Stamps show fortitude in marathon road trip north

The Williams Lake Stampeders picked up three of a possible six points

The Williams Lake Stampeders picked up three of a possible six points during what head coach Al Navrot called a marathon road trip during the weekend.

After winning their season opener last weekend in Quesnel, Williams Lake embarked on a three-day whirlwind road trip north taking on the Terrace River Kings, the Prince Rupert Rampage and the Kitimat Ice Demons in a Central Interior Hockey League tour.

Friday, Williams Lake was edged 5-4 in double overtime in a tough contest against the River Kings, before the Rampage dealt the lakecity squad a 5-1 defeat Saturday night in Prince Rupert. Sunday, in Kitimat, Williams Lake answered back with a 7-5 triumph to move their regular season record to two wins, one loss and one overtime loss just two weeks into the season.

“It was a tough weekend, but it was a good weekend,” Navrot said, who liked the effort he saw on the ice from his players. “We’ve got a bunch of warriors, and I think we’ve got a good team. They found ways to have success, and it was a good team-building weekend.”

Navrot said opening the road trip with a double-overtime slug-fest wore on his players’ fatigue, however, the team kept it together to come out for two solid games to close out the weekend.

READ MORE: Al Navrot announced as 2019/20 Williams Lake Stampeders head coach

“Against Rupert, we kept it close. It was 2-1 for them about the five minute mark of the third period and we just didn’t have the legs to keep up. We had our chances, though. We were hitting cross bars and it showed me where we are at to keep it close. Rupert’s got a pretty good team this year.”

Sunday, Navrot said the team came out strong against the Ice Demons.

“Cody Hodges, we picked him up from Chase, he had four goals Sunday,” Navrot said. “He’s deadly.”

Following each game, Navrot and the Stamps select a game star.

Luke Johnny was awarded the game star Friday night, newcomer Cody Koskimaki garnered the honour Saturday and, with his four goals, Hodges picked up the nod Sunday.

“I’m really excited to see where this goes,” Navrot said. “We’ve just got to keep the pieces moving along. I’ve got a good co-coach with Dave Lauzon and Mike [Yonkman] has been an excellent general manager.”

Longtime Stamp and former junior player Kurtis Bond was also recently named captain of this year’s team.

READ MORE: Stamps take season opener on road versus ‘Roos

Navrot said Bond is a solid, steady and consistent leader on the ice and in the dressing room.

“I’m a new coach to the team this year, and it’s taken a bit of time to see things, but I just watched him on the bench and listened to him in Quesnel and he makes really good decisions when the stress, adversity comes,” Navrot said. “He keeps the boys together and they respect him, you can tell. We’ve got some good leadership, some good core players and it feels really good to be a part of this.”

The Williams Lake Stampeders will take a well-deserved break this weekend before they host their home opener this following Saturday, Oct. 19 when they welcome the Quesnel Kangaroos to the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Puck drop is 7:30 p.m.

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Opponents collide during action between the Prince Rupert Rampage and Williams Lake Stampeders. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Alex Kurial / The Northern View photos Williams Lake Stampeders forward Cody Koskimaki squares off in the face-off circle during a tilt with the Prince Rupert Rampage Saturday night.

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