The Williams Lake Stampeders, with a 6-2 win over the Quesnel Kangaroos, earned a berth in the Coy Cup 2012 semi-final Friday night as the unbeaten Demons stumbled to a 4-1 loss to the Smithers Steelheads in Thursday’s round – robin action.
The Thursday game results allow Smithers a day off and a bye to the finals on Saturday, in their first run at the Coy Cup, while the Ice Demons and Stampeders vie for the other finals spot Friday at 8 p.m. at the Tamitik Arena in Kitimat.
It was a desperate, but bolstered group of Stampeders that took the eventual control of a hard game against Quesnel and carried a 3-2 lead to a 6-2 final as the Kangaroos faltered after coming back from a 3-0 deficit early in the third to make it 3-2 at the end of the first period.
The experienced Stampeders picked up the pace and stretched their 3-2 lead to 6-2 at the end of the second and played a defensive game throughout the third to win by the same margin.
Matt Lees put the Stamps ahead at the 6:09 mark of the first, (Nathan Zurak, Rory McDade) and Stu Sasges (Josh Lund) extended the lead to 2-0, within a minute. Nathan Zurak made it 3-0 (Matt Lees, Aaron Zurak) made it 3-0 and the Stamps seemed set for an easy win.
The Kangaroos had something to say about that and two goals, a minute apart by Alessio Tomasetti ( assisted on the first by Justin Fulton and Nick Tomasetti, and on the second by Joey Mcdonald and Nick Tomasetti) showed the Kangaroos were not planning to leave early.
But it was all the Kangaroos had other than some fight as the Stampeders experience showed through with second period goals from new arrival Jason Hufty (Sasges, Lund), Wilf Robbins (Brent McIsaac, Joe Morgan) and Joe Morgan (Nathan Zurak and Brent McIsaac) and Quesnel’s first shot at the Coy Cup in the 21st Century was over.
They kept battling, and out-shot the Stampeders 13 to 12 in a stirring third period but they didn’t have the legs.
In the 8 p.m. game, the Kitimat Ice Demons, with four points and no goals against in the first two days of the round robin, came out flat against and aggressive Smithers Steelheads team which took advantage of bad defensive turnovers to take a 2-0 lead in the first period first on a goal that Demons’ claimed was kicked in, by Randall Groot (Darryl Young) and then another flip shot just before the end of the period – 40 seconds left – that was deflected behind Jamie Moran, credited to Adam Devries (Groot, Stu Barnes).
The Ice Demons knew they had had a terrible period of giveaways in their own zone, but credit to the Smithers forecheck, which made the Demons look tentative too often. It didn’t get better in the second period as Eric Smith beat Moran on a flipped back-hander 12 minutes in (Tyler Pederson, Mark Arnold.)
Demons looked dead in the water as Wall seemed to gobble up anything that went near him.
But the Demons had some scrap left and out-shot the Steelheads 15- 6 in the third, but were only able to get one goal back, on a power play, scored by Ian Coleman (Blaine Markwart, Wade Masch) at 7.38 into the third.
Smithers took six penalties in the third period and Demons two, as they two teams went at it.
But Wall and the shut-down defense was the difference…and an unassisted goal by Ian Smith with 1.52 remaining in the game while the Demons were pressing hard, cemented the bye for Smithers.
As they have done a number of times in the Coy Cup over the years, the Demons will need to take the long road, win over Williams Lake to earn another shot at a successful defense of the Cup.
Demons beat Williams Lake on Tuesday and twice in last year’s Coy Cup, in the round robin and final.