The River Kings return to home ice for their second playoff game after crushing the Prince Rupert Rampage 5-2 in the first game of the playoffs between the two teams in the CIHL Western Division.
Rampage captain Jared Meers, Tyler Halliday, and Kory Movold started the game for the home team.
With a quick pace set by the Rampage, Colten Braid from Terrace took a boarding penalty, and that encouraged Movold to score the game’s first goal. Halliday got the puck on the hash marks and found Movold back door, who opened his playoff account with an open net.
Shortly after, Halliday took two minutes in the box for roughing after retaliating after a whistle. Terrace only registered one shot on the power play and was mainly kept to the outside.
Palmer then drew a penalty for interference as he chipped the puck past the last River King defenceman.
Rupert didn’t score on the man advantage, and struggled to all night, but they gained some momentum and played more in Terrace’s end than they did to begin the game.
Penalties to each team saw some open ice play, four-on-four. With exception to the one retaliatory penalty, Prince Rupert took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
As the second frame started, Terrace looked like they found another gear, punishing Prince Rupert with physical play. It led to the River Kings’ first goal, as Steve Cullis brushed off the Rupert defenceman, checking him behind the net and centred the puck to Ben Reinholt to make it 1-1.
After a Movold penalty for boarding, tempers were at the boiling point.
Out of almost thin air, Terrace’s Dawsen LeBlond picked up the puck on the right hash-marks of the slot, and went to the short side for a 2-1 River Kings’ lead. The visitors kept up the pressure after their leading marker, but as he’s done all season Rampage goaltender Devon Gerrits answered the bell.
A couple minutes later, Halliday made a perfect pass to Meers who went short side on the Terrace tender on a perfectly executed two-on-one rush. Unfortunately, the next minute after a goal in hockey can be the most dangerous time for a team, and Terrace took full advantage of that. They answered shortly after a breakdown in Prince Rupert’s own zone. That made it 3-2 Terrace on a goal from Cullis.
Gerrits bailed out his team again as Cullis was all alone, but was denied by his blocker. Colten Braid put the cap on what would be a period Prince Rupert would want to forget with a fourth goal in the frame on a delayed call. It was another feed from behind the net to the front of it. That made it 4-2 at the end of two periods for Terrace.
The third was gut-check time for Prince Rupert. Though they had chances, they couldn’t solve River Kings’ goalie Patrick Leal.
Jordan Aubee, Prince Rupert tough guy, dropped the mitts with Cory Dekelver. Aubee received seven minutes in penalties and a game misconduct, as Dekelver didn’t look like he wanted anything to do with Aubee.
After the game Jordan said, “I asked Dekelver to go, he said yes, then he turtled.”
When the fight occurred there was eight minutes left, essentially killing any chance of a Rampage comeback.
Terrace added a late goal to make the final 5-2.
Game 2 is at 8 p.m. on Saturday night at the Terrace Sportsplex and Game 3, if necessary, will be Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.
The team that wins the River Kings / Rampage playoff series will advance to play the winner of the other western playoff series, Smithers verses Kitimat.
The winning team of that round will advance into the finals against the top eastern team.
In their first playoff game, Smithers shellacked the Ice Demons 9-4 in Kitimat.
In the East, the Quesnel Kangaroos completed a two-game sweep of the Lac La Hache Tomahawks, winning 9-5, and will play the Williams Lake Stampeders in the next round.
The hockey season will wrap up with the Coy Cup Championship in Terrace March 22-26.
The River Kings have a bye into the tournament as the host team.