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CONTRIBUTION · 22nd February 2010
Allan Hewitson
Stampeders continue the sweep – but it was close for a long time as Ice Demons stymied by MVP Foote

The CIHL has a new champion – the Williams Lake Stampeders – as they followed up their embarrassing 12-2 win in Williams Lake a week ago with a 6-1 defeat of the Kitimat Ice Demons in the second game of the league final playoff Saturday night.

Although the Demons rolled over and gave up three quick late goals in a three minute span in the third period, this game hinged on two critical points – the first; a Kitimat clearance that hit referee Chris Daniels in the leg and dropped in front of two Williams Lake skaters, who went in two-zero on Kitimat goaltender, Jamie Moran. The Williams Lake Stampeders have not squandered any opportunities like that in these playoffs and Dan Girodat put Stu Sasges cross behind Moran to make the game 2-0 for Williams Lake.

It was a bit against the run of play, as the Ice Demons, unrecognizable from the week before, were pressuring goaltender Justin Foote and the Stamps defense for shift after shift, after Robin Gilbert gave the team a one goal lead in the first that held up for more than a period until the Girodat goal.

That goal, just a minute into the second period, seemed to energize the Demons who poured 17 shots at Foote in the second period, while Moran handled only nine shots. But Foote was writing his own story with some terrific stops, with the Stamps’ defense getting into shooting lanes and blocking shots, sending waves of frustration through the Kitimat fans. Although the Demons were getting in they couldn’t get past Foote.

That was the way the game went with the score still 2-1 and Kitimat pressuring into the start of the third. However, a defensive turnover at 12 minutes into the period allowed Stuart Sasges and Nathan Zurak a two on one opportunity and they beat Moran.

The goal gave the Stamps a boost and deflated the Demons who had seen so much effort go unrewarded. The boost was better than the deflation as the Stamps pressed their momentum advantage and popped another quick one, the result of another take-out in the Demons’ zone and Dustin Erickson scored to make it 4-2. That deepened the deflation and as the Demons tried to rally, a charging penalty to Terry Whelan, trying to rally the troops with a big centre ice hit, backfired as the Stampeders scored a power play goal on a typical Williams Lake passing play, finished off by Sasges, with his second of the game.

Playoffs scoring star, Wilfred Robbins finally got on the board as the disconsolate Demons could not get re-energized. With the score at 6-1 and the dream of another championship faded, Kitimat defender Geoff Moran dropped the gloves with Robin Gilbert for something that had been simmering and after a feisty joust, both were ejected.

Williams Lake then just played out the string in the third.

Stampeders coach selected Justin Foote as MVP for the CIHL playoffs and awarded him the league trophy and the Rio Tinto Alcan Cup was presented to Stampeders' captain Aaron Zurak by Allan Hewitson, president of the Central Interior Hockey League.

The two teams will advance to the B.C. Senior men’s championships, the Coy Cup, which opens in Powell River, B.C. on March 16, and also features the home town Regals, as host, and the Mid-Island Blazers, from Campbell River, representing Vancouver Island.

Kitimat coaching tandem, Danny Baker and Craig Hewitson, reminded the players after the game that the Ice Demons eliminated the Stampeders a year ago in the CIHL finals, but lost twice to the Williams Lake squad in the Coy Cup in Terrace. “Turn about is fair play,” said Hewitson. “We’ve got nearly a month to get the bruises and bumps cleared up, re-energize the team and do it to them in Powell River.”