The ICE bench

The ICE bench

Hitmen double ICE on opening night

Special teams cost the Kootenay ICE as the Calgary Hitmen spoiled Friday's home-opener at Western Financial Place

Special teams was the name of the game Friday night in Cranbrook, as the Kootenay ICE opened the 2015-16 Western Hockey League campaign with a 4-2 loss at the hands of the Calgary Hitmen.

The visiting Hitmen (1-0-0-0), defending Central Division champions, went 3-for-7 on the man advantage, while the host ICE (0-1-0-0) put up a goose egg on six power-play opportunities on the second night of the WHL’s 50th anniversary season.

“We gave up three goals on the penalty kill, so we’ve got some work to do there, obviously,” said Luke Pierce, head coach of the Kootenay ICE, following Friday night’s loss. “Penalties are one thing and we probably took some we shouldn’t have in places we don’t like to. At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a way to be better.

“It takes time, it takes work and we haven’t had time to do that. That’s a pretty good team that’s got a pretty well-oiled power play running already. Guys are used to their structures and systems, so it’s to be expected. What I would have liked to see is just a little higher compete level and some sacrifice on our [penalty] kill to start until we get things ironed out.”

Guided by the veteran presence of defenceman Travis Sanheim, a 2014 first-round pick (17th overall) of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, the Hitmen proved too much for a young ICE squad on opening night.

“I thought we worked hard and we moved the puck pretty well,” said the 19-year-old Sanheim. “We were a little scrambly at times, but overall, I thought we played a pretty strong game and used our forecheck to our advantage, got behind their ‘D’ and just worked it in there.”

Pesky Hitmen forward Carsen Twarynski didn’t let the home team build any momentum in the first period.

After ICE defenceman-turned-forward Nathyn Mortlock opened the scoring 5:15 into the festivities, the 17-year-old Twarynski responded 17 seconds later, chipping a backhand effort past ICE goaltender Wyatt Hoflin, to draw things even.

Late in the first, with ICE defenceman Cale Fleury serving a two-minute holding penalty, Sanheim snuck into the slot before putting a wrist shot past the glove of Hoflin and the Hitmen took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.

The veteran defenceman’s power-play goal kickstarted three consecutive conversions on the man advantage for Calgary, as twin brother Taylor Sanheim and Radel Fazleev, another Flyers prospect (2014 sixth round, 168th), cashed in during the second period.

Taylor’s tally came on a doorstep play as a rebound eluded Hoflin. The 5-foot-10 Sanheim was left with a gift and he made no mistake.

On Fazleev’s marker, the 6-foot-3 Sanheim brother quarterbacked the man advantage and though he wasn’t rewarded with a helper, he set the stage, before Jordy Stallard fed the 19-year-old Russian who one-timed a hot shot into the top corner for a 4-1 Hitmen lead.

While the special teams may have struggled on opening night for the ICE, one particular bright spot came past the midway point of the third period as 20-year-old Jon Martin tallied a short-handed marker to get the home team back within two.

“It was a simple chip off the wall from [Luke] Philp there on the penalty kill,” Martin said, recalling his tally Friday night. “I skated down and got a shot off, a rebound that ended up coming right to my stick.

“I think our guys know what to expect now. We got the jitters out tonight. We’ve just got to focus on the positives and fix the negatives that went on in [Friday’s] game.”

Unfortunately for the home team, that was all the offense mustered on opening night as the defending Central Division champions showed why they will once again be tough to beat.

“We played a full 60-minutes — that was our goal last season whenever we played,”  said Travis Sanheim. “I thought we played the majority of that [Friday]. Obviously we want to keep cleaning that up as we get further along in the season — make sure that we’re playing that full 60.”

Despite being saddled with a loss in his WHL regular season coaching debut, Pierce saw positives to build upon.

“We had some great effort from our young guys,” Pierce said. “With Max Patterson, Noah Philp and Nathyn Mortlock anchoring what you’d call our fourth line — they gave us some great minutes today and got a goal for us, which was huge.

“We battled right to the end of the game. We didn’t quit. Down 4-1, it’s tough going into the third. But I thought we worked.”

Hoflin made 26 stops in a losing effort, while fellow overage goaltender Brendan Burke turned aside 22 pucks at the other end of the rink to collect the victory.

The two teams won’t take much time to breath as they hit the ice at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome for a rematch tomorrow night (7 p.m.)

“We’ll have some small adjustments to make, but now you’ve got a barometer for where the work needs to be,” Pierce said. “We’ll make some adjustments to our special teams stuff. I thought our power play had some real good looks and chances. We’ve just got to capitalize. There’s not a lot that we can do between [Friday and Saturday]. We’ll make fine tweaks but we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to compete again.”

While the ICE played in front of the home crowd Friday, it will be the Hitmen facing the pressure of performing for their fans Saturday as they strive to open the season with two consecutive victories.

“A lot of guys are probably going to have some nerves with it being our home-opener,” Travis Sanheim said. “I think we just want to keep it simple and remember what we did well [Friday] and the things we need to improve on. Just kind of keep working on our game and keep working hard. The wins will come if we put in the work.”

Cranbrook Daily Townsman Three Stars of the Game:

1) Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen2) Jon Martin, RW, Kootenay ICE3) Carsen Twarynski, LW, Calgary Hitmen

Notes: Stallard registered the only multi-point effort between the two clubs Friday night, collecting two assists for the Hitmen… Making their WHL debuts for the ICE were RW Max Patterson, C Noah Philp and D Dallas Hines… The ICE went without G Declan Hobbs, D Tanner Lishchynsky (lower body, week to week), D Tyler King (knee, indefinite), RW Jaedon Descheneau (St. Louis Blues) F Shane Allan, F Connor Barley and D Jason Wenzel… The Hitmen scratched G Lasse Petersen, D Jakob LaPointe, D Keegan Kanzig (Calgary Flames), D Matt Dorsey (lower body), F Dawson Martin, F Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks), D Aaron Hyman… A total of 2,137 fans took in Friday’s home-opening game for the Kootenay ICE, not a promising start for a troubled club that averaged 2,239 fans per night in 2014-15…

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Cranbrook Arts has opened the doors of their  new gallery space to the public with their inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best.
‘Kootenay’s Best’ opens Cranbrook Arts’ new gallery

This exhibit has been in the works for the past several months and features the work of more than 50 emerging and established artists from across the Kootenays

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read