By Shaun Thomas - The Northern View
Published: December 21, 2010 11:00 PM
The Prince Rupert Rampage took a stronger hold of first place in the CIHL western conference as they edged out the Terrace River Kings in a hard fought, physical game on Friday night.
The Rampage found themselves shorthanded with back-to-back penalties within five minutes of the puck dropping, but were able to kill off both penalties and strike first on the scoreboard. A shot from the point hit netminder Craig Walsh but was stuffed home by Chris Brlecic who was right on the doorstep with 12:32 to play. After some good back and forth play and good opportunities on both ends, the River Kings Derek Jurista went low on Rampage goalie Dan Lorette to even things up with 4:18 to go. Both Walsh and Lorette made some key saves late in the period to leave things tied at one going into the second.
Less than 90 seconds into the second Brett Stava banged home a shot from the corner to put Rupert up by one, and the rough-stuff and pile-up that followed set the stage for a physical period of play. After putting one off the post with 8:59 to go a low shot through traffic from the blue line got by Lorette and was credited to Tristan Murray to even things up at two with 4:37 to go, and Garrett Kerr’s goal less than a minute later put the River Kings up 3-2 heading into the third.
The first half of the period saw a lot of offensive chances on both ends, but it was the Rampage who would light the goal lamp as Trevor Clouthier batted down a pass from the corner past Walsh with 8:38 to go. Tied at three the crowd got behind the home team and that energy paid off as Brlecic put a wrister high over Walsh’s shoulder with 5:48 to play. With less than 90 seconds left the River Kings pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but JT Ward fired the puck from his own end into the open net. And after the players got into a bit of a scrum after the horn sounded, the Rampage saluted the home crowd and skated off with the 5-3 victory.
“It was a complete team effort. The guys were out there and playing for each other,” said Brlecic.
“Going into the third we just said ‘we’re in first and we’re going to hold on to first’. The mentality was that if you came back to the bench and you weren’t tired, then you didn’t do your job...Last year we thought we could play with any team in the league, but there were games where we didn’t show up in the third period. Now the guys are seeing that you need to play for the whole 60 minutes to be successful,” added head coach Frank Pyde.
With the win the Rampage remain undefeated at home, something Pyde says the team will look to continue into the end of the season, the playoffs and beyond.
“We’re undefeated here and we owe it to the fans to give our best effort every time. It’s a source of pride for the boys, and we take a lot of pride when we’re at home in the white jerseys,” said Pyde.
“We’ve got the number one fans in the league, and we feed off their energy. When they’re up off their seats and cheering, it just gives us an extra boost,” added Brlecic.
The team sits in first in the west with three games left – one against Kitimat on the road and two against the visiting Houston Luckies –two points ahead of the Kitimat Ice Demons and four ahead of the Terrace River Kings.
“We need to win in Kitimat, that is our challenge. We’ve had difficulty in the past, but it’s something we can do,” said