If you were even a minute late to Saturday’s game, you missed the ‘Roos first goal.
Justin Fulton put the puck past Paul Simoes, the Omineca goalie, just 28 seconds into the first period.
The goal was a taste of things to come, as the ‘Roos dominated the Ice in the second game of the best–of–three, taking their first series.
“Every game we play, doesn’t matter the score, we play to get better as a team. We got away from how we play in the first a little bit, but we came back out in the second and we took over the game,” said coach Brian Kozak
It was the ‘Roos first playoff game at home and the stands were packed with a large crowd, including a contingent from China who were as effusive as the locals. And the crowd had a lot to cheer about, with the ‘Roos taking the game 10-5.
In the first, the ‘Roos were solid, with Paul Girodat posting their second goal of the night, seconds past the three minute mark and, before the fourth minute, Nick Tomassetti grabbing a rebound and flipping it up over Simoes, who was still on his knees after his initial save.
Already three up at the four–minute mark, the game started to get rough. Halfway throughout the period, the penalties started to drop, after which a near–unbroken line of penalties kept nine players or less on the ice, with power plays going both ways.
Ryan Manderson, the ‘Roos goalie, kept the Ice from scoring, making some impressive saves to kill penalties as the clock wore down in the first.
Omineca finally found its way onto the scoreboard, with just over two minutes left in the first.
The ‘Roos, after an undisciplined bit of roughing, with both Devon Whalen and Brayden Penner in the penalty box, found themselves down two, when the Ice’s Dustin Duncan took the shot at the blue line that found its way past Manderson.
The second period started off slow, with fewer shots on goal through the first five minutes then they had goals in the first five of the first.
But, the Ice found some energy on the first power play of the period, though not enough to make anything happen, except to push the ‘Roos back into high gear.
Spencer Holmes opened up the scoring after that, snapping it over the Ice’s goalie just before the eight minute mark.
A couple minutes later, Curtis Gassoff and Tomassetti played a quick tic-tac-toe game in front of the net, with Troy McMillan, the last in the line of passes, finding himself with the puck and a lot of goalie-free net to slide it into.
At the 12 minute–mark, Omineca’s Justin Alessandrini was able to beat Manderson when he skated down a rebound and fired it, backhand, behind him, for the Ice’s second goal of the night.
The ‘Roos didn’t let the goal slow them down. Daniel Hills came up the wing minutes later and let go a shot that rebounded back to Waylon L’Heureux, who had been following Hills and took his own shot, this time beating the goaltender.
The game continued to feature less-than-legal jostling, which lead to a couple penalties late in the period, after Kalen Bird of the Ice got kicked out for an egregious head butt, which would get the Ice into more trouble as the ‘Roos capitalized twice on the ensuing power plays.
Fulton found the back of the net at 14:32, coming in close and holding the puck back, waiting for the right moment, before finding a weakness and popping it into the netting.
Eight seconds later Girodat would fire it past Simoes to round up the scoring in the five–goal second period.
The third continued in the vein of the first two periods, with plenty of cross-talk and some very physical confrontations which lit the scoreboard up like a Christmas tree and caused the ‘Roos a bit of a pain.
Out in front coming into the period, the ‘Roos were looking to play the puck less and to play the body more and the Ice seemed more than happy to oblige them, with a fight between L’Heureux and Dustin Duncan of the Ice within a minute of the period starting.
Holmes was the first to score in the period, sneaking it past Simoes to give the ‘Roos a commanding 9-4 lead less than five minutes into the period.
The teams traded off penalties until half way through the period, when the Ice started to find their discipline.
Manderson made a triptych of beautiful saves early on in the penalty trouble, stopping the Ice in the first of a line of ‘Roos penalties.
Unfortunately, with that penalty killed, Holmes got thrown in to the box and Kenneth Schmidt got Omineca’s third of the night, which would start something of a run for the Ice, with three power play goals in a row.
David Gordon was the next to score for the Ice and, with less than seven minutes left, the Ice started to find life again.
Montana Turgeon scored for the Ice a minute later, which sobered up the ‘Roos.
After the run, the ‘Roos found their discipline and didn’t get drawn in to anymore penalty situations, but set about to killing the rest of the game without any more goals against.
McMillan put the nail in the coffin for the Ice when he scored his second of the night, two minutes before the end of the game, to make it 10-5.
Saturday’s win brings the winning streak tally to seven, with nary a loss in 2013.
The ‘Roos have come a long way from the beginning of the season.
Their first game of the year was against Omineca Ice, which the Ice won in a shoot out.
The game was close through 60 minutes, with the lead trading hands in the first, before a couple unanswered goals in the second put the Ice in a comfortable lead, which the ‘Roos wore down in the third, tying the game less than three minute before the buzzer.
Today’s ‘Roos were a completely different team against the Ice.
In the first round of playoffs, the ‘Roos dominated, allowing the same amount of goals in their final two games against the Ice as in the initial game – six goals.
For the coaching staff, the change rests on the back of one word and it starts with a capital T.
“The players, through hard work and the decision to play the game with a Team–first mentality, have raised their game to the next level,” Kozak said.
With the Stampeders taking the first two games in their series against Lac La Hache Tomahawks, 4-3 then 4-2, the ‘Roos will be taking them on in the next round.
The ‘Roos have won two out of five games against Williams Lake, taking both home games late in the season, but losing the first three in Williams Lake early in the season.
“They’ve got a solid squad; They play an honest game. It’ll be a good series, a really good challenge for our players.”Kozak said.
The ‘Roos’ next game is this Saturday, at 7:30, at the Twin Arenas.