The Kootenay ICE and the Kamloops Blazers got off to a hot start on Friday night at Western Financial Place.
After a 12 game losing skid, the ICE took a 5-3 win over the Blazers.
“It’s a big relief for sure. Anytime you can get a win after that losing streak it feels good. It was a good team effort tonight, and a good win to get into the next game and the break,” said forward Peyton Krebs, who finished the night with a goal and an assist.
It only took 43 seconds for Connor Zary to get the Blazers on the scoreboard. But just over a minute later the teddy bears, mittens and toques rained down on the ice when Davis Murray scored his fifth goal of the season.
“To get [the goal] early and get us back in the game was good, but it was a really cool experience. The fans were awesome. They put a lot of bears on the ice, which is good. So, props to them for coming out tonight and doing a good thing,” said Murray.
The ICE got goals from Krebs, Jakin Smallwood and Jaeger White to take a commanding 4-1 lead in the second period.
Blazers defenceman Quinn Schmiemann finished the night with two goals to make it 4-3, but River Fahey got his first goal with the ICE for the insurance goal.
“River with that goal there really helped us. It gave us a little more confidence going into the last couple minutes,” said Krebs.
The game was the annual Teddy Bear Toss where lots of fans were prepared with their fuzzy friends to throw on the ice.
“It was awesome, anytime you can get people out and have an event like that, get the fans involved I think that’s the best. I remember going to games when I was a younger kid, I think that was the best part when you were involved in the game,” said Krebs.
The Blazers ended the night being one for five on the power play and the ICE were two for four.
Goaltender Jesse Makaj faced 40 shots during the night, while Blazers goaltender Dylan Ferguson saw 30 shots.
“He has really good skill, he’s got a great size for a goalie, he has good skill as far as feet, flexibility and his compete – he has no fear in the net,” said head coach James Patrick about Makaj and the development of his play.
“He’s just gotten better and better. He works really hard. He’s really trying to improve any weakness he has. He needs to get better handling the puck, he works on it every day. It’s still an issue, but I think over time he’s going to tackle that.”
The ICE will head to Edmonton to take on the Oil Kings on Sunday for their final game before the holidays.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge for us, but hopefully we are better suited than we were a month ago,” said Patrick.
The ICE won’t be back to Western Financial Place until Dec. 29 when they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes.