IT was a battle of the Sanghas in Kitimat on Wednesday night. Jassi Sangha scored twice as the Williams Lake Stampeders downed the Terrace River Kings 5-4 in 2013 Coy Cup action. The Kings’ Rajan Sangha led the way with 2 goals and 1 assist.
Terrace looked a little lifeless in the first period as Williams Lake jumped out to a 3-1 lead after one period. The team was not skating well and were unable to engage in the physical game. The Stampeders took advantage, peppering goaltender Patrick Leal. He kept the game close as his teammates allowed more quality scoring chances against in the first period than they did in the entire game against Quesnel the night before. The Stamps had a hat trick of goal posts as well.
Whatever was said during the intermission sure fired up the River Kings. The team came out skating fast and hitting hard. They played with purpose and determination and showed they can play with any team in this tournament. They were rewarded early as Corbin Legros and Derek Jurista, on a beautiful pass from Sangha, scored in the opening couple of minutes. The game remained tied 3-3 after two, though Terrace was unfortunate not to have gotten at least one more goal. Jurista and defenseman Lee Muir in particular had wonderful chances to score.
It was Williams Lake’s turn to come out with purpose in the third period, as Jassi Sangha scored his second of the game in the opening moment. They also had a disallowed goal shortly thereafter before Terrace settled the game back down.
Rajan Sangha knotted the score at 4 at 13:31. He has had a great tournament, sparking the River Kings offense and power play. He is a clever player and when he plays with the intelligence he’s shown this week, he can be a game breaker.
But this night ultimately belonged to Williams Lake. Captain Aaron Zurak pulled his team ahead for good at the 12 minute mark, thanks to a spectacular rush.
Terrace had a brilliant chance to tie the game with a 2 minute 5-on-3 power play. The Kings’ power play has looked great in the Coy Cup tournament but could not get untracked when it needed it the most. The Stampeders enthusiastically killed off the penalty, never allowing Terrace to set up, thanks to good ol’ fashion hustle.
That penalty kill seemed to take whatever wind Terrace had left in their sails for the rest of the game. The Kings had another power play opportunity in the offing before the end of the game, only to see Calen Findlay take a coinciding 6 minutes in penalties in a bad lapse of discipline. Instead of another chance to tie the game, Terrace ended up giving the Stampeders a 4 minute power play of their own.
Terrace now plays Kitimat tonight at 8 pm. The Ice Demons are in full control of their own destiny in this tournament. They had a convincing 8-3 win against Quesnel on Wednesday, giving themselves a 2-0 record and assuring a berth in the Coy Cup playoff round. With a win over arch-rival Terrace, Kitimat will earn the top seed in that playoff round and secure the much coveted bye on Friday and guaranteed spot in the championship game on Saturday. The Ice Demons control their dynasty and will bring their “A” game on Thursday.
Terrace will need to do so, as well. They have shown they are as good anyone, but they will need to play inspired and disciplined hockey for a full 60 minutes. A win over Kitimat would be huge, ensuring a playoff spot, and, depending on other outcomes and confusing tie-break rules, possibly the bye. A loss to Kitimat does not necessarily end their Coy Cup dream, but again their destiny would be controlled by other outcomes and tie-breaks. Still, Terrace’s chances at the playoff round look better than Quesnel’s at this stage of the tournament.
Regardless, coach Roger Tooms has a tough decision to make – who to play in goal? His choice will likely play the rest of the Coy Cup tournament. But if the team plays as well as they have shown for stretches this week, it may be a moot point.
The Terrace-Kitimat grudge match could be the best game of the round-robin. Tickets are available at Tamitik Arena before the game. Terrace fans can also buy their tickets in advance at All Season’s Source for Sports in Terrace.
Joe Pelletier is a Terrace, B.C. hockey writer. Visit him at http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com