The Quesnel Kangaroos clinched home advantage throughout the Central Interior Hockey League (CIHL) playoffs after a pair of gritty victories on a northern road trip this weekend.
The Roos beat the Terrace River Kings 6-3 on Saturday, with Chase Astorino contributing a hat trick for the Quesnel squad.
Having lost to the River Kings 7-4 at home on Jan. 12, the win was that much sweeter.
Head coach Harley Gilks says the match was a good battle.
“Everyone worked hard,” he says. “Everyone was just going and banging.”
After the big victory, it was important the squad maintain their composure against a talented Prince Rupert Rampage team the day after.
“We had to rally the boys up and get them in the mindset that we came this far to get to where we are and we need this win more than anything, and they got it done.”
Bryan Albee had a hat trick, Alessio Tomasetti netted a pair, and the Roos eked out a 6-5 victory, earning them top spot in the CIHL regular season standings and making their coach very proud.
“I’m pumped,” Gilks says. “I’m super happy for these guys. It’s very well deserved. They earned every ounce of praise they get.
“Especially the guys who have been around since day one.”
As delighted as the team is, the Roos’ ultimate goal has yet to be fulfilled.
Hoisting the Coy Cup and hanging a brand new banner in the rafters of the West Fraser Centre is their top priority now that the regular season is finished.
“We need to get ready to play some gritty hockey,” Gilks says. “That’s what it’s going to come down to.
“We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s been working so far, so we’ve got to stay on this road.”
The Quesnel team will face off against their rivals from Williams Lake on Feb. 9 to begin the playoffs, after which they will head back home for game two on Feb. 16.
Should a game three be needed, they will suit up on Feb. 17 at home again.