The Smithers Steelheads, 2011-12 seqson CIHL league and playoff champs and the defending Coy Cup champions, the Kitimat Ice Demons emerged victors in the opening two games of the Coy Cup in Kitimat Tuesday night, both recording shut-outs.
Jamie Moran had a well-earned shutout in net for the Ice Demons, who took some time to get their playing legs under them after five weeks out of competition, to blank the Williams Lake Stampeders, 2-0.
The Ice Demons showed some rust at the beginning but Williams Lake could not capitalize as Moran appeared to be in late Coy Cup form early and made some amazing saves look routine.
However, the first period ended scoreless with each team directing 11 shots at the other goaltender.
Williams Lake, in a fairly hit free skating game, took two unfortunate penalties in the second period and the Demons’ power play came through, with defender David Venman coming up the middle on a good, well-controlled puck pass-around to give the Demons the lead at 9.35, with an elusive ice level shot on a big Justin Foote rebound, with Tyler Fuller in the box for a slash… Assists went to Wade Masch and Brent Mailloux.
Ice Demons had the better of the play in the second period as they began to get used to the pace of play…but Moran was seeing everything in the third and left the Stamps feeling very frustrated on continuous foays in the Demons’ end.
Blaine Markwart, as he so often does, cemented the win with an unassisted empty net goal with 18 seconds left after the Stamps pulled Justin Foote for an extra attacker.
Brent McIsaac earned himself a cross-checking penalty after the play trying to provoke big Kyle Madsen into a scrap, but Madsen didn’t oblige, smiling broadly. It looked as if McIsaac was looking for retribution on a big Madsen hit of Nathan Zurak.
Demon centre Terry Whelan and Stamps Matt Lees were also ejected before the face off after some pushing and shoving in front of the refs. But it was all academic, with 18 seconds left and a Demons face-off win having led to the Markwart empty netter. The winger tripped going over the blue line but was able to direct the shot cleanly into the empty net.
Demons actually out-shot the Stamps 33-29.
Ice Demons play the Quesnel Kangaroos at 8.00 p.m. tonight.
In the opening game, the Steelheads controlled the puck well throughout and scored twice on the power play and one shorthanded to blank the Quesnel Kangaroos 5-0, with Mike Wall recording the shut-out.
The Kangaroos had difficulty with team discipline taking too many unnecessary penalties, taking nine minors — but after holding Smithers to a 0-0 first period, gave up two to the Steelheads one on the power play and one shorthanded, in the first three minutes of the second period, with both goals going to Randall Groot.
The first came on a point shot with a two man advantage, just 28 seconds into the period. Groot’s slap shot beat Manderson cleanly and assists went to Ryan Devries and Spencer Brooks. The second Groot goal, the short-handed marker, three minutes later, was a tap in from a Darryl Young rebound, as the power play turned over with Steelies’ Matt Arnold in the box for tripping.
Adam Devries added a goal before the end of the third period (Spencer Brooks, Stu Barnes) and Mark Arnold (Tyler Pedersen and Ian Smith) helped salt it away in the third and Spencer Brooks had his third point of the game on an unassisted foray into the Quesnel end finished off with a sliding deke that Manderson could not find.
Quesnel’s tough play seemed to stifle the Steelheads in the opening period but discipline with poor and they took far too many needless penalties allowing the Steelheads a bit of a freebie going to the second game of the round robin, where they will meet the Williams Lake Stampeders in the early game, 5 p.m. today.
Shots were 28 Steelheads and 30 for the ‘roos who had a strong first but found the Wall at the front end of their best shots. They had narrow misses with Wall and the defense scrambling on a couple of early goal crease scrums.