The ‘Roos came out of the gate hard in last Saturday’s game against the Lac La Hache Tomahawks, taking the, at times anxious, game to a 5-4 win over their division rival.
For their first home game in more than a month, the ‘Roos came out proudly dressed in new jerseys, that hearkened back to some very old jerseys.
“It felt good to be out in the new jerseys,” ‘Roo captain Waylon L’Heureux said.
“The thing about the ‘Roos is you grew up watching them. So, we got T&L Designs to go down to the museum and they’ve got a jersey down there and that’s where they got the design.”
To celebrate the retro-nostalgic jerseys the team brought out some old school Kangaroos before the game (from left in the picture; Bob Johnston, Mike Flanigan, Gordon Perry and Albert Gassof).
“It was nice to bring the four Kangaroos alumni out, these icons,” coach Brian Kozak said.
“These are guys that played for 12 years some of them. From our president Jack (Marsh) right down to the coaching staff and the players, that’s what we want, the mentality of those guys, that winning tradition. That you do whatever you can to help the team; if you got one shift you got one shift, if you got ten you got ten, but that one shift might change the game. That’s what we’re trying to get through to the guys.”
The team, running high on tradition and their homecoming, hit the first hard, quite literally with some painful crunches happening mid-ice.
Waylon L’Heureux started the ‘Roos off with a goal from in close just over three minutes into the period, which got the crowd on their feet.
In charge of the centre ice, the ‘Roos forechecked well, forcing turnovers and dominating the middle. It’s something the ‘Roos have been practicing, said Kozak and the fruits of that labour were paying off in Saturday night’s game.
The ‘Roos didn’t let up for the rest of the period, with 20 shots on goals, most of which were good shots and solid opportunities that William Sellars, the Tomahawks goalie did an amazing job stopping.
“Their goalie had a good game; he stood on his head all night,” L’Heureux said.
The ‘Roos pushed Sellars hard, collapsing on him after nearly every shot, but he didn’t blink and didn’t let another puck get by.
The second wrapped up with a the ‘Roos in firm control of the game, with only a single point lead to show for it.
In the second, the ‘Roos kept up their push, though it was the Tomahawks who would get the first point of the second, at three and a half minutes.
On a power play, the Tomahawks Kevin McNab, at the goal line, flipped the puck out in front to Wade Balbirnie, who flicked it past ‘Roos goalie Ryan Manderson to tie the game.
Four minutes later, on a power play of their own, the ‘Roos’ Justin Fulton took a shot from the point that found its way through traffic and past Sellars.
Out in front again, the ‘Roos kept control of the game, pushing the Tomahawks until tempers started to burn bright in the only flare up of the night.
Lac La Hache was once again the first to take initiative in the third, with Ty Moses poking the puck past Manderson after a strange bounce off the boards put it in front of the goal to keep the pressure on the ‘Roos.
The quick goal took the ‘Roos back a bit, but not for long. By the five minute mark the ‘Roos were playing again, with Levon Johnson leading the way by taking the game to the Tomahawks short-handed, putting the puck past Sellars on the glove side on a breakaway.
The two goal lead didn’t last a minute, with the puck somehow finding its way up and over Manderson after a scuffle at the post during the same ‘Roos penalty.
With only a goal separating them, the ‘Roos had 30 seconds three players on the ice after Justin Grouette got tagged for roughing and Joey MacDonald took a penalty for crosschecking when he thought a Tomahawk was getting too friendly with Manderson.
A very tense 30 seconds had both Tomahawks and ‘Roos fans on edge waiting for a game changing goal, which never came.
It was Nick Tomassetti who got the next goal off a nice bounce off the boards, with less than 5 minutes left.
The two goal cushion whipped the Tomahawks back into action as they saw victory slowly pulling away from them. Balbirnie came hard down the left wing, snaked past two defencemen somehow found a crack in Manderson’s armour at an oblique angle to the goal, giving the Tomahawks the chance to pull out of their nosedive, with less than three minutes left.
Two minutes ticked by without any action on the scoreboard, with the ‘Roos keeping the puck away from Lac La Hache for the most part.
With the game leaking away, Lac La Hache pulled their goalie for the last minute, causing a flurry of could-have-beens for both sides, but ultimately resulting in nothing.
The ‘Roos face a double-header on the road next weekend, coming up against the league leading Smithers Steelheads on Saturday and the Omenica Ice on Sunday.