The Prince Rupert Rampage played host to the Kitimat Ice Demons on Saturday night, and fell short of picking up the win in a close, hard-fought game.
The Rampage opened the scoring to the delight of the home fans as Kendal Stace-Smith fired a hard slapshot from the top of the circle that got by Thomas Mildenberger with 13:48 on the clock. The two teams exchanged chances for the next 10 minutes, including Colby Hogman making a big save after a turnover at the side of the net left the Rupert netminder one-on-one with the Demons offence, but Rupert made it a two goal lead with five minutes left when Travis Helland blasted a slapper from just inside the blue line that beat Mildenberger glove-side. The joy was shortlived, however, as just 20 seconds later Terry Whelan put one past the pads of Hogman from a bad angle, and the first ended with a 2-1 Rampage lead.
There were physical fireworks early in the second when Kitimat took exception to a Jared Meers hit and all 10 skaters mixed it up along the boards. It took several minutes to clear up the commotion, but the result was Meers and Jared Davis being ejected from the game, Kitimat’s Jordan Goncalves being ejected, and a three minute Kitimat powerplay that followed two minutes of four-on-four action. After killing the penalty and a penalty that immediately followed, the Rampage had a two minute 5-on-3 opportunity but were unable to capitalize and both teams had their opportunities during the period, including Mildenberger shutting down a Kory Movold breakaway. While it looked like Prince Rupert would take the lead into the second, Jeff Mildenberger put a spinning backhand through Hogman’s five-hole with just 10.3 seconds left to tie things up with 20 minutes to play.
Kitimat completed the comeback just 28 seconds into the third as Blaine Markwart out-waited Hogman and went top shelf over the downed goalie. Things exploded on the ice again with 5:06 to play as a Demon player snowed Hogman after the whistle resulting in two fights as Kitimat’s Nick Markowsky and Ben Rumley squared off with Prince Rupert’s Brian Tates and Travis Helland respectively. With the clock winding down, the Rampage pulled their goalie for the extra attacker but couldn’t put home the tying goal to fall to Kitimat 3-2.
“We had a lot of neutral zone turnovers in the first and in the second we didn’t get a shot off until about four minutes in. We were on the powerplay for a lot of the game, but we just couldn’t get the shots off,” said Rampage president Ron German, who was behind the bench for the game, adding the team could have played more physical.
“We should have capitalized on our opportunities, that had to be the difference. We had a lot of chances, we just couldn’t capitalize,” said assistant captain Kory Movold.
The Rampage now sit alone at the bottom of the CIHL rankings with one win in six games. Both German and Movold say the slow start to the season has to do with losing players to injury.
“We just have to get healthy. When we get the full roster back, you are going to see quite a difference,” said German.
Next up for the team is a road trip this weekend to play both the Quesnel Kangaroos and the Williams Lake Stampeders, teams that are numbers one and two in the CIHL eastern conference.
“We’ve played Quesnel before so we know what we’re in for. We haven’t played Williams Lake yet, but I expect a tough, physical game,” said Movold.
Around the League
Before making the trip to Prince Rupert, the Kitimat Ice Demons faced off with the Terrace River Kings on Friday night and lost 6-1
Williams Lake was also in action on Friday night, beating the Quesnel Kangaroos 8-5. The Stampeders followed up that win with a 9-5 victory over the Lac La Hache Tomahawks.
The Stampeders now sit alone atop the league standing with 11 points, followed by Houston and Smithers ar nine points apiece. The Kangaroos and Ice Demons are tied with eight points, and the River Kings and Tomawahawks are tied with four points. The Rampage are in the CIHL basement with two points.