The ‘Roos gained two points and a lot of kilometres in last weekend’s travel-happy double header.
Waking up with a hockey-hangover Monday morning, after getting home in the wee hours of the morning following a game and bus ride back from Prince Rupert, coach Brian Kozak was grateful for his team, who showed up despite the hardship of hitting the office after a long weekend of travel and hard hitting hockey.
The ‘Roos opened up their weekend Saturday against the Western Division–leading Kitimat Ice Demons.
Despite a strong showing from the ‘Roos, the Ice Demons ran away with the game in the third, with a 6-1 win.
“We had a good chance to turn the game around,” coach Brian Kozack said, “ but we just didn’t capitalize.”
The final was not visible in the first two period of play, through which the two teams played a near-even game, but attrition tripped up the ‘Roos finally in the third.
The Ice Demons opened up the scoring in the fifth minute of play, with Wade Masch weilding the stick that did it.
Then, the ‘Roos lost Harvey Gilks to an injury after he was clipped on the chin by a defenseman’s helmet on what was otherwise a clean check.
After 20 minutes of play both the score and shots on goal, 10-12 in favour of the Demons, were close.
A set of back-to-back goals in the scond rocked the ‘Roos back on their heels.
Daniel Jerret got the first of the two goals, logging his at 7:25. Not nine seconds later, Kory Finn netted the second of the period to put the Ice Demons up three to nothing. Through ten more minutes of play, the ‘Roos battled hard to get back within striking distance.
Just over a minute before the end of the period, Joey MacDonald managed to get the ‘Roos first, and only, goal, putting them only two points behind.
Disaster struck in the final seconds of the second when Joel Boyetchko got thrown out for slashing after his stick rebounded off a defensman’s stick and went up into his face, drawing blood. Waylon L’Heureux got caught up in the penalties when he went over to talk to the refs and got a minor for unsportsman-like conduct.
This sent the ‘Roos into the third with two penalties to kill, which they did.
“Our penalty kill was absolutely incredible on the weekend,” Kozack said.
The ‘Roos were now down two players on the game, with another player having stayed home because of the flu, the team was low on lines and tiring.
The Ice Demons saw their chance and pounced.
Terry Whelan was the first to take advantage of the situation, scoring half-way through the third. Ian Coleman then knocked two in within three minutes of each other to make the final score.
Sunday, the ‘Roos played the second of the weekend’s two games, facing off against the Prince Rupert Rampage on their home turf.
The ‘Roos came out hard against the Rampage in the first, getting a team hat trick of sorts — an even strength goal, a power play goal and a shorthanded goal.
Nick Tomassetti netted both the first and third goal of the first.
“He had a hell of a game,” said Kozack.
The first goal came about six minutes into the first, when Tomassetti came in on his off-wing, pulled a head fake that fooled the goalie, who went down, then put it top shelf, cracking it off the crossbar on its way in.
Joel Boyetchko joined in half-way through the period to put the ‘Roos in a comfortable lead.
Then Tomassetti, after beating two defencemen to find free space in a breakaway, then fooling the goalie again – going right when the goalie guessed left, notched up the final goal in the first.
The second wasn’t quite so lovely for the ‘Roos.
Jared Davis started the unsuccessful come-back against the ‘Roos, flipping one past goalie Ryan Manderson at 4:48 into the second.
Jean-Luc Fournier was next up, engaging warp ten to score two minutes later.
Keith Muvold got the tying goal with just over three minutes left in the second, setting the stage for a nail-biting third.
With pressure mounting, the ‘Roos gave everything they had not to let success slip away, unfortunately the refs saw everything as too much, keeping the ‘Roos short of a full five for the duration of the third.
With their penalty kill on point, the ‘Roos closed down every chance for the Rampage, whether short-handed or even strength at four-on-four.
On an evened-up call early in the period, Justin Fulton, the lead scorer in the CIHL, took the chance, scoring the go ahead goal.
After that the ‘Roos hung on, despite a hard working Rampage, coming out the other side with the 4-3 win.
The ‘Roos head out on the road once again this Friday to take on the Williams Lake Stampeders.