game.
The Stampeders pulled ahead later in the frame when first Jeff Gagnon and then Francis Johnson scored to put their team ahead 3-1 going into the second.
The Braves answered early in the second when Matt Matus found the net to pull his team within one.
The game would stay that way until late in the frame when Chris Bohlin redirected a pass out front to put the Stampeders up 4-2 going into the third.
The Braves were able to find the net early in the third when Steve Wilejto redirected a point shot to once again cut the lead to one.
The Stampeders’ Paul Girodat restored the two goal lead two minutes later with a shot off the wing and Francis Johnson followed up with his second of the game to make it 6-3.
The Braves would get goals from Gillaume Pelletier and Josh Weber to cut the Stampeders lead to one and desperately fought for the equalizer but were unable to find the net and the Stampeders came out of Burns Lake with a 6-5 win and a 1-0 lead in their best of three series.
The Braves travel to Williams Lake on Jan. 29 hoping to take the series to a third and deciding game Sunday.