CONTRIBUTION · 26th January 2011
The Kitimat Ice Demons took the brunt of penalties, but used a puck-control game and a hard fore check to earn two short-handed goals to beat the Terrace River Kings 5-3, Saturday, in the first game of the CIHL West Division quarter finals playoffs.
The Terrace River Kings threw their most aggressive game of the season at the Ice Demons, and held manpower advantages numerous times, but were unable to get back a lead they held early in the game, 39 second in to be exact, when a Kyle Leblond point shot got a good deflection from deflection Garret Kerr, to beat Jamie Moran in the Demons' goal.
But the promising start held up only for 10 minutes before The Ice Demons tied on a nice hard shot goal by Terry Whelan, assisted by Kory Finn. It looked like the opening frame would end in a tie, but with just a minute left, a hard point shot by Wade Masch, off a Craig Hewitson feed was deflected behind Craig Walsh (in the Terrace goal) by Ian Coleman and the frustrated Terrace team went to the intermission down a goal. The penalty-filled first period saw Terrace take eight minutes on four minor penalties and the Demons were assessed 10 minutes in five minors
In the second period, Demons went up 3-1 very early in the second, this time with only 29 second gone, when Terry Whelan returned the first period favour for Kory Finn when his hard shot dropped in the crease and Finn quickly knocked it into the net.
The trips to the box were quite different in the second as Terrace was assessed only one minor penalty to Toby Mitchell for roughing after the whistle while the Demons sat six minutes on three penalties. Both teams lost a player to fighting as Dave Anthony and Kyle Leblond exchanged blows in a post-whistle scrum behind the River Kings' net. Both were ejected from the game.
Terrace got a goal closer with just under five minutes gone in the period when Tristan Murray finally got a puck behind Jamie Moran with assists to Josh Murray and Steve Cullis - but again, as the period was running down, Kitimat got the short-handed goal to restore the two goal lead. Again, the Demons were under-manned on the ice, with Ian Coleman in the box for a trip with 37 seconds remaining. A hard fore check by penalty killer Craig Hewitson, saw Terrace almost turn over the puck three feet in front of Walsh, but the defence got the puck back and was lugging it up ice when Hewitson caught up and lifted the stick atoretrieved the puck. He passed to Jeff Mildenberger who slid it back to Hewitson to the left of Walsh, and unleashed a rising rocket into the top of the net, with just five seconds left on the clock.
The goal did not kill the Terrace effort to get back into the game and the officiating seemed to be going the River Kings way. The Demons took three additional minor penalties in the middle part of the period giving Terrace their best chance to get the score closer.
An un-penalized cross check on Kitimat goaltender Jamie Moran led to a fight between David Venman and Terrace's Nathan Soucie, resulting in both being ejected from the game with 3.23 remaining. Just 45 second later a pair of slashes involving King's Toby Mitchell and Craig Hewitson of the Demons, led to a centre ice brouhaha that saw Mitchell ejected for fighting and Hewitson assessed a double minor for slashing and roughing. Both left the ice.
With just 1.11 remaining however, Terrace scrambled a third goal by Josh Murray (David Tooms, Chris Brown) and were then presented with a great opportunity to tie the game. That was rudely closed out after Kitimat's Jeff Baker intercepted a missed pass and went in to roof the puck for the insurance goal for Kitimat.
The two teams get together again for the second clash of the playoffs at 8.00 p.m. Saturday, Jan 29, with a third game, if needed, on Sunday Jan 30, at 1.00 p.m.
In other playoff games, West Division leaders, Prince Rupert Rampage, got the better of bottom-dwellers, Hazelton Wolverines, 9-5, and in the East the Smithers Steelheads won 3-0 over the Houston Luckies, while the Williams Lake Stampeders, taking on the Burns Lake Braves on the road, survived a two-goal third period rally by the Braves to win, 6-5.
These series resume in Williams Lake and Smithers this coming weekend.