The Rampage’s strong push toward the post-season continued on Jan. 20, as the team secured an impressive 8-5 victory over the River Kings at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre arena.
“That was a good home win for us against Terrace,” said Prince Rupert’s head coach Roger Atchison. “That’s a good team over there. It could have gone either way, we just ended up on top so we’ll take it.”
Both teams entered the game looking to build momentum for the playoffs, and played with intensity right from the start.
In a physical opening period that saw both teams combine for 11 penalties and seven goals, it was the River Kings who held a 4-3 advantage off of goals scored by Colten Braio, Luke Gordon and two by Luke Walker.
The River Kings were able to convert on two-of-six power play opportunities as the Rampage spent 23 minutes inside the penalty box, and Randal Groot was ejected from the game after instigating a fight. The River Kings also scored a shorthanded goal after Ryan Roseboom stole the puck at mid-ice and set up Luke Gordon for the score.
Atchison said the team did well to respond to the early adversity and stay in the game.
“It could have gotten ugly in the first there, but we battled,” he said. “It was just a lot of special teams right off the bat, and their short-handed kind of put us on our heels. Hats off to the guys, they kinda stuck with it and didn’t roll over.”
The Rampage were able to match the River King’s goals with scores from Cole Atchison, off the assist from Cody Hodges at the 2:07 mark, Mike Keyes, who was set up by Jean-Luc Fournier and Kory Movold, and Jacob Santurbano, who was assisted by Tyler Ostrom and Tyler Matalone.
Prince Rupert players were able to take control of the game in the second period, holding the River Kings scoreless despite committing four penalties, including another misconduct. Jordan Weir scored an unassisted goal at the 7:43 mark of the period to tie the game before Movold gave the Rampage a one-goal lead off the setup by Jared Meers and Fournier.
Tyler Matalone scored early in the third period to give the Rampage a two-goal cushion. The River Kings scored with less than five minutes left in the game to close the gap, but Atchison said he told his team to maintain its poise down the stretch.
“I told the guys ‘this team doesn’t stop,’” he said. “So we had to buckle down and keep going.”
Matalone scored twice more, the first off the assist from Fournier and Jordan Venditelli and the second an empty-netter with less than a minute left to wrap up the game.
The Rampage play the Quesnel Kangaroos at 1:00 p.m. on Jan. 21. While a win would tie them with the River Kings for first in the CIHL standings, the Rampage would finish second due to the River Kings holding the tiebreaker for more games won. Atchison said he is not concerned about where his team finishes as long they can maintain their current level of play into the playoffs.
“I just need this group to stay on a roll,” he said. “We just want to keep pushing this along and play as well as we can.”