A funny thing happened at the West Fraser Centre arena in Quesnel on Dec. 15.
The Quesnel Kangaroos and the Williams Lake Stampeders players had stretched, gone through their pre-game rituals and had their warm up skates.
They were ready for puck drop and to get it on with another tilt in their longtime, spirited rivalry.
But something was missing – sticks were taped, water bottles were filled and rosters were filled out.
Hey, wait! Where’s the zebra squad.
Right, there’s no officials.
Five minutes go by and then 10. A couple phone calls were made and the problem was discovered.
The person who schedules the officials had made a mistake. He thought the game was on Dec. 16 – oops, awkward!
So officials had to pulled in from Quesnel and it had to be done in a hurry.
Another 30 minutes went by and a big referee and two small linesmen started their warmups.
When the game got under way, the Senior Men played great speedy, back-and-forth hockey that featured everything – back checking, fore checking, great passing, shooting, acrobatic saves and hits – lots and lots of thundering hits.
It wasn’t a great crowd but those who came to the arena saw a good game.
The Roos got on the board first with a beautiful breakaway from centre ice by Paul Girodat who went in with speed and deked Stampeders goalie Justin Foote right and then tucked it in the open left side of the net.
The goal came at 4:26 of the period with theassists going to Alessio Tomassetti and Joey MacDonald.
After going to the dressing with a 1-0 lead after the first frame, Quesnel came out and had another second-period let-down and when the buzzer went to end the stanza, the Stampeders had a decisive 4-1 lead – thanks to three goals in a two-minute span.
Waylon L’Heureux, who is nursing a groin injury and didn’t play, says “the boys weren’t finishing their checks properly and we had some bad bounces.”
New Roos goalie Kyle Michalovsky out of Kamloops played his first game for Quesnel and did a good job.
He had a couple of tough goals go in – one was a high shot that bounced of his mitt and deflected into the back of the net and another was tapped in by a D-man sliding on the ice and deflected it into the net.
Noting they were down 4-1 after the second period, L’Heureux says boys didn’t give up.
“We were pretty happy that we came with three early goals in the third to tie it up at four goals apiece.”
Goals came from Ryan Hanes (Ryan Reynolds); Justin Fulton (Tomassetti, Jonathan Belyan); and Karl Weberg (Cam Graham, Ryan Keis).
However, the Stampeders came back with two unanswered goals late in the third to cap off the 6-4 victory.
“So it was a pretty good effort for the guys in the third period, but it was another slow second period and we have to keep working on the slow second period,” says L’Heureux.
“It’s not that we play bad or anything like that; we just don’t get any puck luck.”
The Kangaroos will be hosting the Stampeders on Dec. 23, but they’ll have a short bench because a lot of guys are going home for Christmas, he explains.
“We hope to get a lot of fans out for this game with everybody being home for Christmas. We’re hoping it will be our best game of the year and it’s our last home game.”
Roos goalie Reign Turley got the call to play for the Kelowna Chiefs in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League over Christmas.
“His girlfriend lives down there so they were apart, so he’s going to play down there for a while.”
L’Heureux says Michalovsky has to play four games before the playoffs, so he got one in on Friday.
“He can’t play on Dec. 23 because he’s away for Christmas, but he’ll play in Williams Lake on Dec. 30 and go on the road trip on Jan. 20-21.
The Kangaroos carded a new forward Braiden Epp.
Mike Wakita is out with an ankle injury, and Tommy Grant tore his Achilles tendon so he’s out for the season.