With just a week left in the regular season, the Prince Rupert Rampage made a statement against one of the best team in the CIHL.
After four periods and nine goals, the Rampage crushed the Williams Lake Stampeders 5-4 in overtime, proving that they can compete with any team on the ice.
“Beating those guys is what it’s going to take to win this league,” Tyler Ostrom, who netted the game winner during the extra period. “It’s a big confidence boost for us to beat them before the playoffs, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
The Rampage entered the game having lost two straight overtime games to the Stampeders, a veteran squad that plays disciplined, positional hockey. However, those two games were on the road, and the Rampage hoped that the home crowd would be able to provide the edge they needed.
The game started in the Rampage’s favour when Cole Atchison scored off the assist by Cody Koskimaki and Robert Patrick two minutes into the first period. Randal Groot soon followed that up with a putback off the shot by Teal Burns.
The Stampeders responded with less than three minutes left to go in the half when Aaron Zuraki scored off the assist from Andrew Fisher and Jassi Sangha to cut the score to 2-1 going into the second.
Williams Lake then tied the game early in the second when Ryan Conlin scored less than two minutes into the third, but the Rampage responded with two more goals of their own, the first scored by Ryan Matthews off the assist from Teal Burns, and the second scored by Burns, who was assisted by Randal Groot and Jordan Venditelli. The two goal, 4-2 lead appeared to give the Rampage the cushion it needed, but the Stampeders responded again with two quick goals by Conlin and Darcy Flaherty to level the score.
“We were trying to do too many things in the second that cost us a few goals,” Ostrom said. “In the third, I think we played really well.”
Both teams played with increased intensity in the third period, with neither team able to get a quality shot on net. When the clock ran to zero, the score was still 4-4, which set up the decisive overtime.
“I told them that we had a bigger bench, lots of speed, and we’ve just got to use it,” said head coach Roger Atchison. “I just told the guys to keep the speed going, bring the pace up and skate hard.”
The overtime period was back and forth until Kory Movold put a shot on net that got away from Stampeder netminder Justin Foote. The puck ricochet out to Ostrom, who took advantage of the opportunity to score the winning goal.
“I just wanted to hit it,” he said. “Luckily, I just got it over his shoulder.”
The win improves the Rampage’s record to 7-3-1-3 on the season. The final two games of the season are on Jan. 20 and 21 against the Terrace River Kings and the Quesnel Kangaroos at the Jim Ciccone Arena. Atchison said the team enjoyed the victory, but is focusing on finishing the season strong against the competition they’ll no doubt face in the playoffs.
“We just want the boys to go out and play like they did tonight and we’ll see what happens,” he said. “Right around the corner is the playoffs, and everyone is feeling everyone else out for the final run here.”