The battle for the Coy Cup is officially on, and the Rupert Rampage took the first step towards that with a 6-5 victory over the Kitimat Ice Demons in the first game of the playoffs on Friday.
It may have been a surprisingly close game, considering the Rampage demolished Kitimat 12-0 last time the two teams faced. But as they say, it’s the playoffs and anything can happen.
The Rampage took a mostly-full lineup for the match and Jordan Vanderwiel made his playoff debut, making 30 saves.
The scoring starting early and happened often, kicking off with a goal by Tom Robinson on the powerplay. Jared Meers also scored in the first as the teams were tied 2-2 after one period.
It was all Kitimat early in the second, though, as the Ice Demons scored a pair of goals to take a 4-2 lead. Rupert’s captain got things going again for the visiting team with his second goal, assisted by Craig Munro, who had three assists in the game. Kory Movold also added a marker to tie it at 4-4, leading to an exciting third period.
Josh Cook and Ryan Stace-Smith each scored on Kitimat goalie Brett Vilness just 59 seconds apart to give the Rampage the 6-4 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
For the Ice Demons, Steven Venman, Jordan Goncalves and Josh Slanina led their offensive charge with a goal and an assist each. Vilness made 30 saves in the loss.
Besides the close score, the teams were nearly even on the penalty sheet as well. The Ice Demons took 10 penalties and the Rampage took nine, with Cook accounting for a pair of those. Despite the powerplay opportunities, neither team showed much success with the extra attacker. Rupert was 1-6 on the powerplay and Kitimat was 0-5.
Game two is on Friday in Prince Rupert at 7:30 p.m. If Kitimat wins, a deciding game will be played at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Saturday at 7 p.m. The winner will face Terrace in the second round.
On the east side, the Smithers Steelheads beat the Quesnel Kangaroos 7-5 in game one of their series, with Williams Lake awaiting the winner.