The Smithers Steelheads picked up back-to-back wins against the Kitimat Ice Demons and the Lac La Hache Tomahawks in their push for the playoffs this weekend at the Smithers Civic Arena.
The Steelheads have done well this season with home ice advantage, heading into the weekend with a 3-0 record on familiar ice.
First up, the Steelheads took on the Kitimat Ice Demons for the first of three games this season.
The Ice Demons have struggled to put up wins this season with a 1-3-1 record on the road.
Brendan DeVries opened the scoring just 35 seconds into the first to give the Steelheads an early lead. But the Ice Demons answered right back with a goal of their own from forward Ben Rumley a few minutes later.
At the end of the first, after a scramble in front of the net, DeVries would bury a rebound for his second of the night.
In the second, the Ice Demons seemed to find their feet with Rumley slipping one by netminder David Little.
Near the end of the middle frame, defenceman Ian Smith got called for roughing in his own zone resulting in a 5-on-3 powerplay.
Ice Demon Jordan Goncalves wasted no time capitalizing on the advantage with a shot directly off the faceoff win at 6:20.
In the final frame, Greg Sabey whistled a slapshot past Little from the blueline to put the road team up 4-2.
But just when it looked like the Steelheads would drop the game, Spencer Brooks and Adam DeVries evened it up with two goals just minutes apart.
With two minutes left, defenceman Eric Smith would score on a weird backhand flip towards the net, lifting the team to a narrow 5-4 victory over their west division foe.
“I just got a pass from [Josh Aspenlind] and heard some guys yelling ‘throw it on net’, so I threw it on net and good thing it happened,” said Smith. “It was pretty quick.”
Mark Arnold, who had two assists on the night, said playing hard for the full 60 minutes helped lead the team to a come-from-behind win.
On Sunday, the Steelheads faced off against the Lac La Hache Tomahawks for the final time in the regular season.
Again, Brendan DeVries would open the scoring at 7:11.
Tomahawk forward Walter Schmidt’s slapshot from the point would squeak by Hazelton’s Keano Wilson, who made his debut in net with the Steelheads.
In the second and third periods, Ian Smith, Spencere Brooks, captain Darryl Young and Lane Perry would all find the back of the net to defeat the Tomahawks 7-4.
“We had a couple of good games this weekend to show that we still have some oomph left in our game to win,” said head coach Tom DeVries.
Shots on net were 46-29 in favour of the Steelheads.
“The d-men let me see everything well. It wasn’t my best game, but I did alright,” said Wilson. “I was just doing my job to try and help out the team.”
After the weekend wins, the Steelheads are now 5-0 at home and have won three games in a row.
The team hopes to continue their winning steak at home against the Terrace River Kings after the Christmas break.
“They’re a fairly aggressive team on the forecheck, so we have to control the puck so that they can’t do that,” said DeVries, admitting that they won’t have a practice before taking on the top team in the west division. “We might be a little rusty,” he said.
With only five games left in the season, the team will make its final push for a playoff spot.
“Our focus is to play as a team and hopefully we can make a good run at the playoffs,” said DeVries, adding that they’ll need to put as many bodies out as they can in the form of three solid lines.
“These two wins will probably put us in the playoffs.”
Defenceman Devon Hayhurst said the team must continue to put as many shots on net as they can.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing — shooting the puck lots and playing well as a team. It’s fun hockey for everyone,” he said.