The Prince Rupert Bantam Seawolves played a home and away series against Kitimat on Nov. 25 and 26.
The team tied the series 1-1 after losing the first game 5-1 at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Ice Arena before gutting out a quality 5-4 win in Kitimat to split the series.
Bantam coach, Bruce Watkinson, said he was impressed with the fight his team showed over the course of the weekend to earn the series split.
“It was a great comeback given some of the adversity we’d faced,” he said. “When you get two closely matched teams like us and Kitimat, it doesn’t come down to tactics or x’s and o’s. It’s about which team wants it more.”
Watkinson said costly penalties and a disorganized forecheck led to opportunities that Kitimat, a talented squad that relies on its special teams for points, capitalized on. Kitimat scored one goal in the first period, followed by two goals in the second and two in the third. The Seawolves weren’t able to respond until the second half of the third period when Noah Stava scored unassisted.
“Over the week, we talked about staying out of the penalty box,” Watkinson said. “The discipline and penalty trouble was one of the causes of the problem.”
On Nov. 26, the team traveled to Kitimat where some fewer penalties and some tweaks defensively gave them more advantages in the second half of the series.
Prince Rupert opened the scoring early behind a goal by Chase Leighton-Stevens, but Kitimat scored two goals to give themselves the lead at the end of the first period. Kitimat added a goal in the second and Prince Rupert responded with a goal by Noah Aceto to make it 3-2 going into the third.
In the final period, Kitimat scored again to extend their lead to 4-2 before Aceto score back-to-back goals to tie the game. The action went back-and-forth for the remainder of the period with Seawolves goaltender Brevin Jack making several key saves to keep the score level. With less than four minutes left in the game, Mitch Mann scored the go-ahead goal to give the Seawolves their first lead of the game and the win.
Even though Watkinson was happy with his team’s execution in the second game, he said he was more impressed with their effort.
“We received contributions right up and down the line,” he said. “If you didn’t show up on the scoresheet today, it didn’t matter. It was just a gutsy character effort that got us through in the end.”
The team now enters a break in the schedule with a 4-1 record in league play.