Jordan Weir scored three straight goals for a natural hat trick to lead the Prince Rupert Rampage to a 4-2 win over the Smithers Steelheads in the CIHL season opener on Saturday at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
“I feel great, but it was more of a team effort. Our goalie was buzzing and it was just fun to come back out. It’s my first year back in five,” Weir said.
Rupert found themselves in tough early as captain Kory Movold landed in the penalty box 49 seconds into the game for hooking. The Rampage managed to kill off the penalty and then Weir stole the show.
Weir scored twice in the first period giving the Rampage a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Brendan Devries, a former Rampage player, scored the first goal of the Steelhead’s season six minutes into the second period. Randall Groot, another former Rampage player, who is now the captain of the Smithers’ team picked up the assist along with Niko Clarke.
With only one goal needed to tie the game, the Steelheads were pressing early in the second but Weir finished of the natural hat trick with his final goal of the night just two minutes later on a feed from Wade Cline and Judd Repole.
Rampage goalie Kieran Sharpe managed to hold the Steelheads off the scoresheet including turning away a penalty shot late in the second period.
Midway into the third period, Rampage assistant captain, Jacob Santurbano picked up a two-minute interference penalty that allowed the two former Rupert players turned-Steelheads to close the deficit to one by assisting on a powerplay goal by Clarke.
Trailing 3-2 late in the third, the Steelheads pulled their goaltender but the Rampage’s Jeremy Boot slid the puck into an empty net with less than a minute left on the clock and putting the game away for Prince Rupert.
The Jim Ciccone Arena was jam-packed with spectators, some who had driven down from Smithers to witness the Steelheads’ first game back in two years since folding after the 2016-17 season.
Rampage coach Roger Atchison said the game was a great start to the season. Atchison said he is not worried about the Rampage’s winning prospects this season despite the two new teams (Hazelton being the other) added to the CIHL roster.
“Having two new teams is great for the year, and anyone can beat anyone so we just got to be prepared,” he said.
The Steelheads come into the season with about a half-and-half mix of new players and returning players from the previous team.
“It’s always tough to swallow a loss but there are some things we can be proud of there. We played pretty hard and we were in the game the whole time. It was a little sloppy there, but we fought through,” said Groot, captain of the Steelheads.
Groot said he was glad their first game was away from their home ice.
“It was better because we could just focus on the guys in the room and not have any distractions so it actually worked out pretty good. Even though we lost there’s some positives to take out of it. It’s a long season and we will build.”
The two teams will next meet on Smithers’ home ice on Oct. 26.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter