With a very short bench for a road trip last weekend, the watchword for the Terrace River Kings was survival.
But the defending champions came out of it better than just surviving with one win and one loss with only 11 skaters.
“Hopefully our first game goes smooth and no one gets hurt or banged up,” said general manager Germaine Francoeur on Friday. “That’s the end goal here. When you play back to back, especially on the road, you hope no one gets hurt.”
While the Kings lost the first game to the Nechako Northstars 4-1 in Vanderhoof on Saturday, they were still in good enough shape to take on the Steelheads in Smithers Sunday afternoon.
That game was a high-scoring affair with both the home and visiting teams putting up seven markers through the end of regulation time. But in overtime it was Terrace who prevailed for the 8-7 victory.
The Kings have had a mixed season thus far, now with five wins, four losses, and one overtime loss.
The Kings remain in second place in the western division four points up on the Hazelton Wolverines, although the Wolverines do have one game in hand. The win against Smithers also improved their standing to fourth place overall in the eight-team league. The Steelheads also have games in hand.
Prior to the weekend Colin Bell led the team in points, having secured eight goals and 13 assists to that point of the season, placing him in seventh place overall in the league.
Goalies Patrick Leal and Marshall Wilson had save percentages of .803 and .867 respectively, for a combined average of .840.
Their Saturday opponents from Vanderhoof remain in seventh place in the league. Smithers drops to fifth place, remaining in third place in the East Division behind powerful Quesnel and Williams Lake squads.
Francoeur feels good about the team, noting that they’ve lost close games that could have gone either way. But with a number of the team unavailable due to work schedules and prior commitments, Francoeur was focused on keeping the players safe above all else on the road.
The Smithers Steelheads will be in Terrace for a rematch this weekend, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.
That game will include a teddy bear toss. When Terrace scores their first goal, fans are encouraged to toss mittens, gloves, and teddy bears onto the ice, which will then be donated to local charities in town.