The Terrace River Kings came up just shy of repeating as the Central Interior Hockey champions over the weekend.
On Sunday afternoon (March 12) the Quesnel Kangaroos won the third and deciding game in the CIHL championship round over the Kings.
The Roos, playoff champions of the CIHL east division as well as the league’s regular season, dropped the first game in the series versus the west division champion River Kings. Terrace won on March 4 on their home ice by a final score of 6-5 in OT. Roos team captain Alessio Tomassetti said it was one they let slip away.
“Game 1 we were up the whole game then they tied it up late and won it overtime,” he said. “But home ice is another story.”
Indeed. But only by the slimmest of margins. In Game 2 on Quesnel ice, it was the Kangaroos who came out on top in OT, this time by a 3-2 score. The River Kings broke a 1-1 tie with less than two minutes left in the game, but the frantic Roos forced overtime with only 43 seconds left on the clock.
Then, they got the fans to leap out of their seats with the overtime winner only two minutes into the added frame. It might have been the most eventful four minutes of hockey in the history of West Fraser Centre (WFC).
“We told each other going into overtime, let’s try ending this earlier, use the fans as a sixth man out there, and that’s exactly what we did,” said Tomassetti. “Game plan worked.”
Game 3 was a fully charged all-the-marbles atmosphere on Sunday. With a 1 p.m. puck-drop, it was a festive mood with the hometown crowd knowing it was about to witness the handing out of the CIHL trophy. The only question was, which team would get to raise the trophy?
The game stayed close, but the Kangaroos pulled away in the third period and took the game, league and trophy by a score of 5-3.
But this is not the end of the season for the Roos, or their opponents. As host team, Quesnel already had a bye into the upcoming Coy Cup provincial championship. As the next best team in the CIHL standings, Terrace will also be admitted to the tournament that runs March 28-April 1. The grudge will belong to the River Kings, but the momentum will belong to the Roos.
“You battle for it all year. It’s huge,” said Tomassetti. “This is huge for us. We said from day one this is where we wanted to be and all the hard work has paid off. Now that we have won our way into the Coy, a whole new chapter starts. Another step has to be taken to get the job done here. Everyone knows how hard it is and are going to use this momentum to keep running into the Coy.”