The Bantam Tier 2 provincials dropped the puck Sunday, with the Rossland-Trail double-A Bantams taking on Williams Lake in their opening match.
The Tier 2 Bantam Smoke Eaters came out tentative, but got better as the game wore on and skated to a convincing 3-0 win.
“They came out good, a little bit nervous to start the game, a few jitters, but they kept it pretty simple and won,” said assistant coach Steve Robinson.
Cole Gallo earned the shut out in net and Nolan DeRosa popped in two, including the winner with 2:17 to go in the first period. Speedy forwards, DeRosa and Spencer McLean flew in on a 2-on-1 but the Williams Lake D-man broke up the play, sending the puck into the corner. DeRosa stuck with it, snaring the puck behind the net, circling in front and snapping a high shot through a crowd to put the R-T Bantams up 1-0.
The Bantam Smokies applied a ton of pressure in the second period but solid goaltending from Williams Lake’s Griffen Outhouse frustrated the R-T forwards. Outhouse stopped breakaways by McLean, Sam Swanson and Ross Armou. It wasn’t until the 3:27 mark of the second when Armour sent a nice centering pass to DeRosa, alone in front, who sniped it low-glove side to give Rossland-Trail a 2-0 lead.
“Their goalie was good, I think he probably had 40 or 50 shots, he made some big saves and kept them in the game.”
As well as generating numerous scoring opportunities with their speed and pin-point passing, the Rossland-Trail side played well defensively, shutting down the Williams Lake attack and limiting scoring opportunities, and, while Gallo wasn’t overly busy, he made some big saves whenever called upon.
The R-T Bantams played Mission in a late game Sunday night but the score was unavailable at press time.
Mission tied Cranbrook 3-3 in an earlier game and are expected to be a tough test for the home side.
“We’re playing a pretty strong team and we know that, so if we win that we’re in the chase, so it’s a big game for us,” said Robinson.
A win should guarantee the team a spot in the playoffs Tuesday.
In other matches, Campbell River defeated Fort St. John 13-2, and the Westside Bantam Warriors came back to beat Burnaby Winter Club 5-3.
Westside was down 3-2 until the Warriors’ Jesse Mills, a Castlegar native, tied it with just under four-minutes to go in regulation, then scored the winner a minute later. Westside added an empty netter with 20 seconds on the clock for the 5-3 win.