There was no comeback needed at Tamitik Arena Saturday, February 4 as the Terrace River kings achieved their first-ever first round sweep of old rivals the Kitimat Ice Demons, winning the second game of the first round CIHL playoffs, 4-1.
Terrace had earlier come from behind to edge the Ice Demons 5-4 in Terrace, to take away the home ice advantage.
Despite a wide margin in the game play and shots on goal, the Ice Demons could not get the breakthrough they needed, as the River Kings blocked shots and saw goaltender Patrick Leal hold the fort with a 3-1 lead, until the Demons were forced to pull goaltender Jamie Moran, with just over a minute left in the game and Tristan Murray got a an interception allowing him an easy empty net goal to complete the sweep.
Over 1,000 fans in Kitimat saw the two rival teams battle it out to a bitter end for Kitimat as the team just could not seem to find their rhythm or their usual game command as time ticked down.
Full credit is due to the Terrace defense which was effectively on the run for most of the second and third periods, but carried a two-goal lead into the final period on markers from Cameron Kerr, who tipped a David Tooms shot behind Moran with just under nine minutes gone in the first period, and Steve Cullis, (Josh Murray, Jeremy Van Den Broek) who deflected an insurance power-play goal into the Kitimat net three minutes into the second, with Jeff Mildenberger in the box for holding.
After that it was all Kitimat but they couldn’t get the puck behind Leal in the second, with shots at eight to five in favour of Kitimat.
In the third, an unfortunate tumble behind the net by Jamie Moran allowed Cullis to dump a behind-the-net pass out from Tristan Murray into the net before Moran could react.
Down 3-0, the Demons responded with a furious attack, getting 18 shots on goal as Terrace simply defended. The Demons got one back with four minutes left when – finally – a rebound went the right way, into the net, off Jonnie Aiken on a shot from Dave Venman. A second assist went to Wade Masch.
The Demons did everything but score in the third – hit posts, crossbars, saw shots deflected as the Terrace defnse was heroic in blocking shots.
With Moran pulled for an extra attacker, Dave Venman saw a puck slip off his stick to Tristan Murray who went down ice to score in the empty net.
For the Ice Demons it was the first time they have been eliminated in the first round since they were formed in 2002 – and for Terrace the weekend results in an advancement into the second round to face undefeated Smithers Steelheads, who dispatched a shorthanded Prince Rupert team 10-2.
Williams Lake, after dropping game one in Houston, won both home games to advance against Quesnel Kangaroos, who won last week in Lac La Hache and dispatched the Tomahawks in two games winning at home, 8-5.