IT WAS the kind of game the River Kings needed going into a lengthy break – a solid 6-3 win on the road Oct. 15 over the Prince Rupert Rampage, giving the Terrace squad a 1-2 record in the young Central Interior Hockey League season.
With backup goalie Darren Beaulieau stopping 33 of 36 shots on the night, the Kings began the third period with a 3-1 lead, fending off a two-goal third period by the Rampage and capping the night with a late empty net marker by Tristan Murray to seal the victory.
“There’s a bit of a rivalry now between the two teams and it was good to get the win on the road,” said coach Derek Jurista of the victory.
And the game was not without its moments, particularly in the third as a reflection of that rivalry when seven penalties were handed out in the last minute of the game.
River King Eric VandeVelde figured prominently in the last minute, drawing a fighting major and a game misconduct.
River King Luke Walker also drew a misconduct.
“It’s not the kind of thing you really want to see, particularly after the 10-minute mark of the third as a major then can affect the player in the next game,” said Jurista.
“It does happen but you don’t like to see it happen.”
The River Kings opened the scoring just after the half-way mark of the first when rookie Robert Orrey scored his first goal of the season.
The Rampage countered with a goal late in the first while in the second period, Ben Reinbolt and Brett Downie scored to give the River Kings a 3-1 lead.
Tristan Murray made it 4-1 River Kings just 1:13 into the third but the Rampage countered with two goals before Brett Downie tallied his second of the night to give the Kings a two-goal edge with under two minutes to play.
That was followed by Murray’s second of the night with just 58 seconds left, setting the stage for the fighting and misconduct penalties with 50 seconds left in the game.
The Rampage did outshoot the River Kings 36 to 30 with the Kings taking 58 penalties on 14 infractions compared to 52 penalty minutes on 11 infractions for the Rampage.
The win avenges a 4-2 loss to the Rampage in Terrace Oct. 8 which followed a 5-2 loss to the Smithers Steelheads Oct. 1.
With that road win locked in the minds of the players, the job is now to keep that fresh as the River Kings now have a long gap in their schedule before beginning a three-game home stand which starts with a Nov. 6 match against the Quesnel Kangaroos.
“It’s like the Christmas break and the all-star break all rolled into one,” said Jurista.
“We’re going to work to keep it going. We’ll have practices but there’s nothing like a game to keep it together.”
The team is fortunately light on injuries so far this season and while a couple of players have the flu, they’ll be recovered before the Quensel match, Jurista added.
The Williams Lake Stampeders are in town for the team’s second game on home ice Nov. 11 while the Kitimat Ice Demons visit Nov. 18.
“There’s nothing like playing in front of our fans,” said Jurista. “The players really appreciate them.”
The River Kings return to the road the next night in Prince Rupert to rekindle their rivalry with the Rampage.