The Terrace River Kings need two straight wins in Williams Lake next weekend, after suffering a tough 2-4 loss here last night, March 4.
The score was close all game, but the River Kings lost it after pulling their goalie at the end and swallowing an empty netter from Williams Lake.
The game started out strong for the River Kings, with Corey Dekelver burying a goal just two minutes into the first.
With fresh energy driving the teams, it was good back and forth hockey.
Williams Lake tied it up six minutes later and the teams battled out the rest of period at 1-1.
Caption: Luke Gordon narrowly misses a chance.
Teams hit the ice aggressively in the second, and just after the first minute, Luke Walker took a pass in front of the net and fired the puck in to earn the River Kings a 2-1 lead.
But Williams Lake responded with a goal of their own just a minute and a half later.
The 2-2 tie lasted most of the second period, but at seven minutes the Stampeders managed to flip one in from the right side.
With the game at 2-3 for the away team, third period was a bit of a scramble for the River Kings.
They struggled to tie things up, but found a final burst after Luke Gordon fired a slapshot that dinged off the crossbar.
Slightly renewed energy amped up the game for the final few minutes, and the River Kings pulled their goalie at the end for a final push.
But with a minute and a half left on the clock, a pass bounced off the side board onto a Stampeder stick.
He fired it into the empty net to seal to deal 2-4 for Williams Lake.
Caption: Brett Downie fires a shot on net.
That ended game one of the best-of three final series, and the River Kings hit the road next weekend, March 11-12, for game two and three.
The winning team will take the CIHL title and despite last night’s loss, captain Steve Cullis is optimistic.
“We’ll be ready to go,” he said, recalling a similar showdown there two years ago.
“Last time we won the league, it was in Williams Lake,” said Cullis. “We’ve played some good games there.”
Coach Kevin Legros said it will be a challenge, but he believes the team can do it.
“It’s going to be tough to win two games in Willimas Lake,” he said. “They’re a good team. They play well at home and they’re missing a few key players, so we’re going to have to definitely bring our ‘A’ game.”
But he’s not counting the team out.
“We do have a chance… and the guys are still positive in the dressing room,” he commented.
“I said at the start of the year that we have the tools to do it, and I’m hoping we can finish it off.”
The team who wins the CIHL title next weekend, earns a spot in the B.C. Coy Cop Championship, where the River Kings have taken second place for the last three years.
Caption: Luke Walker narrows in on the net at the River Kings game against Williams Lake last night.
Caption: Robert Orrey launches a shot on net.
Bottom photo caption: Liam Albright takes the puck up the ice.