The Quesnel Kangaroos beat the Williams Lake Stampeders 4-3 on the road to win the team’s first playoff game of the season.
The home team would strike first Saturday, Feb. 8, as Stampeders defenceman Kaleb Boyle scored five minutes into the period, bringing the hometown fans to their feet.
The fans wouldn’t stay happy for long, however, as Roos centre Braiden Epp tied the game and silenced the crowd, scoring with less than a minute left in the opening frame, assisted by Joshua Garneau and Adam Chapman.
The second period would see the Roos pick right up where they left off, as captain Alessio Tomassetti caught the home team napping, scoring the go-ahead goal less than a minute into the period, assisted by Ryan Reynolds and Epp.
The two teams battled hard to for the rest of the period, and while both would have opportunities on the powerplay, their respective defences stood strong, setting up an exciting third.
Almost as soon as the puck was dropped in the third, it was in the back of the Williams Lake net, as Epp netted his second of the game at the 33-second mark, assisted by Eric Galbraith and Bryan Albee.
The Roos would start to pull away as they took control of the game, barely letting the Stampeders touch the puck. Eli Jarvis would give the Roos what seemed like a little extra insurance but would turn out to be the game-winning goal, as he scored off a helper from Justin Fulton a little over halfway through the period.
The Stampeders, unwilling to be blown out on their home ice, would do their best to muster a comeback late in the period. With less than five minutes to go in the game and the Roos victory all but assured, Cole Zimmerman scored, assisted be Darcy Flaherty and Brayden Davis, giving the home team a sliver of hope.
Less than a minute later, Stampeders forward Curtis Bond would keep any fans thinking about beating the traffic in their seats, as he scored, assisted by Pierce Egan, bringing the home team within one goal of sending the game to overtime.
However, no amount of cheers and rally cap mojo from the hometown crowd could stop the Roos from taking back control of the game, as they locked down defensively, slamming the door shut on the Stampeders’ comeback.
Despite the close score, the Roos dictated the action for most of the game, outshooting the Stampeders 42-13 and denying the home team’s offence, rendering their powerplay useless as it went 0-5.
The teams will meet for Game 2 in the playoff series Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in Quesnel at the West Fraser Centre, where the Roos will look to eliminate their rivals from the playoffs. Game 3, if needed, will be played Sunday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. at the West Fraser Centre.