It was a tough weekend for the league leading Quesnel Kangaroos who suffered back to back losses on home ice.
Saturday night, the ‘Roos lost 9-8 in a shootout thanks to a goal by Blaine Markwart.
The ‘Roos had led the game 6-4 going into the third period and 7-5 one minute into the third period, but watched as the Ice Demons clawed their way back to knot the score at 7-7 just over five minutes into the final frame.
Paul Girodat scored his fourth goal of the game with less than six minutes to play to give the ‘Roos an 8-7 lead, but Josh Slanina pulled Kitimat even two minutes later to set up the shootout.
“The puck looked like it weighed 100 pounds at the end of the game,” Kangaroos assistant coach Steve Williams said of the jitters his players had nursing a one-goal lead.
“We had some good energy and could have skated away with this one, but we just let them hang around.”
“I think we could have, should have won,” he said.
“When you score eight goals in a game, you should win, but it just didn’t work out tonight.”
Girodat admitted, given the loss, his four-goal game was bittersweet, but said there was no finger pointing in the dressing room.
“We lost as a team,” he said.
Despite the loss, Williams was also positive, explaining adversity was a good team builder and in the end the loss against Kitimat would make the ‘Roos a better team.
Unfortunately, the improvement didn’t come soon enough for the Kangaroos as Sunday afternoon they suffered their first loss in regulation, 6-5 to the visiting Williams Lake Stampeders.
Both teams began the game cautiously, with neither team getting a shot on goal until the fifth minute of play when the Stamps scored a powerplay goal on their first shot of the game to take a 1-0 lead.
The Kangaroos responded in kind seven minutes into the first period when Alessio Tomassetti skated in from the left-hand boards to roof a shot past the Stamps netminder Justin Foote.
It was the ‘Roos first shot of the game.
The ‘Roos eventually took a 3-2 lead with four minutes to go in the frame on a Rigby Burgart shot from the slot that hit a stick in front of the net and zipped over Foote’s outstrectched glove.
But the Stamps came back with their third powerplay marker of the period to tie the game 3-3.
Powerplay goals would typify the rest of the game as the Stampeders went on to score two more powerplay goals en route to the win.
In all the ‘Roos handed the Stampeders nine powerplay opportunities. The ‘Roos had five powerplays and came away empty handed each time.
“Penalties have been our problem since the beginning of the year,” Curtis Gassoff said.
“It was the problem today, last night and last weekend.
“We can outplay any team in the league five-on-five, but we have to stay out of the penalty box.”
Gassoff, who was instrumental in resurrecting the ‘Roos, said he was still enjoying the experience despite the last few games.
“It’s more than what I expected,” he said with a smile.
“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The ‘Roos hit the ice Saturday at Twin Arenas when they face the Omineca Ice. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.