This past February, Gord Young, coach of the Smithers Steelheads at the time, said it was going to take time to heal after losing the East Division title to the Williams Lake Stampeders. In the final game of that series, Stampeders goalie Justin Foote made an incredible 62 saves to shut out the Steelheads, ending the hockey season for Smithers, who played a stellar game aside from being unable to put a puck past Foote.
Last Saturday, the two teams met again at the Smithers Civic Centre Arena, with the Steelheads ready to show the Stampeders they’re ready for a fresh start. Judging by the home team’s performance, the healing process is well underway, if not finished.
Smithers started out with a bang, with Randall Groot taking the pass from Devon Booth and Adam DeVries to put one past Foote in the first half minute of play. Seven minutes later, the Stampeders returned the favour, with Wilfred Robbins evening up the score. The first period ended in a 1-1 tie.
The second period saw more action on the scoreboard. Matt Arnold scored off an assist from Cody Cringan to put Smithers in the lead a minute and a half into the period. About 30 seconds later, Williams Lake’s Bill McGinnis evened up the score at two each.
As the Steelheads heated up, Russ Blanchard scored, giving Smithers the lead, a position they held for the rest of the game. Adam DeVries potted the next two goals on assists from Stu Barnes and Eric Smith, and Barnes and Groot, putting the Steelheads up 5-3. As the period drew to a close, Brent McIsaac added one for the Stampeders.
As the game moved on the play got rougher, but that didn’t stop the Steelheads from keeping the lead. Halfway through the third period, McIsaac scored another for Williams Lake, putting the Stampeders within a single point of tying the game. The Steelheads ratcheted up the defence, and with less than three minutes to go, Cringan scored a sixth for Smithers from a Rob Miller assist. The Steelheads took their second win in as many games this season with a final score of 6-4.
The Steelheads faced the Lac La Hache Tomahawks on Sunday; due to press deadlines, that game will be covered in next week’s Interior News. The Steelheads will be playing at home again this Saturday, facing the Houston Luckies. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.