If the first six games are any indication, the Central Interior Hockey Leagues East Division will be a dog fight leading up to the playoffs.
The Williams Lake Stampeders and the Houston Luckies both earned three out of a possible four points Saturday and Sunday in Houston, splitting a pair of shootout wins.
The weekend prior also saw Williams Lake and Houston trade victories over a two-game series in the lakecity.
Saturday, the Stampeders lost 5-4 in the shootout, before winning 6-5 Sunday in another, which leaves all five teams in the division within striking distance of the East Divisions first-place team currently the Smithers Steelheads.
The Steelheads are 4-2-0 with eight points, followed by Williams Lake (3-2-1) with seven. The remaining three teams in the division the Burns Lake Braves (3-1-0) and the Houston Luckies (2-1-1) have played just four games, with the Omineca Ice (2-0) currently in last place in the division having only played two games, remaining undefeated.
Thats a four-point spread between the first-place team and the fifth-place team, and with the Braves, Luckies and Ice each having played less games, the division appears to be up for grabs.
The landscape in the CIHLs West Division is much different.
Currently, the Terrace River Kings are dominating, going undefeated in four games (4-0-0).
The perennial powerhouse Kitimat Ice Demons sit second in the division with just one win (1-3-0), followed by the Prince Rupert Rampage (0-3-0) and the Hazelton Wolverines (0-5-0).
Saturday, Williams Lake carried a 2-1 lead heading into the second period with goals from Glen Camille and Brent McIsaac beating Luckies netminder Don Kenzle, before Patrick Dinelle narrowed the spread to one goal.
In the second, the Luckies Alonzo Slaney and Dwayne Anderson both lit the lamp on Stamps goaltender Justin Foote on the power play to help carry a 3-2 lead into the third.
Nathan Zurak and Stuart Sasges scored for the Stampeders in the third, while Michael Mackay gave the Luckies the opportunity to win it in the shootout with just 1:18 remaining. McIassac (1-2-3) had three points for the Stampeders, while Glen Kelly (0-4-4) notched four assists in the Luckies win.
Sunday, Williams Lake scorers were Nathan Zurak (2-2-4), McIsaac (1-0-1), Aaron Zurak (1-3-4) and Christopher Bohlin (1-0-1). Houston scorers were Jonathan Marren (2-0-2), Derek Dinelle (2-1-3), and Blair Dinelle (1-2-3). Williams Lakes Willie Sellars stopped 25 of 30 shots in the win.
Next up for the Williams Lake Stampeders are a pair of road games against the Omineca Ice on Nov. 6 and 7.