The Prince Rupert Rampage secured top spot in the western conference of the Central Interior Hockey League with a pair of wins over the visiting Houston Luckies this weekend.
It was Houston who struck first though, as Jonathan Marren went low stick side on Keith Movold just 3:44 into the first to give the Luckies the 1-0 lead, but the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Arena erupted less than a minute later as Rob Millar fired a wrister over the blocker of Don Kenzle to even things up. And Millar wasn’t done yet as he brought the puck out from behind the net, circled in front and went top shelf on Kenzle with seven minutes to play to give Rupert the 2-1 lead. Jonathan Huntburied a back hand into the Houston net with the netminder out of position just 25 seconds after that to give the Rampage the 3-1 lead, which they would take into the second period.
The Rampage would add to that lead with 14:17 to go as Chris Woodrow put home a rebound at the side of the net, and Colt Stava would make it 5-1 with 7:38 to play as he picked up a bouncing puck at the side of the goal and put it past Kenzle. The second period would end with Rupert leading 5-1, but Houston would show they still had some life in the third.
At 16:45 of the third Blaire Dinelle wnt low on Movold to pull Houston to within three, and Dinelle added his second of the game with just 2:35 to play on a shot from the blue line that got by the Rupert netminder. But it was too little too late as the Rampage would remain unbeaten at home and take the 5-3 win.
On Sunday it was Houston that struck first again. Shortly after killing a five-on-three Houston’s Jonathan Marren swept in from the side boards and went low stick side on Movold, and the Luckies Skyler Hassell went top shelf over Movold’s glove with 1:46 to play to give Houston the two goal lead going into the second.
In the second a fired up Rampage squad came out looking to keep their at-home unbeaten streak intact. Rob Millar got behind the defence with 16:21 to go and put a wrister over the glove of Don Kenzle to pull the home team to within one. With 9:34 to play Jeremy Boot evened things up with a great individual effort that saw him hauled down and denied on his first shot but able to poke the puck past Kenzle while still on the ice to even things at two.
Houston pulled ahead again though, as Marren was left alone at the side of the net on the powerplay and made no mistake in putting the puck past Movold. It looked like Rupert might have tied things up when Millar came across the front of the net and put one past a downed Kenzle, but Kenzle dislodged the net with his skate while going down for the save and the goal was waved off. Undeterred, Brett Stava picked up a lose puck in front and went five-hole less than a minute after the ensuing face-off to pull the teams even at three.
That would be all the scoring in the game, sending it to a shoot-out. And what a shoot-out it was, as 13 players were denied by Kenzle and Movold before Jared Meers went five-hole on the Houston netminder to give the Rampage the 4-3 win and keep the unbeaten at home streak alive.
With the win the Rampage are securely in first in the CIHL western conference, and will start the playoffs on the road against the Hazelton Wolverines, who finished with four points, next weekend.