February 13, 2013, Courtenay, BC – The Glacier Kings clinched second place in the North, and home ice for the opening round of playoffs with a bizarre win over North Island rivals, the Campbell River Storm, on Saturday night.
The game not only marked a successful opportunity for the G Kings to clinch home ice, but also was an opportunity to clinch the locally proud, North Island Cup, which is presented to the team that wins the season long series between the two rivals. Comox Valley Glacier Kings (3) -v- Saanich Braves (8) FINAL
Friday night saw the Comox Valley Glacier Kings hit the road down to Saanich to face the Braves.
Despite coming off the bus flat, the ‘Kings would make their first shot count as Garrett Halls would open the scoring at the 5:41 mark. The ‘Kings would find themselves on their heels through the rest of the period, being outshot 17 – 3 in the opening frame. Goaltender Bryce DiRocco, starting his 3rd game in a row with Hails still out day-to-day with a lower body injury, kept the Yetis in the game by only allowing two goals on the power play to end the period down 2-1.
The ‘Kings would capitalize on a power play to start the second, with skilled forward Rylan Ball tying the game up. Unfortunately for the G-Men, the next twelve minutes would look a lot like the first period. The Glacier Kings all-star defense struggled and Saanich would capitalize with 4 unanswered goals to give the home team a commanding 6-2 lead. With just over five minutes remaining in the period, the Glacier Kings luck would go from bad to worse as they were assessed a five minute major; however, a minor penalty to Saanich would provide a brief 4 on 4 opportunity before the ‘Kings would have to depend on the penalty kill to close out the period. The Glacier Kings would call a time out in hopes of coming out of the 4 on 4 with a goal, and to narrow the lead going into the third frame. This goal would appear successful, as an awake Glacier Kings squad would capitalize on the open ice with a goal from puck moving defenseman Brandon Halls reducing the Braves’ lead to three goals before the end of the period.
Despite coming out in the third period inspired and firing sixteen shots at the Braves netminder, the puck would continue to bounce in favor of Saanich as the Yeti’s would finish the game on the wrong end of a large deficit.
Coach Bill Rotheisler addressed the team’s loss after the game, “It certainly wasn’t the game we were looking for. The positive is that we again showed our resiliency, and that
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we are truly a team that just does not know how to give up, regardless of the deficit. However, despite how great it is not to give up, we have to come out harder and not put ourselves in situations where we have to depend on the puck bouncing the right way, along with outworking the opponent, to win a game. We want to come out hard from the beginning, controlling the play and outcome, regardless of which way the puck is bouncing that night.” Rotheisler added, “We have almost all the players buying in right now, but almost is not enough. At this point in the season, it needs to be 100%. We cannot have one foot in and one foot out, we have to be all in.”
Campbell River Storm (4) -v- Comox Valley Glacier Kings (7) FINAL
On the heels of a tough loss, the Glacier Kings would be challenged with a character game. A game they knew would be a tough battle, in which a win would result in clinching home ice for the Yeti’s, as well as the North Island Cup back from Campbell River, who won the series last season.
With goaltender Michael Hails still out for precautionary reasons, and Bryce DiRocco bearing the majority of starts as of late, the Glacier Kings would call on Denon Maximchuk (4-1) to make his first start since November 18, 2012.
Maximchuk would come out strong making several key saves in the beginning, including flashing a quick pad cross-crease to stop a wide open Storm player from tapping in a 2 on 1 play. Maximchuk was not the only one dialed in under the pressure. The Glacier Kings came out forechecking hard and playing an aggressive style that left the opposition with little opportunity to gain momentum. Three goals by three different lines (Rylan Ball, Wade Bartlett and Jordan Crisp) would put the home team up 3-0 with five minutes remaining in the first period.
After going the entire period without any calls, Campbell River would be given the rest of the period with more than a little opportunity to get something started on their own as Comox would be handed three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the period. Despite the opportunity, the Glacier Kings would kill the 5 vs. 4, 4 vs. 3 and 5 vs. 3 penalties, taking the 3-0 lead and 13-8 shot margin into the second period.
Penalty trouble would continue in the second period for the home team, and they would find themselves holding on to their lead by a 3-2 margin halfway through the period. The resilient Yeti’s would get back on track by controlling much of the play and staying focused through much adversity, including a game clock that stopped working for the rest of the period and an increased physical play by the opposition. Resiliency would again pay off as Wade Bartlett and Rylan Ball would each net their second goal of the night to give the home team a 5-3 edge. Before the second period was over, a scrum in front of the Storm net would escalate into a fully fledged line brawl in which all ten skaters on the ice were assessed a fighting major, including former Glacier King Jordan Kamprath. In addition to the ten skaters, Campbell River goaltender Nic Clark was assessed a two minute minor for roughing after everything was sorted out.
Despite the unusual and fight filled second period that saw a total of 12 fighting majors handed out, and an additional minor on both stoppages for the Storm, the ‘Kings would start the third period with the same momentum they had all game in an exciting and hockey focused period for both teams. Former Storm forward Tyson Rennie, who returned for his second stint with the Glacier Kings in a trade earlier in the season, would score on his former club to increase the lead to 6-3. A hat-trick goal by Storm forward Jon Brumwell would narrow the lead to two; however, a strong net drive by forward John
Gosbee would give him his third point of the evening, and the ‘Kings seventh goal to end the game 7-4.
Securing home ice advantage and the North Island Cup on Saturday night, was a team effort with thirteen Glacier Kings earning points during the win, five players earning two or more points.
Assistant Coach Cameron Knox commented on the team’s play, “We challenged our players to buy in, and made them fully aware of everything that was on the table tonight (referring to the home ice advantage and North Island Cup). They responded by battling physically and mentally through much adversity to remain gelled for the full sixty minutes”. When asked about the six points contributed during the game by the line of John Gosbee, Wade Bartlett and Brook Trainor; Knox responded, “We challenged them privately, as a line, before the game. They have been our best two-way line all year. We told them we wanted to see more offense from them, and that we believed they were capable of more (offense).”
Since former Yeti forward Mitch Ball’s departure to the BCHL, younger brother Rylan has moved up to forward and continued right where Mitch left off. In ten games played since taking over as the only Ball on the team, Rylan has amassed nine goals and four assists, for thirteen points (1.3 PPG).
The Glacier Kings play the Storm again in Campbell River on Friday Night. The Yeti’s close out their regular season in their usual home ice slot: Saturday at 7:30 PM at the Comox Valley Sports Centre. Warm up starts at 7:00 PM.