Rupert Rampage’s playoff season came to an end after two decisive defeats by the Terrace River Kings on March 4 and 5.
The Rampage was trounced 7-1 in game one in front of a packed crowd at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre and then defeated 5-1 in game two in Terrace.
“They were ready and we weren’t,” said Roger Atchison, Rampage coach.
Going into the series, the Rampage record against the Kings was two losses and a tie, with each game being decided by only one goal.
On March 4, the River Kings made a perfect start to the series campaign opening up the scoring in the seventh minute of the first game with a goal from Ian Chrystal.
Terrace would end the first period with another goal with only 26 seconds left on the clock.
As the whistle blew signalling the second period, the Rampage needed a goal to stay in the game. Instead, the River Kings put three more in the back of the net to go up 5-0. The second would end with a Rampage goal from Justin Brand to put them on the scoreboard.
In the third, the Rampage was unable to pierce the River Kings’ defence while unable to stop another two goals from their opponents to end the game 7-1.
“Our goalie played solid and the boys were really freaking focused,” said Louis Teixeria, River Kings assistant manager.
What really made the difference in game one was Terrace’s penalty-kill, which allowed them to stop the Rampage’s momentum, Teixeria said.
After the first loss, Atchison said they had no excuses and just had to be better.
“They were clicking on all cylinders. Everything they did was working right,” Atchison said.
Game two was a much more hotly contested match in which the Rampage made the River Kings work for their win.
“We played a heck of a lot better,” Atchison said.
The first period of game two started off with a late River Kings goal to put them on the front foot to finish off the series in back-to-back games. However, Terrace would not be able to find the back of the net again until the final period.
In the second period neither team was able to beat the other’s goaltender.
The River Kings goalie, Tyran Hunter, was key in keeping Terrace in the game until the third period, said Ross Smith, River Kings general manager.
However, once the third period started, Terrace found their offensive stride.
Within two minutes the Kings were up 2-0. The Rampage would strike back to cut the lead in half, but the Kings’ momentum was not to be stopped.
Terrace went on to three more goals to win 5-1 and wrap up the best-of-three series in two games.
Since the end of the regular season, the Rampage had been struggling offensively to find the goals they have needed to win big games, Atchison said.
“The same thing happened yesterday … [Terrace] played well, they were honest and we gave it everything we had. We just had no finish,” he said.
The River Kings will now go on to the where they will face the Quesnel Kangaroos.
Although the loss marked the end to the Rampage’s season, the head coach was happy with the season’s performance.
“I’m happy with our team. We’re slowly making strides in the right direction. I thought we handled ourselves very good all year,” Atchison said.
“I can’t say enough about our team and our support staff and everything with our Rampage organization. From the fans to the community, everyone rallies and the players know that. Even when we go light sometimes they leave it out there. It’s a good group of guys.”
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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