Steelheads under pressure as Stampeders win first of series

The Smithers Steelheads will need to win two in a row at home against the Williams Lake Stampeders to win the CIHL East Division title, after losing 8-4 in Williams Lake last Saturday.

The Smithers Steelheads will need to win two in a row at home against the Williams Lake Stampeders to win the CIHL East Division title, after losing 8-4 in Williams Lake last Saturday.

Steelheads head coach Gord Young admitted that mistakes were made last week, and said the defence and goaltending weren’t quite up to standards.

“We had some really bad mental breakdowns defensively,” he said. “If you make mistakes in your own end, Williams Lake will capitalize.”

At the end of the second period, Smithers players had taken 25 shots while the Stampeders had taken only 14; however, Williams Lake was up with a score of 6-1. Smithers’ defence picked up in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to catch up.

“We had enough shots to win the game, but defensively we just weren’t there,” said Young.

This weekend’s games on home ice may trigger recent memories, as the Steelheads faced the Stampeders in Smithers in a back-to-back weekend to close out the regular season last month. That pair of games was split one apiece, although the Steelheads still finished with the best record in the CIHL and at the top of the East Division.

Young said he still hopes the team can win two games and move on to the winner of the West Division, which the Prince Rupert Rampage is leading one game to none against the Kitimat Ice Demons.

“I am looking forward to playing here. We need to use our home ice advantage,” said Young.

The puck drops on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Smithers Civic Centre Arena. If the Steelheads win, the teams will reconvene Sunday at 1 p.m. for the final game in the best of three series.