Kootenay Ice shut out by Wheat Kings to end prairie road trip

Team outlasted by Brandon in competitive finale to back-to-back weekend series in Manitoba

It took the Kootenay Ice over 12 minutes to register their first shot on Saturday night, and they didn’t find the back of the net all game.

Playing the Brandon Wheat Kings on the road for a second straight day, the Ice were shut out 2-0 in a close but frustrating outing.

“We had a lot of good chances, [especially] on our power play [but] we just needed to get more bodies to the net and bang in some rebounds,” said captain Cale Fleury after the game. “We just needed to grind it out a bit more.”

While the Ice were competitive the entire night in Brandon, they had trouble burying their chances while missing some key players.

With Peyton Krebs representing Team Canada Red at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, Jeff de Wit out with an injury and Vince Loschiavo also being a scratch for the night, Kootenay was behind the eight ball before puck drop.

After having managed a 4-2 win the night before, they were also facing a much more desperate home group in the first period of their rematch.

Getting plenty of pucks on net and piling up chances, Brandon was the better team to start the game. Even while giving up two power plays, the Wheat Kings kept the Ice at bay in the early stages.

While Keenan Taphorn hit a post and Bailey Brkin was phenomenal in net, Kootenay let in the game’s first goal at the end of the opening frame.

In a spectacular solo effort, Cole Reinhardt hit a post and collected his own rebound to give the Wheat Kings momentum going into the first intermission.

In the second period, the game was given a jolt of physicality, which resulted in big hits and a fight between Brett Davis and 16-year-old rookie Ben McCartney. As unlikely combatants, the bout did not last long, but set a tone for the rest of the night.

A chippy, heated match unfolded as neither team found a way to produce significant offensive chances and were also stymied by strong goalies.

Although Kaeden Taphorn almost put in a tying marker in a mad scramble to end the middle session, 20-year-old Logan Thompson was too sharp as he made one of his 23 saves of the night.

Brkin and Thompson continued to duel in the final period, with both netminders making necessary saves and keeping the game at 1-0.

At the midway point, Brandon finally managed to get an insurance marker, however, as defenceman Kale Clague threw a high wrister from the point on net and Rylan Bettens tipped it past Brkin.

From there, other than a dangerous Colton Kroeker and Keenan Taphorn shorthanded 2-on-1, the Ice were trapped in their own zone to end the game and left the rink dejected.

After a season-high four-goal first period on Friday, the team has now failed to score in their last five periods, their longest goalless drought of the season.

The shutout also meant the end of a seven-game point streak for Colton Kroeker and once again dipped Kootenay’s record below .500.

While at 8-9-1-0, the Ice are below the 10-6-0-1 Wheat Kings in points, Kootenay remains tentatively tied for second place in the Central Division with the Red Deer Rebels.

Having now concluded their three-game road trip through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Ice will have a week of practice at home before facing the Prince Albert Raiders in Cranbrook on Friday night.

ICE CHIPS: Rookie forward Peyton Krebs was named the captain of Team Canada Red at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, B.C. Canada Red kick off their tournament on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. MST against Finland. In their only pre-tournament game, Krebs scored the lone goal in a 9-1 loss to the United States.

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