Ice bring split with Tigers back home

Kootenay and Medicine Hat each earn a win to kick off the second round of the playoffs

Considering the Ice haven’t won in Medicine Hat all year, coming out with a split after two games isn’t all that bad.

Kootenay stole a 4-2 win on Saturday night to open the second round against the Tigers, but the Tabbies got their revenge on Sunday with a 5-2 victory to even it up.

The series now shifts to Cranbrook for Game Three and Game Four on Wednesday and Thursday.

While the Ice big guns have yet to hit the scoresheet, Kootenay has been getting scoring from other areas of the lineup.

“It’s huge, because Descheneau and Reinhart didn’t get any points tonight,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill. “It’s huge for our guys to score because of that, and that’s what you need to win in the playoffs.”

On Saturday, Rinat Valiev scored the game-winning goal and Mackenzie Skapski made 28 saves to lift the Ice to a 4-2 win to open the series.

Austin Vetterl, Jon Martin and Jagger Dirk added further offence for Kootenay, while Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford replied for Medicine Hat.

Tabbies goaltender Marek Langhamer was busy in goal, and only allowed three goals in 42 shots.

Vetterl scored a quick goal, poking the puck into the net less than two minutes into the game. Trevor Cox answered back six minutes later to knot up the affair.

Sanford gave the Tigers a 2-1 edge in the second period, but Martin got it back to a tie, banging in a pass from Levi Cable, who broke in on a partial breakaway.

“I thought we were good in the first 10 minutes,” said McGill. “We won face-offs, were good on the forecheck.

“When you score the first goal on the road, that helps, but when they made it 2-1, I thought we did a good job of bouncing back to score and tie it up right away, so that was huge for us.”

The game remained tied up until 13:08 of the third period, when Valiev put in a blistering slapshot just after an Ice power play ended to make it 3-2.

Dirk added an empty netter in the final minute to seal it up for Kootenay.

It was an eventful finish as over 70 minutes in penalties were handed out in the final 16 seconds of the game. Jacob Doty sat out in Game Two after getting hit with a one-game suspension from the league for his actions.

Kootenay’s hot power play cooled off, going scoreless in seven opportunities with the man-advantage.

“We got to get our power play going, when we go 0-7…it’s got to be better tomorrow.” McGill added.

On Sunday, Tigers captain Curtis Valk and Steve Owre both tallied a pair of goals on the way to a 5-2 win against the Ice to even up the series.

Kootenay got goals from Cable and Dirk, while Cox added an empty net marker for Medicine Hat.

Langhamer picked up the win with 22 saves, while Skapski turned away 32 shots in defeat.

Owre got up on the board first, redirecting a shot from Ty Stanton to make it 1-0 for an early lead.

A couple minutes later, Cable took the puck off the sideboards, walked through a few players and buried his third goal of the post-season to even it up.

Dirk added his second goal in as many games, joining the rush and finishing off a pass from Austin Vetterl in Tabbies territory.

Kootenay took a 2-1 lead into the second period, but Valk scooped up a turnover in the neutral zone and beat Skapski after advancing into the offensive zone.

Knotted after 40 minutes, Valk scored again—the eventual game-winner—in the third period off a three-on-two rush into the Kootenay zone.

Owre added some insurance with a goal off another redirection, and Cox found the back of an empty net within the final two minutes to put the game out of reach.