REPORTING · 8th February 2010
The Kitimat Ice Demons survived a Saturday night 5-2 loss to the Smithers Steelheads and fought back to win, 3-2, in double overtime, on Sunday afternoon, to win the West Division final and advance to the CIHL playoff championship finals, starting next weekend in Williams Lake.
The Williams Lake Stampeders, after losing at home to the Houston Luckies, in the opening game of the East Division final, came back to win two on the road in Houston, 4-3 on Saturday and 3-1 on Sunday to eliminate the Luckies, winners of the East Division regular season title.
The Demons, defending CIHL champions, had defeated the Steelheads 3-2 in the opening game of the best of three Western Division finals in Smithers on January 30.
On Saturday the Ice Demons did not play with their usual efficiency and were outplayed and out-scored by a fast skating Smithers team that scored twice in the first period and three times in the second to take the win. Jamie Moran, the league’s best goaltender in the regular season, took the loss and was replaced mid-way through the second period by Brett Vilness. There was no further scoring in the game as the Steelheads played a good road game and protected their lead.
Moran, however, returned to the Kitimat net on Sunday afternoon and played an exceptional game, as did Tyler Perreault in the Steelheads’ net.
Saturday’s low-energy loss was the first for the Demons since last October in Williams Lake. Smithers opened the scoring at 13.32 in the first period on a goal by Stu Barnes (Ryan Devries, Dylan Becker) but the lead lasted only 46 seconds as Geoff Morgan tied the game from Nick Markowsky. But the Steelheads, with fewer than three minutes remaining in the period, scored a second goal on a shot straight down the middle by Ian Smith (Kellin Brown, Darryl Young) that eluded Moran.
Three goals in a six minute span in the second period by the Steelheads, including two in a row by Dan Dykens, and one, shorthanded, by Darryl Young, put the Ice Demons in a deep hole. Kitimat earned one goal back by Brandon Wakita before the end of the second period, while Vilness blanked the Steelheads for the rest of the game. However, after giving up the Wakita goal, Perreault also blanked the Ice Demons.
On Sunday, however, the Demons led by one goal twice in the game, opening the scoring in the first on a goal by Nick Markowsky (Jeff Mildenberger, Daniel Mayer). The Steelheads tied the game early in the second period on a goal by Dan Dykens (Stu Barnes, Matt Arnold). Demons regained the lead just under five minutes into the third period after Jeff Baker carried the puck down ice and eluded the defense with a spin move, getting the puck to Brandon Wakita, who beat Perreault.
The Ice Demons played a much better game Sunday, but allowed the Steelheads to tie the game on a power play goal by Stu Barnes, (Ryan Devries) midway through the period.
However the Demons seems to be coming on as the period wound down and Smithers managed only six shots in the period. In the first overtime period, both teams had some good opportunities, but the Demons picked up the pace, out-shooting the Steelheads 11-6, but both goaltenders were dominant.
Early in the second overtime, Smithers' Joe Karpinski had a breakaway, in alone on Moran, but was stopped and on the next foray down the ice Mildenberger sent Brandon Wakita and Jonnie Aiken in on a two-on-one, which was executed perfectly as Aiken deflected Wakita’s pass behind Perreault cleanly to win the game.