The Terrace River Kings are out of the running for the CIHL championship after being halted in their 3-game playoff win streak by Smithers Steelheads last weekend.
On Saturday, Feb. 20, the River Kings lost 5-2 to Steelheads.
They played a strong game, but a lapse at the end of the second period cost them three goals and ultimately the game, said River Kings captain Steve Cullis.
Steelheads scored only one goal in the first period, and then Terrace’s Luke Gordon tied up the game early in the second. The game was back and forth until the last four minutes of the second period, when Steelheads scored three goals in a row, making it 4-1 going into the third.
“We just made some uncharacteristic mistakes and they got some good chances and scored on them,” Cullis said.
That five minute lapse made the difference in the game, he added.
“Instead of going into the dressing room tied 1-1 after two periods, you’re down 4-1 which is kind of deflating.”
In the third period, Terrace’s Gordon scored a second goal and Steelheads scored one more, resulting in a 5-2 loss for the Kings.
That put the teams even, each with one win, and facing off in a third series game on Sunday, Feb. 21.
The River Kings hit the ice in that first period confident and strong.
“We came out and we were flying,” Cullis said. “We played one of our best periods maybe that we played all year. We were up 2-0 after that first period.”
“The second was pretty similar. We played well, we were up 4-1 at one point and then another lapse,” Cullis said.
With six minutes left in the second period, Steelheads scored in what Cullis called “a lucky goal.”
Right after that, River Kings took a kneeing penalty, giving Steelheads a two minute power play where they scored another goal.
“Then they were right back in it,” Cullis said, commenting that going into the third at 4-3 with a one goal lead changed the feeling significantly.
Steelheads tied up the game halfway through the third, then River Kings scored again to take the lead 5-4.
But Steelheads tied up the game against with only three minutes left on the clock, launching the teams into overtime.
Cullis said overtime was marked with strong back and forth play, with both goalies playing strong.
The Kings took an interference penalty two minutes into overtime, and the Steelheads capitalized on the power play to score the game winning goal.
Overall, Cullis said the intensity and closeness of the final game was a fitting way to end the season.
“It was two fairly equal teams. It’s probably the way the series should have ended with two teams like that going into overtime. In overtime anything can happen, it just takes one shot,” he said.
The Steelheads will go on to play Williams Lake in the final CIHL series.
On March 22-26, Terrace will host the Coy Cup, and River Kings will have a chance to face off against the CIHL champions.