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Hazelton and Quesnel take 1-0 leads in CIHL divisional semi-final series

Winners of the divisional series will face off against Terrace an Williams Lake in divisional finals
A neutral zone pass turns the attack around for the Quesnel Kangaroos on home ice versus the Nechako North Stars in the final game of the regular season en route the eastern division semi-final against Smithers.. (Tracey Roberts photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

When Hazelton defeated Prince Rupert in last year’s opening game of the Central Interior Hockey League playoffs, it was a surprise for everyone, especially the Rampage who had enjoyed a perfect regular season record in 2022-2023.

This year, the same result was not a surprise with Hazelton finishing in second place in the western division with Rupert third.

Nevertheless, the Wolverines were on the road for the first game of the best-of-three series and the Rampage had been nearly undefeatable at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre all year and were seeking redemption.

The game was a dust-up, to say the least, as the scorekeepers needed to start a second scoresheet just to record all the penalties. In total, officials handed out 83 minutes to the Rampage including game misconducts for Jean-Luc Fournier, Drew Fudger and Captain Kory Movold. The Wolverines racked up 51 minutes. Hazelton’s Marcus MacEachern was also tossed from the game.

The only numbers that really mattered at the end of 60 minutes of play, though, were 5-2, the final score in Hazelton’s favour.

Things were looking pretty good for Prince Rupert by the end of the first period as they put up a 2-1 lead on goals by Movold and Marcus Atchison. Ethan Brown had the loan goal for the Wolverines in the first frame.

In the second and third periods, though, it was all Hazelton with Brown notching his second of the game to start things off. At the end of the second period it was 3-2 Wolverines courtesy of regular season league scoring champion Tanner Wort.

Wort would add another in the third period and Dawson McKenzie finished the home team off with the Wolverines fifth goal.

The series now transitions to Hazelton where they will attempt to repeat last year’s sweep of the Rampage on Feb. 17 with Game 3, if necessary, on Feb. 18.

The series winner will face the Terrace River Kings for the western division title.

Meanwhile, the Smithers Steelheads were in Quesnel to face the defending league champion Kangaroos in the first game of the eastern division semi-final.

The Smithers squad would not enjoy the same success on the road as the western division Bulkley Valley compatriots, however.

They did give the Roos a run for their money, however. Game statistics were not available as of press time, but it was a close game with the final score 6-4.

By finishing ahead of Quesnel in the standings, however, Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be played in Smithers. The team will be looking for strong hometown support in their bid to earn the right to go up against the Williams Lake Stampeders in the eastern division final.

Quesnel Kangaroos goalie Alex Wright spins to make the save en route to winning the final game of the regular season 6-4 over the Nechako North Stars en route the eastern division semi-final against Smithers.. (Tracey Roberts photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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