It may have taken until the third period, but for fans at Western Financial Place it was well worth the wait as the Kootenay Ice scored six goals in the final 20 minutes, en route to a 7-3 defeat of the Moose Jaw Warriors Sunday evening.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night comes in the identities of the culprits responsible for mounting Kootenay’s monumental third-period comeback.
Levi Cable, Matt Alfaro and Jon Martin, comprising Kootenay’s third line, combined for four goals and 10 assists in the third period, with Cable registering the game-winning marker.
“We had the same game plan the whole game,” Cable said after the win. “But in the third, the bounces just went our way. Pretty much every bounce for our line happened to work for us. We capitalized on those opportunities.
“This was the first time I [played] with those two guys [Alfaro and Martin]. It just seemed to click right off the bat.”
Cable finished the night with two goals and an assist, while Alfaro closed the night with one goal and two helpers.
Martin, playing the 200th game of his WHL career, registered a goal and three assists to lead the charge.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 210 pounds, the big-bodied winger missed significant time with an upper-body injury this season, having only skated in 10 of the team’s 25 contests thus far. He returned to the Kootenay Ice lineup Friday night against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“I was out for a month. It was definitely really good to get back,” Martin said. “I was a little bit nervous coming back in with my shoulder [injury] and everything, but things are going good.”
The Ice trailed the visiting Warriors 3-1 heading into the final period of play. After Luke Philp wired a power-play goal past 16-year-old Warriors goaltender Brody Willms, Cable knotted the game 23 seconds later.
“We got that goal and momentum just stayed with our side the whole period,” Martin added.
After Cable notched the eventual game-winner, the Ice poured it on with Martin adding an insurance goal before Jaedon Descheneau and Alfaro rounded out the third-period scoring.
Warriors captain Brayden Point registered two assists to lead the visitors, setting up goals by Jesse Shynkaruk and Dallas Valentine. Overage left-winger Jaimen Yakubowski tallied the other goal for Moose Jaw.
Starting his first WHL game, Willms was solid through 40 minutes of play, holding the Ice to one goal on 27 shots. The third-period push was too much for the Coquitlam native, as the Ice victimized him six times on 13 tries in the third period, executing the come-from-behind win.
At the other end of the rink, Wyatt Hoflin earned his third consecutive victory with a 31-save performance.
The triumph is the third in three nights for the Ice, who have won eight of their past nine games. A 7-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers Nov. 19 represents the team’s lone setback since Oct. 31.
“Chasing these guys in the standings, those two points are big,” Cable added. “They’re going to be big down the line. We really needed all six points this weekend.
“We’ve got to keep the things that we’re doing right. We’ve got to keep those going. Continuing to work hard and work together as a team. It’ll come just as it is now.”
Next up, the Ice (11-14-0-0) head out on a three-game American road trip, beginning Friday, Nov. 28 against the Portland Winterhawks (11-12-0-3).
Notes: D Tanner Faith (upper body) was once again unavailable for the Ice…D Dylan Overdyk and F River Beattie were healthy scratches…