CONTRIBUTION · 6th February 2011
The Kitimat Ice Demons controlled 90 per cent of Saturday's opening game of the best of three CIHL West Division finals against Prince Rupert, but failed to capitalize on a barrage of shots and lost 3-2 to the Prince Rupert Rampage.
It was an uncharacteristic game for the Demons as they found the puck bouncing and rolling and could not set up their usual precise controlled-passing game. The Prince Rupert defense and Keith Movald, in goal, played a valiant game, but the difference was in opportunism as the Rampage seized on the opportunities presented to put the puck in the net.
A largely cleanly-played gave with a total of five minor penalties to the Rampage and four to the Ice Demons. It was a game of huge frustration for the Ice Demons, who had a great third period after dropping behind 3-1 in the second, as they could only claw one back in the 19 shot period.
At the other end of the ice the credit went to Movald and the Rampage defense, which probably blocked another dozen or more shots defending the goal as furiously as the Ice Demons were attacking it.
Ice Demons had a slow start to the game, but were much more offensive than the Rampage. Even with this Kitimat offense, Rupert went ahead 1-0 on a nicely scored goal by Chris Woodrow, who went in one on one, got around Jeff Mildenberger on defense, and lofted a shot over Jamie Moran in net.
Early in the second period Kitimatís Terry Whelan (Wade Masch) was in a position to slap a hard shot at the crush in front of Movald and got it through on a deflection to tie the game.
Greg Sheppard objected to Kitimatís Ian Coleman spraying snow on a hard stop in front of Movald and took the Ice Demons player hard into the corner after the whistle, resulting in a double roughing and unsportsmanlike penalty for Sheppard and a roughing for Coleman.
Demons pressed hard but did not capitalize on the power play. Shortly after Blaine Markwart was assessed a two minute boarding penalty, giving Rupert the man up. Chris Woodrow fought for a puck in the Demons' corner and got a pass across to Brett Stava who tipped it past Moran, to make it 2-1 on the power play.
With the Demons pressing hard for the equalizer, Keith Movald dropped awkwardly to cover up a puck in his crease and Sheppard, with a vicious cross-check, sent forward Craig Hewitson tumbling on top of Movald into the net. Movald took a long time to get up and with Kitimat again pressing its power play hard, the defence was caught pinching. Rupert got a good block that sent Kendall Stace-Smith and Johnnie hunt in on a shorthanded two-on-one. Moran stopped the initial shot from Stace-Smith but Hunt was right there to lift the rebound into the net.
This stunning turn of events sent the temperature up on the Ice Demons' bench going into the third period and thy pummelled the Rupert net with shots. But Movald held firm and the tiring defense blocked away numerous shots. Rupert did not get a shot in the period until the 12 minute mark when Colt Stava made Moran make a glove save on a shot from centre ice.
The pressure finally paid off for the Ice Demons when Wade Masch, pushed a Derek Wakita rebound over the line to get the Demons within one with 6.06 remaining in the period. Ben Rego also earned an assist.
As the play wore down and the clock became the enemy, the Ice Demons eventually pulled goaltender Moran and went with six attackers, but the Rupert held out, even getting five cracks at the empty net, three stopped by defenders and two missed and got called for icing.
It was a much frustrated Kitimat team and a jubilant Rampage team that shook hands, each looking forward, for different reasons to game two next Saturday, at 8pm in the Prince Rupert Jim Ciccione Arena.
The Demons are glad there are two more games in this 3 game Western CIHL series final and the Rampage will be looking forward to noisy support from the home crowd for game two.
Kitimat fans planning to travel are warned to try to book rooms early as the All Native Basketball Tournament finals will also be wrapping up in Rupert on Saturday, February 12th.