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Ice Demons CIHL play-off season ends early in close battle in Smithers
The Kitimat Ice Demons were looking uphill as they tried to force a third game in the CIHL West Division first round playoff series in Smithers this past weekend. Down a game from last week's 6-3 loss to Smithers in Tamitik, the numbers situation reversed themselves as Demons were only able to muster 12 skaters and two goalies for the game, which was won, 3-1 by the Smithers Steelheads, with dependable sniper Darryl Young scoring the go-ahead goal at 13.45 of the third period and then cementing the win with an empty-netter with just 25 seconds remaining.
The short-handed Demons were missing some pretty key players as they went to Smithers, minus Jeff Mildenberger, Terry Whelan, Jeremy Brady, Brandon Wakita, Jon Aiken and Matthew Billingsley while the Steelheads had Stu Barnes and Ian Smith draw into their already strong lineup.
Adam DeVries (Randall Groot, Stu Barnes) gave Steelheads the lead in a closely played first period, at 17.12, and that held up through the period and into the second when Ian Coleman got the Demons into a 1-1 tie after some hard work by Derek DeLisser and Nick Markowski, at 1.55. A dour struggle ensued through the remainder of the second and well into the third when Groot and Devries combined to set up Young for the go-ahead goal at 13.45.
Coach Mike Steponavicius, with the one-goal lead holding out, pulled goaltender Brett Vilness for a sixth attacker and Darryl Young was able to connect with the empty-net goal with just 25 seconds remaining.
Smithers outshot the Demons 50-23, but held the biggest edge, 21-9 in the third as the Demons were pushing for the tying goal.
It was a clean, hard-hitting and fast game as Smithers were shorthanded four times with minors and the Demons three times, again, all minors. There were no special-teams goals in the game. The result means that the Ice Demons will likely not qualify for the Coy Cup in Williams Lake in March, for the first time in the last several years. However, the contestants are unknown at this time, beyond the host and reigning Coy Cup Champion Stampeders.
Only the Williams Lake Stampeders ended their playoff series in two in the east, defeating the Lac La Hache Tomahawks by a score of 7-3 on home ice with four third period goals (including an empty net goal) blowing the Tomahawks away after two pretty evenly played periods.
The Quesnel Kangaroos stretched their series to three games, after losing in Houston last week, but narrowly taking the Houston Luckies, Saturday night by a score of 4-3. Quesnel established an early four goal lead and sat back to watch Houston battle back with three straight goals to just fall short.
Favoured Terrace, surprised by the Prince Rupert Rampage at home last week, scored a 6-1 victory over the Rampage on Terrace ice, but let discipline slip away late and and face one player suspended for fighting in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Rampage however, were missing three players for the Sunday finale.
It proved too much, for the visitors and Terrace recovered well scoring seven goals in succession, with the shutout spoiled late in the game in a 7-1 finish to see Terrace move on to the next round against the Smithers Steelheads.
In the Sunday game between the Kangaroos and the Houston Luckies a 3-3 tie was broken in the third period by Quesnel, to give them a 4-3 win and a pass to the second round against the Williams Lake Stampeders.
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