A scary incident dampened the atmosphere as the Quesnel Kangaroos defeated the Nechako North Stars 7-2 at Quesnel’s home opener at the West Fraser Centre.
Just minutes into the game, a lose puck at the side of the Nechako net led to a jam play. After a brief scrum, Caleb Goncalves of the North Stars was laying on the ice, with a severely injured leg or knee.
Trainers from both teams came on the ice to aid the player, even placing him on his side in a recovery position.
Players and trainers were able to help Goncalves upright and carried him off the ice. In the first intermission he was taken by stretcher out of the arena by paramedics.
“The guys kind of rallied behind it,” Nechako coach Dave Boon said. “We tried to play for the guys that were down, and I thought we put forth a good effort.”
There was a game to be played, and both teams struck on the powerplay in the first period, with Quesnel’s Bryan Allbee striking to give the home side a lead before the North Stars responded.
Quesnel held the majority of the chances throughout the first period, and would earn their lead in the second period, on goals from Eric Galbraith and Eli Jarvis. Both players would add a second goal for themselves in the third period, and Gailbrath would get a hat trick on a cannon of a powerplay slap shot. Jarvis exited the game after a third period fight.
Gilks praised Chad Kimmie for stepping up to fight Sam Needham in the third as well.
“Nobody else wanted to go with that guy, (Needham) was out of his weight class,” Gilks said.
“He definitely got popped a few times, but he did his job as a teammate.”
Nechako goalie Matthew Ens was under fire and held the game at 3-1 in the second, making a spectacular diving save to deny a cross-slot chance for Quesnel.
Ens was great throughout the game, as the Roos dominated in transition and the neutral zone, generating odd-man-rush after odd-man-rush, but they weren’t able to convert one of their many chances.
Ens would end the game with 40 saves, including a first period penalty shot stop. Quesnel starter Ryan Manderson only needed to make 24 saves for the win.
Boon praised his team’s effort in the first two periods.
“I’m really excited, we’ve got a real young group of guys, and it’s an exciting thing to look forward to,” he said. “That’s the old adage, you’ve got to play 60 minutes, you can’t play 20. It’s a tough grind, it’s a tough league and I think our guys are finding that out.”
Quesnel will play at home again on Sunday, Nov. 14. Attendees must be fully vaccinated to attend.
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