The Kitimat Ice Demons continued their up and down season with a satisfying 4-3 win over long-time rivals the Williams Lake Stampeders on Saturday night in Williams Lake but started slowly, went through both goaltenders and suffered a devastating 10-2 loss in Quesnel to the Kangaroos on Sunday afternoon.
However, the Demons managed to hold on to first place in the CIHL West Division with 15 points from their 13 games in the tightening division standings. The season schedule has resulted in a surprising gap in the number of games played with Demons at 13 and the last place Terrace River Kings having played only seven games to date.
On Saturday, the Demons and Stamps exchanged early goals in the first period, with Jassi Sangha (Francis Johnson, Nathan Zurak) putting the Stamps into the lead at 5:07 on a power play (with Ben Rumley in the box for Kitimat on a hooking call) but within seconds of the face-off combined play from Josh Slanina to Jeff Mildenberger to Brandon Wakita promptly tied the game.
The Demons snatched the lead in the second period, with Terry Whelan scoring from Ben Rumley and Derek Wakita scoring the only goal of the period just after the eight minute mark. Into the third, on a power play of their own the line of Wade Masch, Terry Whelan and Derek Wakita combined to stretch the lead with Masch finishing the play to put the puck behind Justin Foote in the Stamps net. Jassi Sangha was in the box for a hooking call.
Brett Vilness faced only five shots in the second period as he blanked the Stampeders in that period, but faced stood tall against a 17 shot barrage from the increasingly desperate Stampeders in the third, allowing a Derek Walters shot (Nathan Zurak, Aaron Zurak) to close the score to 3-2 for the Demons. Forty seconds later, however Jeff Mildenberger restored the two goal lead at 4-2, with a third assist of the game to Derek Wakita.
Demons held the line although Derek Walters scored again with assists to the brothers Zurak, but it wasn’t enough as the Stampeders dropped into second place in the East Division as the Quesnel Kangaroos had a scoring ball in Quesnel beating the Lac La Hache Tomahawks 11-4 on home ice, to edge a point ahead of the Stamps at 18 points.
The Kangaroos stretched their division lead to three points (20) as they rolled over the Demons in Quesnel Sunday afternoon, 10-2, running up a 4-0 lead in the first, in the process victimizing rookie Demons goaltender, Tony Losier, in his second start. Losier was pulled at the 15 minute mark of the opening period, in favour of Brett Vilness after three goals by Riley Ferster, Allessio Tomasetti and Matt Stang.
Quesnel’s fourth goal was scored by Tomassetti. With the momentum Kitimat continued to wilt and the Kangaroos added three straight goals in the second, two in succession by Paul Girodat and a second of the game by Matt Stang, before Josh Slanina got Kitimat on the board at 8-1, with assists to Derek DeLisser and Brandon Wakita. Michael Bell got a second goal for Kitimat (Terry Whelan, Ben Rumley) with five minutes left in the second period.
But that was all the scoring for the Demons as Quesnel’s momentum could not be stopped as Curtis Gassoff, Rigby Burghart and Paul Girodat finished the scoring for the Kangaroos. Burghart’s goal was the only power play goal of the game, as Demons suffered one of their heaviest defeats in several seasons.
In other weekend games the Prince Rupert Rampage prevailed 5-1 over the traveling Houston Luckies, Saturday night, while the Terrace River Kings were getting past the Smithers Steelheads, 5-4 in a shootout. On Sunday, the Houston Luckies, en route for home, were also blown out 13-2 by Terrace River Kings, in the only other Sunday afternoon game.