The Kitimat Ice Demons were out-played, out-shot, out-muscled and knocked out of the CIHL playoffs in game two of the western semi-final, as the Steelheads showed why they’d won the league regular season titled in each of the last two years. They played all 60 minutes at a tingling pace, keeping the Demons off stride throughout.
Using a commanding puck-possession game and operating in fast overdrive, the Steelheads prevented the Demons from getting into second gear, out-shooting them 17-4 in the first period, when rookie goaltender Tyson Craven stood tall in the net, making all 17 saves. The Demons got one past arch nemesis Mike Wall eight and a half minutes into the game, with Josh Slanina sliding a cross-ice puck under Wall in the crease. Assists were awarded to Jeff Mildenberger and Ian Coleman.
The lead held up into the second period when Adam Devries took advantage of a good play by Darryl Young to finally beat Craven at 3:06 of the second after Ian Smith stripped a Kitimat forward of the puck and turned the direction of the play.
Referee Kory Martens kept the game in tight control, while letting both clubs skate. But the Demons took two extra penalties, one by Brandon Wakita with a high stick just a minute or so after the tying goal. Smithers, as they have in both semi-final playoff games, made them pay in just 38 seconds with Randall Groot getting the last touch in a tic-tac-toe play for the first of three power play goals in the game, two by Groot. Assists on Groot’s first went to Josh Aspenlind and Ryan Devries.
Back on the power play exactly 10 minutes later, with Kitimat’s Jon Aiken serving two for a slash and a misconduct for arguing with referee Martens, Darryl Young (Ryan Devries) slapped a rebound puck behind Craven, after several good saves. The Steelheads added to their total with a 4-1 goal in the final minute of the period on a two man breakaway that ended with Ryan Green scoring cleanly on Craven with a Kitimat defender tangled in the Smithers end with two home players.
The Ice Demons played a little better in the third period, but could still only manage eight shots at Wall, while Craven handled 14 as Steelheads ran up a total of 45. The 18 shots could be among the lowest number in the Ice Demons’ history, but was a credit to the complete game played by the Steelheads.
Craven’s heroics in net deserved a better finale as as a scoreless third period wound down, Spencer Brooks hefted a clearance into the Demons’ end with 19 seconds to go only to see the puck bouncing off the lively boards past limping Kyle Boudreault and directly to incoming Randall Groot, who buried it behind a surprised Craven for a final score of 5-1, with just 18 second left in the game.