After a weekend of wins, the Kangaroos capped off their sixth victory in as many games last weekend, beating both the Lac La Hache Tomahawks and the Kitimat Ice Demons.
The win streak highlights the determination and commitment of the players, said coach Brain Kozak.
With the wins, the ‘Roos also successfully defended their honour at home, which is quickly becoming something of a hallowed ground, as they haven’t lost a game at home this season.
“To be unbeaten on home ice is one of the goals the players strive for each and every game,” Kozak said.
“To win in front of our fans is our way of paying them back for their great support.”
Lac La Hache showed up at the Twin Arenas Saturday night to face off against the hometown team. The game was close until the third, when the ‘Roos took advantage of the flagging energy on the away bench to beat the Tomahawks 10-4.
In the first, the Kangaroos jumped out to a two goal lead, with Paul Girodat putting one in early in the period, and Curtis Gassoff following with just over seven minutes left in the period.
Lac La Hache made a run to tie it up with three minutes remaining, collapsing in on goalie Ryan Manderson, who sprawled to make the first save, leaving him out of position to make the second. The Tomahawks continued to push, knocking the ‘Roos off their game and notching up another just over a minute later when the ‘Roos fumbled the puck in front of their own net.
Alessio Tomassetti salvaged the period, taking it up the ice from the ‘Roos end and putting it up high, stick side to keep the ‘Roos on top going into the second.
In the second, Lac La Hache kept the ‘Roos off their game, forcing the period on their terms, which blunted the effectiveness of the ‘Roos scoring lines.
“It’s tough to play against Lac La Hache’s style of hockey; it’s not very structured,” said Gassoff.
The period followed a set rhythm, with the ‘Roos scoring and Lac La Hache responding in under a minute.
Rigby Burgart put the ‘Roos up two at nine minutes, with the Tomahawks’ Jordan Sellers responding thirty seconds later to keep it close. Next, was Tomassetti at 14:44, but Lac La Hache’s Ty Moses responded just under a minute later to keep it within one.
At the beginning of the third, it looked like it was either team’s game, but Lac La Hache was starting to fade.
Justin Fulton was the first to take advantage of the Tomahawks flagging energy, scoring a minute and a half in to the period. Lac La Hache pushed for the return goal, to keep the game in reach, but were unable to get the puck past Manderson.
Halfway through the period, Fulton started an avalanche of goals, scoring on the penalty kill. Boyetchko followed Fulton’s shorthanded goal with one of his own five seconds later.
With the game firmly in hand, the ‘Roos managed to stay focused, as Lac La Hache players watched hope float away. Three goals in the last minute, by Corey Petrie, Paul Girodat and Waylon L’Heureux nailed the win for the ‘Roos.
Kitimat, fresh off a win against Williams Lake, came to Quesnel hoping for another notch in their belt, but were bloodied early by a very ready Kangaroos side.
“It was a real team effort and one of the best efforts I’ve seen this year,” assistant coach, Bob Marsh said.
The ‘Roos came out ready for Kitimat and their style of play, Gassoff said.
The game was fast and rough early in the first, as both team tried to get a handle on the game.
Despite a fast paced first period, it wasn’t until halfway through that a puck found it’s way to the back of the Kitimat net, with Riley Ferster sending it on its way, which opened the flood gates.
Tomassetti scored just half a minute later, followed by Matt Stang at 15:47 and a second for Tomassetti at 17:15.
The Ice Demons worked like the Tasmanian Devil to get something on the scoreboard, but Manderson stayed solid in net and kept them at zero through the period.
Four minutes in, the Kangaroos started to lose their focus and with it came penalties. A string of penalties kept the ‘Roos short-handed, but a solid defence and quick goal tending kept the Ice Demons off the scoreboard, even when the ‘Roos were down two skaters.
With that scare over with, Girodat started the scoring in with a clean goal, flipping it over the Kitimat goalie who sprawled for a poke check, then followed it up 40 seconds later with another. Matt Stang got himself up on the scoreboard at 14:21 to put the ‘Roos up 7-0.
Kitimat’s Josh Slanina finally figured out Manderson at 15:44, followed by Michael Ball on the next play, finally putting Kitimat on the scoreboard.
Manderson shrugged off the goals and fended off a renewed effort by Kitimat until the end of the period.
In the third, a frustrated Kitimat side played the body more than the puck, resulting in a physical period that had both teams frequenting the penalty box.
Gassoff got his first of the night at 8:19. Burgart capitalized on a Kitimat penalty to net his first just over a minute later. Girodat finished his hat trick at 13:18 to round out the scoring.
Though the scoring was all wrapped up, the action wasn’t as the ‘Roos Alex MacKenzie and Kitimat’s Joel Findlay dropped the gloves at centre ice after some pushing and shoving from both teams.
Stopping 35 of the 37 shots against him, Manderson was happy with his game.
“It was a nice game to play – a lot of action but we had it spread out so far there wasn’t a lot of pressure. It’s just a fun game to play,” Manderson said.
The ‘Roos are back in action next weekend in Lac La Hache.