Fort St. John Flyers beat Smithers Steelheads 5-3 last night, knocking Steelheads out of the tournament with two losses, no points, and one more round robin game tonight against Terrace.
Both the usual Steelheads goalies were unable to make the Coy Cup, so the team played their first game with Kitimat goalie Brandon Highton and tonight with 17-year-old Smithers-born goalie Owen Sikkes, who plays for the Golden Rockets in Golden B.C.
The Steelheads came into the game strong, and earned a 1-0 lead right off the faceoff, with Randall Groot capitalizing on a rebound.
But just two minutes later, the Flyers tied up the game 1-1, with Adam Horst firing it in from the left side.
Both teams seemed quite evenly matched, fast and skilled in their play. They played back and forth, with players intercepting passes, stealing the puck, and circling fast around the ice.
With five minutes left in the first, there was a pile up in front of the Flyers net, and Steelhead Brayden Taekema skated in and tipped the puck in from the right side.
Second period, both teams came out hard and strong, with teams quite evenly moving the puck back and forth.
Three Flyers, Brady Busche, Adam Horst and Jeff Shipton launched an offensive onslaught three minutes into the second, coming down the ice together. Shipton took a pass across at the red line and fired it in from the right side.
That tied up the game 2-2.
Three minutes later, Flyers took the lead 3-2, with Shipton landing a shot from the right side.
Though Steelheads played strong, and possession of the puck was fairly even, they struggled to get shots off.
Towards the end of the second, Flyers earned a 4-2 lead, with Ryan Carter scoring a snapshot from the right side.
Both teams came out strong and hard again in the third.
Five minutes in, Smithers Randall Groot came in on the left side and landed a slap shot from the red line, bringing up the score 3-4.
Teams could not capitalize for the rest of the period, and Smithers pulled their goalie for the last two minutes.
They managed a few shots but then the Flyers managed to get a shot off, earning a 5-3 lead which ended the game.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted but it’s okay,” said Steelhead captain Ian Smith.
“We had a fairly good game I would say, just not as many bounces as they got. They’re a good team again. There is no easy team here. Playing a one goal game (besides the empty netter), it’s not what we want but if we play okay, then we can handle it.”
Asked if the change in goaltenders affected the team, Smith said no.
“We had a seventeen year old kid play today and he played awesome, and heighton played really well yesterday,” he said. “Our problem isn’t our goal tending that’s for sure. We’re just not creating enough chances.”
Smithers will face off against Terrace River Kings tomorrow at 7 p.m.
“It’s a good rivalry between us, so hopefully it is a good game,” Smith said.
So far in the Coy Cup round robin, Terrace and Fort St. John are in the lead with three points each. They each won one game and tied each other on Tuesday. Whitehorse is next with two points, having beat Smithers but lost to Terrace. Smithers is last, having lost both their games so far.
But with the points so close, everything still hinges on today’s games.
Whitehorse plays Fort St. John at 4 p.m. and Terrace plays Smithers at 7 p.m. today, March 24.
The top ranked team from the round robin will get a bye into Saturday’s finals. The second and third ranked team will face off in the semi finals on Friday, March 25.