Jean-Luc Fournier leads the Prince Rupert Rampage off the ice in their 5-1 season-ending loss to Terrace on Friday.

Jean-Luc Fournier leads the Prince Rupert Rampage off the ice in their 5-1 season-ending loss to Terrace on Friday.

Rampage say goodbye to season

The Prince Rupert rampage suffered a 5-1 loss versus Terrace in their season-ending home game on Friday.

Well, they fixed their slow starts.

After a year full of being down early and having to claw their way back, the Prince Rupert Rampage had one of their best periods of the season during the first frame of their last game of the 2014-15 season versus the Terrace River Kings and led the division-leading River Kings 1-0 at the end of one.

While their start wasn’t the issue, their special teams were in a 5-1 loss on Friday night at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

“We had it going good in the first period … in the third we kind of let up for a couple minutes and that’s the game right there,” said defenceman Marcus Atchison after the game.

Jordan Weir opened the scoring on a banked-in rebound after a blistering Rampage shot dinged the post and Weir was able to collect the rebound for his career-high sixth goal of the season. Craig Munro and Ben Towner assisted.

The Rampage (2-13-1), as they often have, skated with the River Kings (13-2-0) shift for shift, but on one particular man-advantage for the home team, two defensive breakdowns led to two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill for Terrace in the third period to put the game out of reach for Rupert.

Terrace’s go-ahead 2-1 goal early in the third period was scored by a streaking Jordan Peddle after Rupert committed a giveaway on the powerplay.

Not a minute later and after furious shorthanded pressure by Terrace, Rupert’s Highway 16 rivals scored again on the Rampage’s starting netminder Devon Gerrits to make it 3-1.

Two more goals by Chapen Leblond and Corbin Legros ended the game for the River Kings and after a stellar first two periods with some fine lateral movement and quick lower-body pad saves, Gerrits was overwhelmed with the Terrace pressure in the third and made way for Jarrod Hildebrandt after the fifth goal against. Hildebrandt was solid the rest of the way including a couple sharp glove stops.

“We’ve got to work on more defensive coverage in practice and stuff like that,” said Atchison.

“We don’t get very many players out at practices so it’s just like how do you practice if you don’t have enough guys,” the defenceman said, adding the team has two scheduled weekly practices Monday and Thursday nights and dryland training Monday and Wednesday.

The power-play and penalty kill could use some extra work – something the team could rectify with more time spent on the special teams in practice.

“It’s definitely hard [to get a rhythm on special teams],” said Atchison.

The Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) is made up of mostly volunteer coaches and players so teams may experience a lack of consistent attendance based on player and staff employment or other duties they may have.

It’s something the team will have to address going forward into next year after finishing last in the league.

“We’ve just got to work harder as a team and get together more often,” said Atchison.

The game saw one of the season’s highest turnouts of fans on Friday and they were loud in the third frame, even as the season was winding down on their team.

“The fans are amazing here in Rupert. They come and show support at our games win or lose. It’s awesome,” said the d-man.

Just finishing his second year, Atchison is one of the most reliable and steady blueliners the Rampage have. He’s seen increased responsibility, often against the opposing team’s top lines and rarely takes a needless penalty.

“Just more confidence all around the ice,” he said about his elevated game.

Marcus came up through Prince Rupert’s midget ranks, just like a few other teammates. Even current players like Cole Atchison, Marcus’ brother, and Austin Weir, Jordan’s brother, are making an impact in the senior men’s league, not even able to vote yet.

“It’s not very often [kids come up that fast],” said Marcus.

“They’re just so good, they come up to play with us – Cole and Austin.”

Tyler Bates made his return to the squad after a few games away and with the core of the team returning next year, Marcus hopes the team will be even more competitive in the seasons to come.

“We’re a new team right now and we’re growing and we’re just starting out kind of. A lot of young players are coming up so in a couple years I think we’re going to have a solid team.”