The Kangaroos kicked off the playoffs on the road, against the Houston Luckies, falling just short with a 4-3 loss.
“We jumped up to an early lead, but they fought back,” Coach Brian Kozak said.
The Luckies, while unlucky on the road, weren’t beaten once in regulation time at home in the regular season.
The ‘Roos took the lead late in the first, with Alessio Tomassetti scoring the only goal in the period with just over three minutes left.
The ‘Roos dominated the period, with 10 shots on goal to the three the Luckies managed, but the Luckies goalie, David Little, stayed in strong in net, keeping the ’Roos to a single.
Before the first minute of the second was over, Tyrell Turgeon scored for the ‘Roos putting them in a comfortable spot.
But the ‘Roos got too comfortable allowing the Luckies too much leeway, which netted the charmed Luckies a couple two on ones they capitalized on, scoring at 1:34 and again at 5:57 to tie the game up.
Curtis Gassoff pushed the ‘Roos back into the lead two and a half minutes later.
The ‘Roos continued to push, but Little kept up a stellar performance, pulling some great saves to keep the game tied until the last four second of the second, when the Luckies snuck the puck past Ryan Manderson to tie the game yet again.
Six and a half minutes in, the Luckies grabbed the lead for the first time in the game and didn’t let go.
With one minute left, Kozak pulled Manderson, but the sixth man wasn’t enough to break Little.
The Luckies got lucky/unlucky in the dying minute, as they netted an empty netter that was later recalled as a player was offside.
“You got to give them full credit, they played a really good game,” Kozak said.
Despite the loss, Kozak said the ‘Roos played well, getting forty shots on goal, including some great chances that Little, who played well according to Kozak, managed to shut down.
The loss leaves the ‘Roos in a do or die situation as the series comes back to Quesnel this weekend.
The ‘Roos will face the Luckies on home ice Saturday evening and, if they win Saturday’s game, will finish the series off on Sunday in an afternoon game at the Twin Arenas.
“Our back’s against the wall,” said Kozak.
Kozak hopes to use the home team advantage to the ‘Roos benefit in the final games, as the Twin Arenas houses a smaller rink than the Luckies are used to.
But while the Luckies had problems on the road during the regular season, due mostly to an incomplete roster, Kozak isn’t betting the troubles will continue, as playoffs can bring out a lot more commitment than the regular season.