The River Kings defeated the Smithers Steelheads in a nail-biting 5-4 victory in Terrace over the weekend.
“I thought we did really well. Right now, we’ve got a goaltender that’s keeping us in the game,” said head coach Tom DeVries. “We’ve always tried to have a pretty dominant team. But now we’re relying on a goaltender to keep us in the game.”
The River Kings found the back of the net early with a shot from Josh Murray getting one past netminder David Little.
“The first couple of periods they were all over us and we had a tough time having any kind of space or room to muster any kind of offence,” said DeVries.
The River Kings piled on another two more in the second, before the Steelheads answered back with a goal from Randall Groot, who netted his sixth of the season.
Going into the third, the River Kings held a 5-1 lead, but a fight between Groot and Terrace’s Chapen Leblond that resulted in a game misconduct and a five-minute major, helped rally the team.
“It gave us a little more energy as a group . . . and that helped us out and put us on a bit of a run,” said captain Darryl Young.
The Steelheads went on to score three unanswered goals with Calvin Johnson, Steve Powers and Brendan deVries all finding the net in roughly five minutes.
“In the third period they kind of sat back and relaxed thinking that the game was over and we scored a bunch. We made it 5-4 with 30 seconds left,” said Young. “We played better in the third. But it wasn’t our best game and we all kind of agreed on that.”
In the end, Little faced 43 shots on net, while Patrick Leal saw 19.
“There were a couple of ugly goals, a couple of scrambles and the puck ended up in the back of the net,” said Little. “Otherwise, I felt pretty good out there.”
According to DeVries, the team hasn’t been able to nail down a consistent roster this year, making it difficult to have consistent lineups and forcing some forwards to adopt new roles as defencemen.
“It’s tough to muster any sort of flow for our team or lines or continuity. We’re making it work,” he said. “We have to work on having energy and getting more players.”
Young agreed, adding that the team needs to focus on their defensive play and supporting the team’s revolving door of blueliners.
“We need to focus on our defensive play more than anything. Our goaltending isn’t an issue and our offence is scoring, it’s everybody’s defensive play,” said Young.
The River Kings currently sit in first place in the west division of the CIHL with 10 points, while the Steelheads are in second with four points.
The next game is a double-header at home against the Prince Rupert Rampage on Nov. 22 and 23.