The Prince Rupert Rampage took to the ice on Saturday night looking to extend their winning streak to three straight against the Houston Luckies.
The two teams set the pace for what would be a physical game in the early going, and it would be the Rampage that opened the scoring as Jordan Weir beat Brock Henrickson with 13:50 to play to put Prince Rupert up early. After the early goal, however, the game evolved into a goaltender battle as Henrickson and Warren Hansen turned away every shot they faced leading to a 1-0 Rampage lead through the first.
The goalies and the hard hits continued to be the highlight of the game, as Henrickson seemed to be standing on his head at times and kept the Luckies within striking distance despite Prince Rupert controlling the play throughout the early part of the period. Although much of the play was in the Luckies zone, it was Houston who struck with 9:52 to play as Blair Dinelle put the rebound of his own wrap-around over Hansen’s glove to tie things up at one. Although there was a lot of physical play in the late going, neither team could put one past the netminders and the period ended with the score knotted a one.
The Rampage started the third with a 5-on-3 powerplay following some rough stuff at the buzzer of the second, and the team controlled the play throughout the first five minutes but were unable to get the go-ahead goal. But with just under 13 minutes to play the wheels started to fall off for the Luckies as Gavin Harburn scored his first CIHL goal with a wrister over Henrickson’s blocker with 12:42 to play and Devin Palmer went five-hole just nine seconds later to lead by two. The goals seemed to frustrate the Luckies, who picked up several penalty minutes late in the game and paid the price for it. Brock Ward’s blast from the point found the back of the net during a 5-on-3 powerplay with 4:08 to go, and Jeff Coolin drove the final nail in the coffin with a wrist shot from right in front while on the power play with just 56.3 seconds left on the clock to give Prince Rupert the 5-1 victory.
“They are a very physical team. We knew from playing them earlier this year that their plan was to hit anyone with the puck, so we wanted to move the puck quickly and out-skate them so that they would have nothing left by the third, and I think the scoring shows it worked,” said Rampage captain Jared Meers.
“The guys stuck to the game plan and our goaltender battled hard to keep us in it, although I have to tip my hat to their goaltender as well,” said coach Roger Atchison.
The Rampage have now won three straight against division leaders, and Meers said it shows just how the team has evolved throughout the season.
“The team was largely new guys coming together with a new system under a new coach, so this just shows that we are beginning to gel and everything we have been working for is paying off,” he said, with Atchison noting a lot of it has to do with having a healthy team again.
The Rampage, who remain at the bottom of the Western conference rankings with eight points, will host the Kitimat Ice Demons this Saturday.
“I expect another win,” said Meers.
Around the league
The Terrace River Kings picked up four points this weekend, defeating the Smithers Steelheads 5-4 in a shootout and downing the Luckies 13-2.
The Ice Demons traveled to the Cariboo this weekend, coming away with a win and a loss. On Saturday, Kitimat defeated the Williams Lake Stampeders 4-3 but were blown out 10-2 by the Quesnel Kangaroos on Sunday afternoon.
The day before beating the Demons, the Kangaroos blew out the Lac La Hache Tomahawks 11-4.