The Kitimat Ice Demons strayed from their game plan and it cost them the game as the Smithers Steelheads’ power play clicked into gear, and Ian Smith added a penalty shot goal and a five-on-five goal in the first for a 4-1 final score to take game one of the best of three CIHL semi-finals at Tamitik arena Saturday.
The Ice Demons, despite out-shooting the Steelheads, had the usual trouble getting the puck behind goaltender Mike Wall, who made some exceptional saves, playing with a lead from the mid-way point of the opening period.
The Demons passing game looked hesitant and the Steelheads played a good road game, taking the lead on a goal by Ian Smith, his first of three on the night and with five minutes gone in the second, Smith split the defence on a seagull move at the line and Jordan Goncalves was forced to pull him down. Smith was good with the shot beating goaltender Tommy Mildenberger low on the stick side to give Smithers a 2-0 lead.
On a hard Demons’ drive to the net, Terry Whelan collided with Mike Wall in the Smithers crease and drew a goaltender interference penalty. He was jumped by Adam Devries and got a second roughing minor for defending himself.
The Demons held the fort on this shorthanded situation and with under two minutes remaining Brandon Wakita got the Ice Demons back into the game, beating Wall from his left side of the net with assists to Jeff Baker and Derek Wakita.
Demons carried the momentum into the third period but found the Smithers defence blocking shots and keeping the offence to the outside well. Wall was looking after the issues around the net and again showed some great agility snuffing a couple of great Kitimat opportunities.
With less than six minutes to go the Demons’ Dan Jerret drew a solo interference penalty and the Smithers power play tallied again, a minute into the penalty, with Smith getting his hat trick (Adam Devries, Darryl Young).
The Demons tried to regain their momentum and an interference call to Spence Brooks at 17:12 of the third seemed to open a door but again the mobile sticks of the defence and Wall’s excellent goaltending snuffed out the opportunity and Smithers took their 4-1 win back to Smithers, where game two goes at 8.00 p.m. Saturday night.
The Ice Demons will need a cooler but more energetic effort, with fewer trips to the penalty box to get to a second chance Sunday.