The Prince Rupert Rampage advanced to the second round of the playoffs and simultaneously eliminated the Kitimat Ice Demons with an overpowering 9-3 win at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Friday night.
A game that was fairly tight after two periods, despite the Rampage clearly dominating the second period, the home team exploded for five goals in the third to send Kitimat packing after an 0-18 season overall.
Ryan Stace-Smith and Kory Movold scored a pair of goals each to power the Rampage, who will face the Terrace River Kings in the next round.
“We just didn’t want to give up. We can’t blow a lead like that and then evidently have to play tomorrow so we came out hard,” Stace-Smith afterwards.
It was a physical game, with both teams throwing hard hits from the first puck drop. The teams combined for 15 penalties and there was no love lost between them.
“That’s playoff hockey. We love it, they love it so it’s all good,” he said.
Stace-Smith said a big factor for the Rampage success was crashing the net and getting lots of shots from the point.
The first period wasn’t the best period for Rupert, even though they struck first on a goal by Tom Robinson that made its way past a screened Shahar Moudahi.
Kitimat responded quickly less than two minutes later on a goal by Terry Whelan.
Late in the period, Tyler Halliday fought his way around several players to tuck it in the net for the 2-1 lead.
But then the Rampage got into some penalty trouble with Jacob Santurbano, Ryan Stace-Smith and Jared Meers each taking time in the box.
The Ice Demons converted on the powerplay with a goal over the diving Brett Roth to tie the game 2-2.
In the middle period, the Rampage kicked up their play. Stace-Smith scored on a nice pass from Halliday to give them the lead back, which they wouldn’t relinquish again.
The Ice Demons looked overpowered in the final two periods as Rupert got scoring chance after scoring chance. Stace-Smith added his second goal late in the second to take a 4-2 lead.
In the third, the rhinos took it to another level with four goals in just over four minutes to really take command.
Kory Movold scored a pair fifteen seconds apart, then Ben Towner joined the fun when Jared Carter found him in front of the net alone, and Kale Burns scored a backhand goal on the breakaway.
Craig Munro also scored in the last two minutes after Steven Venman scored the last goal of the season for Kitimat.
The convincing win moves the Rampage on to face Terrace, which hasn’t played a game since Jan. 29.
“We have to work on our breakout. We got pinched a couple times and Terrace is a strong team so we got to move that momentum forward,” Stace-Smith said.
But does the Rampage have what it takes to beat Terrace?
“We got ‘er,” he said with a confident smile.