Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Weekend split keeps Rampage playoff hopes alive

It was a case of one step forward and hold your position for the Prince Rupert Rampage as the hometown hockey club split a weekend series with the Smithers Steelheads.

Saturday night, the Rampage opened up their Winterfest home stand with a comeback 6-5 victory over the Steelheads, highlighted by a third period push that sent the crowd of 360 home in a festive mood.

Things didn't start out in a positive direction on Saturday, with the Steelheads taking a first period lead at the 8 minute mark of the opening frame. A goal answered close to four minutes later by the Rampage as Craig Munro scored on the power play, with assists going to the two Jareds' with both Jared Meers and Jared Davis picking up the helpers.

The early portion of the Second period silenced the usually boisterous home crowd, with a full on attack by the Steelheads who put four goals in the Rampage net in the space of 12 minutes, holding a 5-1 lead closing in on the fifteen minute mark of the second.

The Rampage however made their stand at that point, Kory Movald launching the comeback within seconds of that fifth Steelhead goal. His marker at 14:59 brought the Rampage to within three goals, as he converted touches from Jordan Weir and Greg Sheppard for the second Rampage goal on the night.

The second intermission speech must have been quite the motivating thing, as the Rampage came fired up out of the gate in the final frame, Devin Palmer started the third period push scoring at 3:14 with an assist going to Jared Davis.

Six minutes later Thomas Robinson converted a passing play from Ben Towner and Mike Coolin to bring the Rampage to within one goal.

Twenty seconds later, the Rampage tied things up as Kory Movald picked up his second goal of the night with an assist going to Marcus Atchison.

With the Jim hopping heading into the final ten minutes the Rampage used that momentum to wrestle the victory away from Smithers, the winning goal on the night coming from Mike Coolin at 14:47, with Jared Meers and Jean-Luc Fournier collecting the helpers on win number two on the season.

Not surprisingly with Smithers having blow such a huge lead, the third period became the most physical of the three periods of play, with the Steelheads picking up the bulk of the penalty time from the third, something that didn't help their cause in stemming the Rampage attack.

On the night Smithers was assessed 24 minutes of penalty time on 8 infractions, while the Rampage sat for 10 minutes on five infractions.

Jarrod Hildebrandt picked up the win in the Rampage nets facing 24 shots on the night, while the Steelheads' David Little recorded the loss stopping 17 of the 23 Rampage shots directed his way.

You can review the full summary from Saturday night here.

Sunday afternoon the Steelheads clearly had addressed some of the issues that led to their third period collapse the night before, as the visiting squad took control of the final two periods of the afternoon rematch on the way to a 7-4 victory.

Early on however, things looked good for a Prince Rupert sweep, with the Ramapge showing some grit and finding their scoring range by the time the first period had come to an end.

Prince Rupert picked up three goals in the opening frame of Sunday's game, all of the scoring coming in the final five minutes of the opening period.  Jared Meers recorded the first of three Rampage goals in the first frame, scoring at the 15 minute mark with an assist going to Cole Atchison.

Smithers bounced back with two quick goals heading towards the end of the first, however the Rampage more than answered that first period push back.

Sukhraj Sekhon potted the second Rampage goal of the night at the 19 minute mark, with Marcus Atchison picking put the helper.

Thirty seconds later Jordan Weir, converted a passing play from Greg Sheppard and Kory Movald for a go ahead goal to take the team into the first intermission.

The Rampage continued to put the pressure on Smithers in the second period, as Kory Movald scored near the 11 minute mark to add to the Rampage lead, with Jordan Weir recording the assist on the scoring play.

That set the score at 4-2 at the mid-way point of the game, and as things turned out delivered the wake up call for Smithers, who took control of the play from that point on, aided by a pair of power play opportunities in a penalty filled second period.

Smithers scored three goals in the middle frame, taking a 5-3 lead into the final period.

The third saw Smithers control much of the play and spend a fair amount of time in the Rupert end of the net, yet it was only through a pair of empty net goals that they added to their scoring total for the final period.

The Rampage began their extra attacker approach closing in on the final two minutes of play, Smithers however found the way to stem that attack, picking up the bonus goals to secure that 7-4 final.

David Gerrits faced 35 shots in the Rampage net in the loss, while David Little shut down the Rampage in the final thirty minutes turning said 23 of the 27 shots he faced on the afternoon.

The game once again featured a fair amount of traffic destined for the penalty box, with Smithers assessed 11 penalties for 22 minutes, while Rampage players had 16 minutes to reflect on the play, based on 8 infractions.

The key statistic that perhaps tells the tale of the Sunday match up, the Rampage could not convert any of their  nine power play opportunities on the day into scoring plays, while Smithers gained two goals while holding the man advantage.

345 took in the wrap up to the weekend at the Jim on Sunday afternoon

The full summary of Sunday's game can be found here.

With the weekend split, the Rampage now become scoreboard watchers, currently tied with the Kitimat Ice Demons for the final playoff spot in the West division, the schedule now becomes a bit of an enemy for Prince Rupert.

With the Rampage off the ice until near the end of December, they will be watching closely the scores from this coming weekend.

The Ice Demons will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity to put some distance between themselves and their coastal rivals.

This weekend, Kitimat plays Terrace on Friday and then travel to Smithers for a Saturday night match up with the Steelheads. From a distance, Prince Rupert will no doubt be rooting for decisive victories from Terrace and Smithers by the time next weekend comes to an end.

The Rampage return to CIHL action on the 27th of December, when they travel  to Kitimat, a game which depending on the work of the Ice Demons over the weekend to come, could once again be pivotal to their playoff ambitions.

You can review more on the CIHL from our Schedule/Results page here as well as our Rampage and CIHL News archive page here.

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