The Kitimat Ice Demons prevailed in back-to back wins on home ice over Terrace River Kings, 6-3 Saturday night and 7-3 over the Quesnel Kangaroos Sunday afternoon.
“We played a lot better against Quesnel than Terrace, so overall, I think we had a good start to the season,” said head coach Cliff Madsen.
The Ice Demons started the 2013-14 season on a fast note taking a 1-0 lead on the first shot of the game, a drive from the top of the left circle by centre Josh Slanina (Jeff Mildenberger, Jordan Goncalves) that beat Terrace starting goaltender Patrick Leal cleanly, just 43 seconds into the game.
But Terrace had much of the offensive play in period one, but could not put a shot past veteran Demons goaltender Brett Vilness, who earned star of the game honours, playing the style he employed in the Demons’ heyday in the early 2000s.
While out-shooting the Demons 12-8 in the period, Terrace could not get a goal, but the Demons took a two goal lead into the change room on a short-handed goal scored by Derek DeLisser (Derek Wakita) with just 1:10 left in the period.
This was not the usual Terrace-Kitimat rough-house barn-burner, with Terrace taking only two minor penalties in the game and the Demons giving the River Kings only five opportunities on the power play.
The Kings were only able to capitalize once, late in the third period, when captain Steve Cullis slid a Tristan Murray rebound behind Vilness with just over four minutes remaining, and with the game mostly out of reach with Kitimat leading 6-2.
When the final buzzer sounded, Kitimat was ahead 6-3.
On Sunday afternoon the Ice Demons played a more assertive game although the Kangaroos turned the tables on the Ice Demons with the first goal of the game.
While Demons scored on the first shot of Saturday’s game, the first shot of the Sunday game, scored by Quesnel’s Matt Stang (unassisted), squirmed along the line and behind Tommy Mildenberger in the Kitimat goal to gave the Kangaroos a 1-0 lead.
With a power play goal and three shorthanded goals, all in the third period, the Kitimat Ice Demons used special teams to take the 7-3 victory on home ice against the Quesnel Kangaroos.
Kitimat got the tying goal in the first period, with 9:24 remaining, with Derek Wakita scoring, assisted by Blaine Markwart and Ian Coleman. The Ice Demons then grabbed the lead just 19 seconds later with Josh Slanina (Derek De Lisser, Ben Rumley) scoring his first of two in the game.
Four minutes later Derrick DeLisser netted off a pass from Rumley to gave Kitimat some breathing room, with a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
The second period saw Joel Boyetchko get one back about three minutes in, assisted by Curtis Gassoff and Nick Tomasetti, before the goaltenders began to put on a display as each team directed a slew of shots on net and around the goal, with both keepers stopping everything that got through on them, facing 16 each.
Into the third, Kitimat, with Jeff Mildenberger in the box for a tripping call, got great work from the defence and extended its lead to 4-2 as Derek DeLisser got his second goal, the first of Kitimat’s three short-handers, from Kyle Boudreault. It was DeLisser’s second “shortie” in two games.
Justin Fulton pulled Quesnel back to 4-3, but DeLisser with a power-play goal minutes later completed his hat-trick for the game (Josh Slanina, Wade Masch). It was DeLisser’s fifth goal and seventh point in two games.
As the game became a chippy in the later stages Kitimat got two more short-handed goals, an opportunistic pair of markers, one from Josh Slanina, sent into the clear by Wade Masch.
Slanina made a good play to avoid the d-man coming back and again netted high over Manderson’s glove. The second, was as result of hard checking at the blue line, where team captain Derek Wakita, stripped the defence-man in mid-slap shot, eked a second defender and went in on Manderson and slid the puck through his legs. Wade Masch earned his third assist in the final goal.
Quesnel’s forwards were unable to take advantage of a six-on-four with the net empty and Kitimat kept steady to assure the 7-3 win. Overall Kitimat out-shot Quesnel 48-45 and goalies, Mildenberg and Manderson, despite the final score, both had great games.
The Demons now go on the road playing in Prince Rupert on October 12, and against the Houston Luckies in Houston on October 19.
The away trip winds down after October 20 when the Demons will be in Smithers to play last season’s league champions, the Steelheads.