CONTRIBUTION · 14th January 2011
The Prince Rupert Rampage brought their noisy fans to Tamitik and didn't disappoint them, coming from behind in a 2-0 deficit to win 6-3. Ice Demons fans will feel that is one the team let slip away, having a comfortable advantage in shots and scoring opportunities. However, a stingy, stubborn defence, a hot goaltender in Keith Movald and a few good opportunities was all the Rampage needed to help them take over first place in the CIHL West Division with the win.
It didn't look like it was going to be a fun night in the first period when the noisy Rupert fans were silenced by a two goal lead for the Ice Demons on goals by Ian Coleman (Blaine Markwart, Craig Hewitson), just 4.30 into the period and by Wade Masch (Jeff Baker) just two minutes later. But it was evident that Movald was seeing a lot of the pucks as he stopped 11 of the 13 shots that got through to the net, while his defence b locked a number more. Things went wrong for the Ice Demons as they continued to try and find ways to beat Movald.
At the start of a power play just past the point of the period (with Abel Verde in the box for holding) Demons lost the draw and Colt Stava saw a chance to dash down the ice with the puck, getting behind the defence. Craig Hewitson got back to prevent a pass out to another Rampage player, so Stava leaned into a shot that just blazed into the top corner over Vilness's right shoulder. Rob Millar earned an assist on the play. Demons came very close in the rest of the power play to regaining the two goal lead, but it just didn't happen as Movald continued to stone them. The Rampage seemed satisfied that it was only 2-1 at the end of the first.
Kitimat continued pounding away at the Rampage goal in the second with a barrage of 16 shots , including a short two man advantage, but the defence really helped out. Vilness seemed to get cold at the other end through inactivity, facing only four shots in the period, but Rob Millar got one behind him (Derek Baker, Chris Woodrow) - so surprisingly, the teams were tied going to the dressing rooms for the second intermission.
The wheels seemed to come off for the Demons in the third, with the Rampage playing more offensive hockey and it paid off when Abel Verde launched a looper from the mid-board area in the Demons' end that seemed to drop into a space over Vilness's left shoulder and dropped into the net, probably surprising both teams, but giving the Rampage a 3-2 lead a bit against the run of the play. But it gave the Rampage fans a big opportunity to make a lot of noise and the team responded. Chris Woodrow was the recipient of some good passing by Kendall Stace-Smith and Rob Miller and slid a low shot into the Demons net in a scramble in front to make it 4-2 at the 11.52 mark of the third.
It looked very much like it would be game on as the Ice Demons responded by finding the way round Movald as Jeff Mildenberger and Craig Hewitson seemed to have the puck on a string in a tic-tac-to sequence that was finished off by a score from Ian Coleman, just exactly two minutes after the Woodrow goal.
But the Rampage weren't finished either because, just 17 seconds after the face off, with a seemingly empty zone and the Demons initiating a breakout, Brett Stava cleanly intercepted a cross ice pass from the defence and quickly moved in on Vilness to restore the two goal lead, at 5-3.
With six minutes left in the game Demons tried hard to come back, but the Rampage had momentum and just after Brett Vilness left two net for an extra attacker, Brett Stava sent Chris Woodrow in on the empty net for the easy sixth goal. Shots in the third were 10 for each team, but the Rampage outscored the Demons 4-1 in the period.
The two points allowed Rupert to move ahead of the Ice Demons into first place in the Division, with 18 points, while the Terrace River Kings moved stayed in third, two points behind the Demons, with a 7-4 win over the Hazelton Wolverines in Hazelton.
Terrace has one more game to play, hosting the Wolverines next week, while the Rampage and Demons both play host to cross-division teams from the east. Kitimat will play two games at home against Burns Lake Braves while Rampage will do the same against the Houston Luckies. These games will help determine uncertain playoff positions in both divisions as well as games between Williams Lake and the league-leading Smithers Steelheads in Williams Lake.
In other games this on Saturday, the Burns Lake Braves outlasted the Houston Luckies 5-3, in a nail biter while the Smithers Steelheads defeated East Division bottom-dwellers, Omineca Ice 10-4, to firm up their lead in the East standings.