The Prince Rupert Rampage faced off with the undefeated Smithers Steelheads in the first round of the CIHL playoffs and, as it has been throughout the season, Smithers came away with the win.
Both goalies showed they were on their game early on, stopping everything that came at them to finish the first with a scoreless deadlock.
Unfortunately for the Rampage, the offensive floodgates opened in the second and turned a tied game into one that was essentially out of reach by the end of 40 minutes.
Darryl Young opened the scoring less than 90 seconds into the period, and less than three minutes later Russ Blanchard gave Smithers the 2-0 lead. With 13:09 to play, Stu Barnes found the back of the net to make it 3-0. While the Rampage had their chances, including a shot off the post that would have pulled them to within two, league MVP Mike Wall showed why he earned that title and the Steelheads never let up, continuing to drive up the score late in the period. Barnes scored his second of the game with 7:45 left on the clock, Joe Karpinski made it 5-0 with less than five minutes to go and Ian Smith capped off an offensively powerful second with 1:45 to go to give the Steelheads the 6-0 lead through the first 40 minutes of play.
In the third the Rampage offense put an end to Wall’s shutout bid when Jacob Santurbano put Rupert on the board with 15:45 to play. That would be all the offense for the home squad though, and less than a minute later Adam Devries scored to regain the six goal lead and with 5:30 to go Karpinski netted his second of the game, giving the Steelheads a 8-1 win.
The series will now shift to Smithers this weekend, where the Rampage have to win one game to keep their playoff hopes alive.