Letters to the Editor

Demons defang short-bench Wolverines

Despite a Saturday night 12-2 blowout by the Ice Demons, the Hazelton Wolverines added a couple of players Sunday, changed goalies and showed why they have picked up some points in the CIHL western division, despite losing 6-2, at the end of what turned out to be a decent hockey game.

The Wolverines came ready to make up for the Saturday loss, and despite getting out of the first period scoreless, the Demons prevailed late in the game for the full four points from the weekend.

Kitimat found their lines were a bit shuffled due to shift work Sunday. Terry Whelan worked and Daniel Mayer reported in sick. Then the Demons lost Jeremy Morden early in the game when he was taken by stretcher to hospital after a head on hit into the boards. 

Brent Mailloux was also lost to injury early in the game, causing coach Mike Steponavicius to go with three rotating centres, Chris Vilness, Craig Hewitson and Jonnie Aiken.

Kitimat wasn't totally on its game and Hazelton, with at least two additional players in Skye Jones and Kirby Muldoe, seemed determined to be better than Saturday night.

With Cody Smith in net (he gave up only a single goal in replacing Cory Croft at the 11-1 stage Saturday) maintaining a great game, he showed that a hot goaltender can keep you in contention.

There was no scoring in the first, probably a first for this season for Hazelton.

Smith made numerous good saves in the first as Demons out shot the Wolverines 15-10.

Only two penalties were called in the period, both to the Wolverines for holding.

It was 2-1 for the Demons at the end of the second as Hazelton played smart hockey blocking shots and clearing the puck relentlessly out of their own end.

Smith kept up the great work in goal but with just 2.10 gone in the period, Jeremy Brady scored on a great shot to the corner behind Smith, with assists going to Ian Coleman and Jeff Mildenberger.

Hazelton seemed to wait patiently for chances and a coughed-up puck by the Demons in their own end opened the door for Amadee Marshall to equalize with nine minutes gone in the second (Stu Barnes and Mitch Marshall).

 Blaine Markwart got that one back (Coleman and Brad Owen) after Craig Hewitson liberated the puck in the corner.

The Demons out shot the Wolverines 14-9 to illustrate how well Smith was performing in net.

The Demons got their game going in the third and goals by Hewitson (Markwart and Mildenberger) extended the lead to 3-1 before Markwart made it 4-1 from Coleman and Vilness.

With 12 minutes remaining Hewitson lost a rare face-off in his own zone and Wolverines pounced, Larry Skulsh putting a nice one high into the top corner past Jamie Moran, to make it 4-2. Assists went to Al Tolmie and Mitch Hobensheid.

But that was it for the Wolverines' heroics and although Smith made several spectacular saves, he was beaten twice more by Coleman (Mildenberger, Vilness) and Gerard Baldo, (Hewitson, Mildenberger) for the 6-2 loss.

Overall shots were Demons 49, Wolverines 31 and penalties were Demons, four minutes, and Wolverines, 24 minutes, including a 10 minute misconduct and a two minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Marshall, after he shot a puck at a Demon player after`the play was whistled dead.

These occurred in the middle period and didn't really impact on the result of the game, as the Demons eventually wore down the Wolverines’ defense.

On Saturday night, a curious crowd of about 900 turned out for the first meeting between the Ice Demons, last year’s CIHL and Coy Cup provincial champions, and the newest team in the CIHL West Division, the Hazelton Wolverines. 

Any suggestion the Demons might be taking the Wolverines lightly was dispelled in the first period when the Demon started cautiously and didn’t get a shot in the first five minutes.

The Wolverines, with only 14 skaters and two goalies, started well but quickly lost their legs on the big ice surface at Tamitik and were thoroughly out-played throughout the Saturday game.

However, they didn’t give up and kept working in an under-manned situation, as the Demons kept rolling over four lines to keep fresh legs on the ice.

 But when the scoring started, the Demons used speed and the width of the big ice to keep the short-handed Wolverines off balance, finishing the first period 6-0.

Centre Alex Krekic, playing in only his fourth game for the Demons scored the first of the night with just over six minutes passed, banging home a crossing play from Whelan and Mildenberger after goaltender Cory Croft made a couple of good stops. 

Croft heard the iron ring on a point shot from Paul Plante before Daniel Mayer, Demons’ leading goal scorer, got his first of two on the night, assisted by Jeremy Brady and Gerard Baldo.

And just 40 second later, Brady scored again, finishing off a similar passing play, with assists to Mayer and Baldo.

The Demons kept pressing and the Wolverines were looking uncomfortable with the speed and the extra size of the ice.

Markwart (Coleman, Plante) made the score 4-0 at the 14.20 mark of the period and then on his next shift Markwart set up Hewitson for the first of his hat-trick in the game. 

With 2.40 left in the period the two combined again in under 35 seconds when Markwart sent Hewitson off from his own blue line, with a short pass from in front of the Demons crease and he went through the whole team for a goal that gave Croft no chance to stop.

Demons out-skated and out-shot the Wolverines by a margin of 13-9, although Brett Vilness in the Demons’ net was forced to make a couple of good grab saves from Amadee Marshall, Mitch Marshall and Mitch Hobenschied.

The Demons added five more goals in the second period from Chris Vilness (Krekic, Whelan), Coleman (Markwart), Hewitson (Markwart) and Gerard Baldo (Mayer), while Mitch Marshall spoiled Vilness’s shut-out effort at the 13.50 mark of the period, batting home an Amadee Marshall rebound.

The score at the end of the second period was 11-1 Demons, with the Demons out-shooting the Wolverines 19-6.

The Demons added a goal in the third, by Whelan (Mayer) and Amadee Marshall got his second point of the night with a goal five minutes into the period, assisted by Stu Barnes.

The Wolverines put on a better effort in the third and forced the Demons into numerous turnovers, one of which resulted in the Marshall goal. 

But shots were 15-6 for the Demons, resulting in a 47 to 21 game total.

It was a tame game with regards to hitting, although Demon’s Scott McGregor was ejected from the game for hitting from behind on Al Tolmie, who reacted after the whistle and earned a roughing penalty to negate the advantage for the Wolverines.

Total penalties called were 30 minutes to the Demons and 16 for the Wolverines. Owen took a four minute penalty for an accidental high stick that cut Amadee Marshall while Ryan Muldoe sat for four minutes for spearing Mildenberger after the Demon hooked him.

Demons next travel to Hazelton’s smaller arena this weekend for two more games against the Wolverines.

 Also on Saturday night the Terrace River Kings - already out of playoff contention, played spoilers by putting a dent in Smithers Steelheads efforts to win a playoff slot with a 4-2 win at Smithers.

  In other games the Williams Lake Stampeders proved resilient, winning two games against the surging Omenica Ice in Vanderhoof and Fraser Lake. Stamps won 7-6 in a nail-biter Saturday and 5-1 in an anti-climactic Sunday event.

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