The game was a little indicative of the Prince Rupert Rampage’s entire 2014-15 campaign.
Get behind early, claw their way back to within a goal or two and then take a few bad penalties to ice the game for the opposing team.
So it went for the Rampage last weekend, playing the No. 1 team in the West division, Terrace River Kings, who defeated Rupert 6-5 on Friday in Terrace and then 6-2 on Saturday night in Prince Rupert.
The rhinos could skate with them. There hasn’t been a team they’ve faced where they couldn’t hang around and cause some damage. But some dumb mistakes and untimely penalties cost the home side the win and ultimately, their season.
With one game remaining in their Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) season, a rematch against the River Kings (12-2-0) at home next Friday night, the Rampage (2-12-1) will reflect on their lost campaign and play a little more for each other rather than for points in the standings, now being officially eliminated from the playoffs.
“Just go out with a bang, that’s all you can do,” said rhinos forward Craig Munro.
“That’s the problem, is we don’t start off properly. It takes us awhile to get into the game. If we start off 100 per cent, there’s no team that can beat us.”
Saturday’s contest had some encouraging signs early. A 0-0 deadlock until the 13-minute mark of the first period had the Rampage matching the powerful River Kings stride for stride, but a shorthanded goal from Luke Gordon deflated the home team. Jordan Peddle followed that up with a marker of his own with under two minutes to play in the first to put the River Kings ahead 2-0 with his 17th goal in only eight games for Terrace.
The second frame was highlighted by a scary incident in which Terrace’s Tristan Murray was hit in the throat area by a loose shot but later returned to the game.
Skylar Andrews notched another goal for the visitors when he streaked across the middle of the ice and sniped a shot past the glove of Rampage netminder Devon Gerrits.
Rhinos forward Jordan Weir got the crowd into it with a goal as his shot hit a couple sticks and fluttered into the open cage with River Kings’ goalie Patrick Leal out of position, tying his season-high in goals with five.
But two more goals from Gordon and Brian Lomas during an extended power-play thanks to a scrap involving Armand Powell and Terrace’s Calen Findlay gave Terrace the insurmountable 5-1 lead.
Findlay got in the way of Powell going to the bench for a line change and Powell took exception and was given a game misconduct for his instigating efforts.
“Horrible call,” said Rampage manager Ron German.
“If they’re going to [fight], let them go and get rid of both of them but I think we got screwed on that. They got two goals off that power-play and it’s a pretty tough way to lose. I think we still had momentum there.”
A spinning and firing Jared Meers made the game 5-2 but Corbin Legros topped the game off with a slapshot from beneath the blueline and iced the win for Terrace at 6-2.
“They’re a great team and you can’t make any mistakes against them … They’re number one in the [West] but we were right there,” added German.
“I think when we weren’t short [players] we played a great game … It’s just the same thing this whole season – a chip here, a chip there that’s not going our way.”
During Friday’s 6-5 loss, the Rupert squad gave the River Kings a 6-1 lead after one period, but to their credit, fought all the way back to within a goal.
“They’re trying to hold it together … Friday night’s game in Terrace [after trailing 6-1] they didn’t stick their heads in the sand and quit; they turned it on and battled back as a team,” said the manager.
German added the team is playing without Jordan Aubee, who’s moved, Mike Coolin, who suffered a broken collarbone earlier and perhaps most notably, Tyler Bates who was out of town for the weekend.
Bates, along with Meers, Munro, Weir and Kory Movold have been the team’s most consistent scorers.
Despite the rough year however, Munro is finding comfort in being able to play with friends on a regular basis.
“It’s always fun,” said the forward.
“It’s just about getting out there and playing. You can’t beat it.”
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Lac La Hache-Williams Lake game due last Saturday night was rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 9.
Lac La Hache has been eliminated from the playoffs as Williams Lake and Quesnel both locked up their tickets by placing in the top two spots in the East division. Terrace and Smithers are in from the West.