The Terrace River Kings are advancing into the semi-finals against Whitehorse tonight, March 31, after a 3-2 victory over North Island Capitals.
The Capitals put the pressure on hard last night and though the River Kings struggled defensively, goalie Jared Rathjen was on fire.
“Jared played unbelievable,” praised coach Kevin Legros. “He once again stole us another win.”
Legros says the River Kings didn’t play their best, especially at first, but progressively improved as the game went on.
“North Island had to win to have a chance to get into the semis, so they came hard all game,” he said.
“They put the pressure on us right from the start of the game, and I think we just weren’t ready for them.”
The Capitals led the scoring with a goal near the end of the first.
Early in the second Luke Walker took possession of the puck and drove down the left side. He carved around a Capitals defenceman and deked out the goalie to tie the game 1-1.
Caption: Forward Tristan Murray stands ready to scoop a rebound against North Island Capitals.
The Capitals took the lead again in the third period with an early goal, but Will Orrey buried the puck top corner shortly after to tie it 2-2.
With the River Kings just needing a tie to advance, Legros said they dumped pucks deep and focused on defence for most of the third.
“We were essentially getting pucks deep into their zone and had one guy forechecking to protect the tie,” he said.
The Capitals, desperate for a win, pulled their goalie for the final minutes of the game and River Kings captain Steve Cullis scooped an empty netter to seal the game 3-2.
The Capitals are now headed home having lost all three games. Kelowna Sparta tied with Whitehorse Huskies 5-5 in their match last night, so Kelowna took the bye to finals with a 2-0-1 game record.
Terrace finished second with two wins and one loss, and Whitehorse got third with a 1-1-1 game record.
The semi-final match is tonight at 7 p.m. against the Huskies, and will be live streamed here by City West.