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Cook serves up the icing on the cake for Prince Rupert

Triumphant home return for Josh Cook as Rampage roll River Kings on Hometown Hockey weekend

There were some added layers to the Prince Rupert Rampage game at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Saturday night. Not only was the match against their fiercest rival the Terrace River Kings, and not only was the game to decide first place in the league, but in addition the eyes of the country were on Prince Rupert as Hometown Hockey made its first ever visit to the town.

Prince Rupert had dealt the Kitimat Ice Demons a 7-4 defeat the night before, meaning a win would put them in the CIHL’s top spot. Prior to facing off against the undefeated River Kings, a ceremonial puck drop was held with special guests Tara Slone, Kirk McLean and Dwayne Roloson, who were in town for the weekend festivities.

Tara Slone, Dwayne Roloson and Kirk McLean performed a ceremonial faceoff before the Rampage and River Kings took to the ice on Saturday. They were joined by Rampage captain Kory Movold, River Kings captain Steve Cullis, and of course Rupert the rhino. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

As is usually the case between the two sides the action was spirited from the start, and it didn’t take long before Terrace’s Jeremy Vandenbrock had the first goal of the game at 7:29.

The home side responded within two minutes though when Tyler Ostrom ventured up ice to bust out on a breakaway. In front of the thousand strong crowd Ostrom deposited a highlight reel goal into the net, one that would be immortalized in the Hometown Hockey broadcast the following day. Ostrom’s goal also sparked the Rampage’s third annual Teddy Bear Toss, resulting in a barrage of stuffed animals (donated by the B.C. Liquor Store) cascading toward the ice that the Salvation Army will donate to kids in toy hampers this Christmas season. It was a big haul, as $1,412.85 was raised for Salvation Army, their biggest result ever.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Slone on Prince Rupert, working with MacLean and women in sports

There wouldn’t be any more scoring in the first, but just 73 seconds into the second Jared Meers notched his second goal of the season. The lead wouldn’t last long though, as Austin Turner tied things up again two minutes later with Ostrom sitting in the box for a cross-check.

The rest of the period belonged to the Rampage though, and they were back in the lead at 11:44 as Jacob Santurbano backhanded home a rebound on the power play. Just 67 seconds later the lead was doubled as Josh Cook, playing his first home game with the Rampage in two years, converted on a one timer pass from Jordan Weir to double Prince Rupert’s lead.

Jacob Santurbano celebrates after scoring a power play goal to put the Rampage up 3-2 in the second period. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Terrace brought the game within one in the third on a goal by Hunter Johnson 3:17 in, but Prince Rupert took the momentum right back a minute later with a score from Jean-Luc Rendell-Fournier as he snapped the puck post and in coming down the right side.

Johnson seemed to be willing his team back into the game though, scoring his second goal of the period at 12:04 to cut the lead to 5-4.

READ MORE AND WATCH MORE: EXCLUSIVE | Ron MacLean on Prince Rupert: “A kaleidoscope for the eyes”

This time Rupert would only need 45 seconds to restore their two goal lead, with Cook dishing up a pass to Jordan Weir for his league leading 10th goal of the season. The River Kings refused to quit, Mason Richey scoring with just under four minutes left to play to once again narrow the Rupert lead to a single goal. But with Ben Reinbolt serving a tripping penalty late in the game, Cook iced things away with his second goal of the game, coming off touches from Ostrom and Weir. Ostrom recorded his fifth point of the game with six seconds remaining when he rifled a shot into the empty net to fill out the 8-5 scoreline.

Tyler Ostrom was one of the stars of the evening on Saturday, scoring a highlight reel breakaway goal midway through the first to tie things up after Prince Rupert surrendered the opening goal. The goal, and subsequent celebration, not only captured the attention of the thousand fans in the arena, but also the Rogers Hometown Hockey crew, who featured it on their national broadcast the following night. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Terrace River Kings Mason Richey celebrates a third period goal during CIHL action on Saturday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre. The celebration was short-lived with the Prince Rupert Rampage adding two more goals to post an 8-5 victory during Rupert’s Hometown Hockey weekend.

River Kings head coach Rory Reinbolt stressed the importance of home ice following the game, for both the match that just ended and the upcoming game between the two sides. “We’re missing a few key guys in the lineup, and we knew this group was going to be pretty ramped up for Hometown Hockey. Home ice helps a lot. This rink is a little bigger than ours, and we’re used to our rink.”

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Kirk McLean on first time in Prince Rupert, changing nature of goaltending and Canucks outlook

Prince Rupert’s final game of the calender year will take place on Dec. 14 with an immediate rematch between the two teams, this time in Terrace. Repole knows the River Kings will be seeking a quick response.

“I expect nothing less,” Repole said, referencing the no quit nature the River Kings showed all game. “They’ll probably have a couple more guys and we’ll have to battle just as hard. They’re a good squad over there.”

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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