Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Defensive play not a focus for regular season finale for Steelheads and Rampage

The final game of the 2016-17 Regular season for the Smithers Steelheads and Prince Rupert Ramapge pretty well looks to have resembled a somewhat messy game of pond hockey.

One where the goals were frequent and defensive play appears to have been but a suggestion.

With little on the line for the visiting Rampage other than what in effect was a real time scrimmage. The Saturday night matchup in Smithers made for a tune up skate for the start of the CIHL playoffs, with the Steelheads reaching double digits in an 11 - 6 victory over their guests from Prince Rupert.

The home side Steelheads took an early lead in game in the first twenty minutes, jumping out to 2 goal advantage before the seven minute mark, coming out of the gate fast and setting the tone for the offensive burst that lay ahead.

The Rampage for their part, did offer up a an answer towards that push from the Smithers squad as Kory Movald gained one back at the eight minute point with an assist going to Jared Meers.

Marcus Atchison also chipped away at the deficit with a marker at 14:39, helped by an assist from Jean Luc-Fouriner.

However, as the first period came to an end, the Steelheads appeared to be in control of things building to a 5-2 lead at the first intermission.

Whatever comments were made between periods must have hit home with the hometown side, which came out to send a message in the middle frame. With entries found on both the score sheet and in the penalty listings, as Smithers rattled off four unanswered goals in the second period to take a commanding 9-2 lead at the end of forty minutes.

The scoring outburst unfolded while a number of personal scores appeared to be settled on the ice in a busy second period for the officials. The middle period saw a parade to the penalty box and in some instances towards banishment, with Smithers Devon Hayhurst and Jean-Luc Fournier from the Rampage both earning misconducts for their extra curricular greetings.

Penalties would also form the narrative for much of period three, but this time in a way that would benefit the visiting Rhinos, who scored four goals in the final frame, two of them thanks to power play opportunities.

The scoring outburst came after Smithers had made it 10 - 2 in the first minute of the third and the Rampage push back started less than a minute later as Jared Meers picked up the third goal of the game with an assist going to Jacob Santurbano.

Seven minutes later Santurbano would pick up another assist, getting in on Kory Movald's scoring play on the power play, making for his second marker on the night.

Tyler Matalone would continue the Rampage advance with two goals of his own in less than a minute, his first a power play marker at 13:50 assisted by Thomas Robinson and Jordan Venditelli.

While his second of the night and the final goal of the evening for the Rhinos came at 14:39 with Jared Carter and Marcus Atchison picking up the helpers.

Smithers wrapped up the avalanche of scoring opportunities with one final marker on the night at 15:49, nursing home the 11-6 lead to victory at the the final buzzer.

Smithers bad behaviour on the ice through the third period pushed their penalty totals for the night to 33 minutes served, on 11 infractions. The Rampage totals on the night found Prince Rupert assessed five penalties for a total of 21 minutes.

Brett Roth and Jordan Vanderweil split the night's duties in the net for Prince Rupert, with each working thirty minutes of play.  Roth made 21 saves on 28 saves, while Vanderweil turned aside 20 of the 24 shots that he was faced with.

Smithers also split the goaltending on the night, facing a total of 53 shots over the sixty minutes of play.

You can review the full summary from Saturday night here.

The season finale sets the scene for the playoff round, the victory putting the Steelheads into a first place tie with Williams Lake, though the Stampeders hold the season advantage on difference between Goals For and against.

The CIHL has not as of yet outlined what the playoff schedule ahead is going to look like.

A review of the regular season, along with links to a range of notes on the CIHL can be found here

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