The Smithers Steelheads are indisputably the best hockey team in the CIHL after a pair of back to back wins last weekend. After 10 games in regular season play over the past two months, the Steelheads remain undefeated, with less than half of the season remaining. The Quesnel Kangaroos, in their inaugural season, went eight games before losing their first in a shootout two weeks ago.
The weekend started out on Saturday night at the Smithers Civic Centre Arena, with a sound defeat of the Prince Rupert Rampage. Rupert held strong for the first period, and partway through the second needed only a couple goals to catch up, with shots on goal fairly even between the sides. The Rampage faltered after a pair Steelheads goals late in the second, going into the final period with Smithers leading 5-1. The Rampage eventually gave most of the roster a shot at the action for an 8-1 Smithers win.
Sunday afternoon’s game was a closer affair, as last year’s Coy Cup winners, the Kitimat Ice Demons, brought their best game to Smithers.
The first period remained scoreless, with Kitimat leading the Steelheads in shots on net; however, Smithers goalie Mike Wall held strong against the attack. Partway through the second period, Cody Cringan flipped the puck past a couple Ice Demons defenders, taking the lead for the Steelheads. With 11 seconds remaining in the second, Stu Barnes picked up a second goal for Smithers.
As the intensity picked up and the game got rougher, Smithers started to catch up with shots on goal; however, Kitimat snuck one past Wall with just over eight minutes remaining, to bring a comeback within reach. With four minutes remaining, Ian Smith scored one more for the Steelheads, which would be the last goal in a 3-1 win for Smithers.
The Steelheads will spend most of December on the road. The next home game will be at 5:30 p.m. against the Houston Luckies on New Year’s Eve.