Despite holding a 3-0 lead over the Terrace River Kings after one period, the Rupert Rampage fell to their Highway 16 rival 5-4 in double overtime on Saturday night at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
The collapse showcased what could have been two different Rampage teams — the first period team that dominated, and the team from the rest of the game that looked a little bit lost.
In the end, it was special teams that decided this one. Terrace scored an alarming five powerplay goals, revealing a Rampage weakness. The rhinos came into the game last in the league in penalty kill, at 84.62 per cent. Even more concerning is that the River Kings had an abysmal 2.94 per cent powerplay conversion rate going in — the team had scored only one powerplay goal all season before Saturday night.
“We played five on five well, but our powerplay was awful and our penalty killing wasn’t the greatest either,” said general manager Ron German after the game.
Players were visibly frustrated after a game that looked like the Rampage were headed for a third straight win. But penalty trouble did them in and that’s what the team really needs to work on, with two road trips coming up.
“We need to work on staying out of the penalty box and getting our powerplay together,” German said.
Although goaltender Brett Roth allowed five goals, he isn’t to blame for the loss, German said. In fact, he kept the Rampage in the game.
“Our goalie played phenomenal tonight and we can’t put this on him. He robbed them quite a few times,” he said.
Roth did make quite a number of outstanding saves throughout the game, especially in the second when the River Kings were constantly challenging him.
Things started out well for the Rampage in front of its enthusiastic home crowd. Jordan Aubee scored his first goal of the year just over a minute into the game to give Rupert the lead.
Kory Movold also scored his first a few minutes later. Ryan Stace-Smith added a powerplay marker later in the period to give the Rampage a 3-0 lead.
The team was a dominant force in the first 20 minutes. The Rampage was all over the puck, creating turnovers and capitalizing on its opportunities.
But everything changed in the second period. Terrace’s Luke Walker scored a pair of identical goals in the first five minutes— a one-timer into the open left side of the net that Roth had no chance on. The goalie was fired up about the second one, telling referees the River Kings were offside but to no result.
Movold scored his second of the game just 23 seconds later to make it 4-2, but Ben Reinbolt put in his fourth goal of the year to pull Terrace back within one.
Roth was busy throughout this period, making plenty of saves, including one where he stretched his stick out to block a puck that was certainly going into the wide-open net.
The third period didn’t start out any better for the Rampage. Tristan Murray scored for the River Kings just over a minute into the frame to tie the game at 4-4. Both teams had opportunities, but whether it was a great save or hitting a crossbar, this game was heading to overtime, the first Rupert game that required extra time since Jan. 9.
The problem for the Rampage happened with a penalty taken by Marcus Atchison with five seconds left in first overtime. As a result, Terrace had a 4-on-3 advantage for 1:55 in the second overtime, but it wouldn’t need that much.
Chapen Leblond put the puck past Roth to complete the comeback and hand the Rampage the 5-4 loss.
Rupert remains in third place in the league, with nine points. A big weekend lies ahead for them. The team will head east to take on Williams Lake and Quesnel.