The Rupert Rampage have advanced to the next stage of the CIHL playoffs after beating the Kitimat Ice demons 3-2 in game three of their first-round series on Feb. 20.
Brody Hemrich scored the series-winning goal in double-overtime.
“It could have been anyone on our team. We were all working hard. I’m happy to contribute to the team’s success,” Hemrich said.
Roger Atchison, Rampage coach, said there wasn’t much difference between the two teams throughout the three games with them being equally matched.
Each of the games in the series was decided by a single goal. Game one on Feb. 18 ended 2-1 for Kitimat after a third-period short-handed goal from the Ice Demons on their home ice. Game two ended 3-2 for the Rampage, who played in Prince Rupert on Feb. 19.
The final game of the series saw players on both sides extremely disciplined and staying out of the box, seeing seven penalties over the five periods — compared to the penalty-ridden second game which saw 27 trips to the box including five for fighting.
The Rampage opened game three by taking the lead in the third minute of the game thanks to a goal from Jared Carter which created huge cheers from the crowd.
Players continued to battle it out in the intense and fast-paced matchup that saw Kitimat draw level not five minutes later in the first.
However, determined not to fall behind in front of the home crowd, the Rampage struck back to go up 2-1 to finish the first period.
The second period saw the Ice Demons hit the ice running and they scored an equalizing goal in just 90 seconds.
The rest of the period saw much more of the electrifying and focused play. It was end-to-end action with each side probing and trying to beat each other’s goaltenders, who were both in top form. This kept the score level 2-2 for the rest of the period.
In the third period, players did not let up as the stakes grew higher with the next goal taking either team to the next round of play-offs.
Though each team had their chances to clinch the win, neither was able to capitalize in the third period with the game going into overtime.
In the first period of overtime, neither team was able to score. It was only in the second period that on a quick turnaround the Rampage scored the series winner.
Upon the puck hitting the back of the net the arena exploded into cheer and the Rampage bench leapt onto the ice in celebration.
“The difference was a couple of key saves, and we just kept coming,” Atchison said.
The coach credited the packed crowd at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre as they cheered on the home team to help them win the series.
Moving forward, the Rampage will be resting and recovering due to several key injuries, including Judd Repole, Colten Waldhaus, Cole Atchison, Cole Morris, Gage Joel and Jared Meers.
The loss was disappointing for the Kitimat and left some team staff and players teary-eyed as they came off the ice.
“We came together as a team. I can’t ask the guys for anything more,” Donald Pacheco, Ice Demons coach, said. “They did everything I asked, they played our system. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong end today.”
Pacheco said the team has huge potential, and they will be back next season, hoping to improve upon this year’s results.
Next, the Rampage will play the Terrace Ice Kings beginning the series at home on March 4.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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