The Kitimat Ice Demons spoiled the Prince Rupert Rampage’s belated home opener with a great two goal bounce back from trailing 3-1 with two minutes left in the second period by scoring twice in 90 seconds and going on to clinch the affair, 5-3 in the third.
This was a fast, hard hitting, but essentially clean game, with few penalty calls, only one minor each in the third period when a great goal-tending duel took place between Keano Wilson in the Rampage net and young Tyson Craven, again between the posts for the Ice Demons. Both goaltenders made some saves that the crown really appreciated and actually applauded, along with the groans from both sets of fans.
Ice Demons out-shot (14 to 5) and out-played the Rampage in the first period but could not beat Wilson. The closest to a goal was a post hit behind Craven on a long shoot in from centre.
The Rampage began to get their skating legs in the second period and were quick to answer an opening goal that put the Demons ahead by Derek Wakita, coming to take a pass back from Kory Finn to beat Wilson high. Terry Whelan also assisted. That was at 3.55 into the period and the Rampage scored the tying power-play goal (D. Wakita, high sticking) at 6.39, on a passing play finished off by Tom Robinson (Kory Movold, Greg Sheppard).
Motivated, the Rampage got two more goals quickly five minutes later when Kory Movald slid a cross crease pass from Tom Robinson behind Craven to give the Rampage the lead. They made it 3-1 on a defensive lapse that sent Sid Spracklin in alone on Craven three minutes later. Craven made the first stop but Spracklin heft the rebound into the net at 14.40.
That was the Rampage’s last shot of the period and the Demons stormed back and gave Wilson a chance to shine with some good stops. But at 18.13, Derek Wakita slid a cross crease pass to Steve Venman who calmly tapped it in. (0 seconds later Ian Coleman was the recipient of a pass back after Wilson stopped Jeff Mildenberger, who back-handed his rebound to incoming Coleman who slammed it behind Wilson to tie the game at 3-3 with five seconds left in the period. Josh Slanina also assisted in the play.
The third period was mostly all Demons, except for a couple of surges by the Rampage, which were met by good defensive blocking and about four exceptional glove grabs by Craven.
Demons took the lead at the 8.16 mark on a goal by Dave Venman moments after he returned to the ice after a two minute unsportsmanlike penalty and a 10 minute misconduct for arguing too strenuously with the referee in the second following the third goal by the Rampage. Venman picked up the pass from Mildenberger at the Rampage blue line, deked the defense and roofed the puck from close in on Wilson, who had no chance. Terry Whelan got his second assist of the night on the play.
The clincher goal came at 17.41 with a nicely combined passing play that saw Derek DeLisser appear to finish with a hard shot (Jon Aiken, Dave Venman) but DeLisser said afterwards Terry Whelan re-directed the puck and should have been credited with the score.
Demons kept the puck mostly in Rampage territory to run out the time to the final whistle.
In other games on Saturday the Williams Lake Stampeders beat the Quesnel Kangaroos, 7-4 in a rough game at Williams Lake. They Smithers Steelheads showed they are still on a hard roll as a scoreless opening period was followed by a 9-1 rout for Smithers in the second. The game ended 10-2.
In Vanderhoof, the Terrace River Kings held the lead, but folded late as the Omineca Ice came back to win 5-3.