The Kitimat Ice Demons showed a lot of comeback heart in two hard-fought shoot-out wins on the road November 12 and 13, outlasting the Quesnel Kangaroos in Quesnel Saturday night by a final score of 9-8, with the game winning goal from Blaine Markwart on the first shot of the six man shoot-out.
The Demons gave the Omenica Ice a 4-1 head start, but chipped away at the lead to tie the game on the power play, with just 29 seconds left in the third period.
Then, to rub it in for the Ice, the Demons dug down to take the shoot-out win on a Jeff Mildenberger high shot the only one of four players from each team to make the solo rush.
Sunday’s was the fourth Demons game in the last five to go to the shoot-out to determine a result. It was all the more welcome as the Demons travelled with only nine forwards and five defensemen as injuries and work requirements both ate into the available roster for the road.
Coach Barry Boudreault had to juggle lines, play forwards on defense and rely on the long-time winning heart of the Demons to play a full 60 minutes in each game – then reach down for one more scoring shot.
In Quesnel, it was all the sweeter because, one week ago, it was the Kangaroos that came from behind then took two points in a shoot-out at Tamitik.
The Demons-Kangaroos match-up had been long anticipated in Quesnel and lived up to its hype, although both teams felt they played too loosely and gave up too many goals.
Missing veteran shooters Mayer and Hewitson up front and with Wade Masch filling in for injured David Venman on defense, the Demons were relying on a number of their brighter younger prospects – who showed up with good contributions in both games.
But the names on the score sheet for the Ice Demons were familiar with Josh Marsh (Mildenberger, Kyle Boudreault) giving the Demons an early lead against Quesnel, who bounced back quickly with three goals by Justin Grouette (Paul Girodat, Harley Gilks), Shawn Fulton (Rigby Bergaert, Gino Appalonia) and Paul Girodat (Joel Boyetchko, Chris Jenson) before Ian Coleman (Derek Wakita, Terry Whelan) made it 3-2 Quesnel at the first intermission.
In the second period, Girodat (Gilks, Boyetchko) added to the lead before Demons’ Blaine Markwart (Steve Venman, Jeff Mildenberger) and Terry Whelan (Wade Masch, Jeff Mildenberger) tightened up the score at 4-4 before Allessio Tomasetti put the Kangaroos ahead at exactly the 10 minute mark of the period. Bergart (Jensen, Tomasetti) gave the Kangaroos a 6-4 lead going into the third period.
Two goals in the first minute, the first by Terry Whelan (Mildenberger) at 36 seconds and a reply by Girodat (Boyetchko, Gilks) just 10 seconds later warned the fans that this barn burner would continue throughout.
It did, as Ian Coleman (Whelan and Boudreault) and Blaine Markwart, with his second of the game (Marsh and Mildenberger) tied the game at 7-7 and the fans were going crazy.
Then there was no scoring for nearly 10 minutes as both teams roughed it up and jammed the penalty boxes before Paul Girodat (J. MacDonald) gave the Kangaroos, what they hoped would be their last lead, at 8-7.
But that wasn’t to be as Josh Slanina tied the game at 8-8 with just three minutes left, assisted by Jacob Goncalves and Scottie McGregor).
With 19.31 gone Tomasetti was sent to the box for roughing but the referee quickly evened up the manpower by penalizing Blaine Markwart for holding just 20 second later and the game went to the shootout.
Markwart scored on the first shot and Jamie Moran stopped all three Quesnel shooters.
Defenseman Jeff Mildenberger had five assists in the game and was prominent again on Sunday.
In Fraser Lake against the Omenica Ice, the Ice Demons were a little slow off the mark after the barn burner Saturday and allowed the Ice to take a 1-0 lead after the first.
The Ice came on strong in the second and ran the score up to 4-1 ice midway through the second.
About that time the Demons decided it was time to get back to work, starting with a goalie change with Kollin Alderman taking over from Jamie Moran, who had a rough start after the tough time he was given by the Kangaroos in the crease the night before when Moran took two penalties.
The goal change certainly lit a fire under Kitimat – with a aid of some undisciplined play by the Ice – as they saw the 4-1 lead reduced to 4-3 at the second intermission.
Alderman was solid in net the rest of the way, not allowing a goal.
But it was late in the game, when the Ice took an ill-timed hooking penalty with under two minutes remaining. The Demons seized the opportunity, taking a number of good shots before the second line changed on the fly, and for the second night in a row, Josh Slanina scored the tying goal off a rebound off Paul Simoeswith just 26 ticks left on the clock to send the game to the shoot-out, and rob the Ice of two points.
Alderman stayed cool in net and stopped all four Ice shooters, Justin Bardarson, top scorer Tyrell Turgeon, second top scorer Dustin Erickson, and Rylan Stanyer.
At the other end, goaltender Paul Simoes stopped Josh Marsh, Blaine Markwart, and Wade Masch before Jeff Mildenberger beat him top shelf to mark a second big come from behind victory for the Demons in as many nights.
In other games on Saturday the Terrace River Kings doubled the Prince Rupert Rampage 4-2 on home ice, while the Williams Lake Stampeders, on the road, got back on the winning track with a 9-6 win over the Omenica Ice in Vanderhoof. Houston Luckies had a 4-0 lead over Hazelton in Houston when a power failure forced the end of the game.
On Sunday the Stampeders found the Kangaroos feeling sorry for themselves and put two points in their own pouch with a 6-5 win in regular time.
Meanwhile the Smithers Steeelheads stayed undefeated, halfway through the season, with a 12-5 win leaving the Steelheads at 8 wins no losses.