The Quesnel Kangaroos proved that they are the Kings of their castle, making Terrace look like court jesters in an 8-4 win over the CIHL regular season champions at the West Fraser Centre on Feb. 29.
The parking lot was packed, the concession line overflowing and the seats were full, as hockey fans packed the West Fraser Centre to watch their hometown Roos take on the River Kings in Game 1 of the CIHL championship round.
It wouldn’t take long for the Roos to bring the packed house to their feet, as Lane Vandewetering ripped the rubber past River Kings goaltender Pat Leal to give the Roos a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the game.
There was no taking their feet off the gas for the Roos, as they poured on the offensive pressure, scoring two power play goals just over a minute apart halfway through the period. Roos captain Alessio Tomassetti scored his first of the night, assisted by Mike Wakita and Braiden Epp, followed by a goal scored by Wakita, assisted by Bryan Albee, giving the Roos a 3-0 lead.
The River Kings, who seemed unable to handle the offensive onslaught, were able to capitalize on a power play opportunity halfway through the period, as Nick Nordstrom scored for the visitors to cut the Roos’ lead to two.
The River Kings wouldn’t have long to celebrate, however, as Eli Jarvis scored the fourth goal of the period for the Roos, assisted by Paul Girodat and Justin Fillion, reclaiming the three-goal lead for the home team.
As the puck dropped to start the second period, the energy on the ice was intense and immediate, as the Roos were determined to keep up the offensive pressure and the River Kings played with a desperate ferocity.
The visitors were the first to ring the bell in the second period, as Sam Reinbolt scored to once again bring the River Kings within two; however, that would be the closest his team would come to the surging Quesnel offence for the rest go the game.
The Roos would add two more goals to their lead in the period, the first scored by Justin Fulton, assisted by Paul Girodat, and the second by Tomassetti, assisted by Albee and Epp, giving the Roos a 6-2 lead heading into the third period.
The third period saw the River Kings play their best hockey of the night, as they finally seemed to be clicking on offence. Austin Turner scored a quick power play goal for the visitors less than a minute into the period, and Ben Reinbolt followed with his first of the night four minutes later to once again cut the Roos’ lead down to two.
The brief offensive burst was too little too late for the River Kings, however, as the Roos, who had no intention of allowing any kind of comeback come to fruition, turned up the heat and buried two more goals into the River Kings’ net. Galbraith scored his second of the night, assisted by Fillion, and Roos captain Tomassetti scored his third of the evening to claim the hat trick and put the River Kings out of their misery. The Roos won the match convincingly by a final score of 8-4, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship final.
The Roos, who are one win away from being crowned CIHL champions for the second year in a row, will head to Terrace for Game 2 of the series on March 7. If needed, Game 3 will also be held in Terrace, on March 8.