The Prince Rupert Rampage, who clinched first place in the CIHL western conference with back-to-back wins over the Houston Luckies last week, hit the highway on Saturday to open their playoff series against the Hazelton Wolverines in what turned out to be a high scoring game.
Prince Rupert wasted no time getting on the board as regular season scoring leader Rob Millar put one past netminder Cody Smith just 12 seconds into the first period. But the quick goal seemed to fire up the Wolverines as Louis Parent put one past Rampage goalie Keith Movold with 16:56 to play to tie things at one and Hazelton would take the lead off a goal by Phil Morrison with 9:06 to play. With time winding down, Brett Stava found the back of the net with just 1:43 to play in the first and the two teams would head to locker room even at two through 20 minutes.
Early in the second it would be the Stava brothers lighting the lamp for Rupert, with Brett scoring his second of the game just under three minutes in and Colt giving the Rampage the two goal lead just 5:01 into the period. Chris Woodrow extend the lead to three with a goal with 12:36 to play, but Travis Beebe would respond just three minutes later to pull Hazelton back within striking distance. The Rampage were determined not to let the game get any closer, as Johnathan Hunt regained the three goal lead with 7:23 to play and Kendall Stace-Smith gave the visitors a four-goal lead with 5:56 to play. Mitchell Marhsall of Hazelton would respond just three minutes later, but with 25 seconds left on the clock Millar would score again to give the Rampage a four goal lead and bring an end to a period that saw eight goals scored over the course of 20 minutes.
Trailing 8-4 it was the Wolverines who opened the scoring in the third with Allan Tolmie beating Movold with 13:57 to play. The final goal of the game was the nail in the coffin for the Wolverines as Greg Sheppard beat Smith with 9:49 to play. And when the final buzzer sounded the Rampage enjoyed a 9-5 victory that will see them come back to the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Area leading the best-of-three series 1-0.
The puck drops for the second game of the series Saturday night at eight p.m. If needed, game three of the series will take place on Sunday at one p.m.
In other CIHL playoff
action from Saturday, the Kitimat Ice Demons found success on the road, beating the Terrace River Kings 5-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the other western conference playoff match-up.
In the eastern conference, the Smithers Steelheads defeated the Houston Luckies 3-0 and the Williams Lake Stampeders defeated Burns Lake Braves 6-5 to lead 1-0 in their respective series.