The Kitimat Ice Demons celebrated their first win in 27 games, a drought spanning almost two years, with a victory over the Prince Rupert Rampage on Friday night.
The Ice Demons had not won since the 2017-2018 season, until they defeated the Rampage with a 4-2 win.
Their victory was even more consequential as they ended the Rampage’s undefeated status this season.
The puck dropped at the Kitimat Ice Rink, marking the Rampage’s first away game this season. The home side got off to a speedy start with a goal by left-winger Josh Slanina, who took full advantage of a drop pass by right-winger Derrick Delisser in the slot to snipe home the opening tally.
“We played well defensively. We spoke a lot, helped each other out a lot and had a positive bench,” said Delisser, who is returning to the team after a five-year hiatus. “Years past have not been too great so it’s nice to get off on the right foot.”
The Rampage would tie things up before the period was out though, as Judd Repole buried a one timer off a pass.
“There’s a lot to learn from it. It was our first road game of the year so we didn’t come out as we should have. But in the third period we really turned it around. So we just got to get off to better starts,” Repole said.
Repole said their mindsets should not be different when they are on the road but felt they came out flat during their first road game of the season.
“But Kitimat played well and hard so we also got to give them credit,” Repole said.
Prince Rupert came within inches of taking the lead early in the second as they saw a shot go off the post.
It would turn out to lead to a big swing of events, as at the 7:17 mark Kitimat’s captain, Derek Wakita, jammed home a loose puck to give the home side back the lead. Not even a minute had passed before the Ice Demons were on the board again as Zachary Carrita doubled their lead.
Things got worse for Prince Rupert later in the period, as Caleb Fossil deflected home a shot from Delisser to put Kitimat up 4-1.
Judd Repole would score his second goal of the game in the final period, earning him the title of third star for the game. It was all the offence the Rampage could muster up however; the game ending with some heated tempers as players from both sides got into some scrums.
Delisser and Slanina from the Ice Demons would claim the first and second stars.
The Ice Demons were under the direction of a new head coach, Donald Pacheco, who had just taken over on Wednesday.
“I feel great but for me it is all about the guys. We talked before the game that we all need to battle and compete. Everyone brought something to the table. We went in the offensive zone, defensive zone and special team and we did all three of those aspects,” he said.
Pacheco coached minor hockey for 20 years and decided to take up the position for the challenge, and more importantly, “to give back to the community to see this team have a winning season again.”
Pacheco there were no major changes to their game strategy that got them the win.
“We changed our forecheck a little bit. But I told the guys it’s not so much physical, it’s a mental game, and they brought it to the table tonight.”
Repole said the loss will make them play harder during their Saturday night game against CIHL newcomers, Hazelton Bulldogs.
The Ice Demons will face off on home ice against the Terrace River Kings on Oct. 26.
In the meantime, Kitimat fans and players celebrated heartily as soon as the final whistle blew, something they had not done since Nov. 3, 2017.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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