The Smithers Steelheads split the weekend with a win and loss against the Prince Rupert Rampage in a double-header on the road.
Heading into the weekend, the Steelheads were 1-3-0 on the road, but were hot off a sweep of the Rampage during another double-header at home a few weeks ago.
The Rampage have struggled immensely this year, going into Saturday’s game on an eight-game losing streak.
Hoping to best their east division foes, the Steelheads came out slow against the young, fast-skating Rampage team.
Forward Adam DeVries opened the scoring at 8:06, but the Rampage answered right back, with Craig Munro sneaking one by netminder David Little on the powerplay.
“They came out hard, they have lots of energy and young guys, so we survived through that,” said assistant coach Darryl DeVries.
Brendan DeVries netted two halfway through the second frame, followed by another one from Ian Smith just 36 seconds after. Mark Arnold also added to his point tally.
That put the Steelheads up 5-2 going into the final period with a win almost certain.
But three minutes into the third, Devin Palmer got one by Little and the momentum shifted.
“After the second period, we got kind of relaxed. . . they scored the third goal and they had a big crowd, then they had the momentum,” said DeVries.
From then on, it was an uphill battle for the Steelheads, with 18 penalty minutes and the Rampage scoring five unanswered goals to lift them to a 6-5 victory, their first since the beginning of October.
Sunday’s game started off much in the same fashion.
This time the Rampage struck first with a goal from Jared Meers. But deVries would score just nine seconds after.
Starting the second, the Steelheads were down 3-2, but after some line shuffling, the team seemed re-energized.
“Our first two lines were a little bit more powerful and that added a bit more pressure to put pucks in the net,” said DeVries.
The Steelheads’ special teams was the deciding factor in the game with two goals from Smith and DeVries off the powerplay.
They had a strong finish with Calvin Johnson and DeVries scoring two empty netters to seal the deal.
DeVries also picked up his second hat trick of the season.
In total, Little faced 50 shots on net over two games, while Rampage netminder Devin Gerrits saw 61.
“It was pretty good. But losing a 5-2 lead (in the first game) was disappointing and is something we have to work on as a team to secure a lead, especially coming into the latter part of the year,” said DeVries.
Next weekend, the Steelheads will get a taste of teams from both the east and west division at home heading into the second half of the season.
First, they face off against the Kitimat Ice Demons on Saturday night.
Then they have a date with the Lac La Hache Tomahawks on Sunday, both are currently struggling in the standings.
The Ice Demons head into the weekend with a 2-7-1 record, while Lac La Hache are 3-8-0 after dropping their double-header against the Williams Lake Stampeders last weekend.
“We’re not going to take them lightly just because they’ve lost a couple of times,” said DeVries, adding that this is the first time they’ve played the Ice Demons this season.
“I think we need two or three more wins to cinch a playoff spot for sure,” said DeVries, adding that it’s all about finding the right lineup, something they’ve been struggling with this season.