The Quesnel Kangaroos are kings of the south after besting Williams Lake 6-4 at home in game 2 of the best-of-three first round Central Interior Hockey League playoff series on Saturday (Feb. 16).
The West Fraser Centre was abuzz with fans of all ages creating a great playoff atmosphere for the rival squads.
Tommy Grant opened the scoring for Quesnel with a rush down the left side capped with a neat wrister that blew by Stamps netminder Willie Sellars around the five minute mark of the first period.
Williams Lake’s Ian O’Brien scored a minute later to knot the match at one. The Stamps had not forgotten their first period collapse of the week before and were eager to keep the momentum on their side.
A picture perfect one-timer by Paul Girodat on the powerplay gave the Roos a 2-1 lead going into the dressing room after one.
The second period started with a pair of quick goals by the Stampeders, who were not quite ready to roll over for their foes to the north.
Kurtis Bond tied it up at two at the 2:43 mark and Danny Merth took a double wack in front of the net to give Williams Lake their sole lead of the contest.
It was not to last long however as Justin Fulton scored the goal of the night with a crafty between-the-legs score to even up the match at three.
It was anybody’s game with halfway to go and then Cam Graham scored a shorthanded bar-down blast at the 11:12 to put the hometown team up again.
Adam Chapman also potted a goal to chase Sellars from net and make it 5-3 for the Roos after two.
Grant was to score an insurance marker for the Roos at the 9:43 mark. The strong forward muscled his way in on net with a defender draped all over him and had the wherewithal to slide the puck past replacement tender Dwayne Wilton.
With three minutes left in the contest the Stamps pulled their tender.
The gamble looked to be paying off when Nathan Zurak scored at the 17:37 mark but they were unable to close the distance any more before the clock ran out.
Tommy Grant was delighted with the result but said the team has other goals ahead.
“I think we’ve had some good battles with them in the past and it’s nice to finally get over the hump but it’s just part of the drive.
“We have higher expectations for this season and they were just one step on the way to what we want.”
The Quesnel side were outstanding at making the best out of the opportunities they were presented with.
“In both games we were pretty opportunistic with the chances we had and that is important this time of year because the checking does get tighter come playoffs,” Grant said.
“We’ve got to make our chances count.”
When asked which northern team he would prefer to face, Grant laughed.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said, “Either or we’re going to have a good series and we’re excited for it.
“We’re happy that we get to come back here to our home ice and play in front of these fans again.
“This is an awesome atmosphere for this league for sure.”
His team mates, although the played very hard all game, looked like they were having the time of their lives on the ice.
“It’s just momentum,” said Roos coach Harley Gilks. “A lot of guys are having a lot of fun on this team right now and it’s a good change of pace when compared to past years.
“Everyone’s just buying into what we’re trying to do as a hockey club.”
The Roos will face the winner of the Prince Rupert Rampage verus Terrace River Kings series.