It was a busy night for the Kootenay Ice as they faced the Calgary Hitmen.
After a pre-game ceremony honouring alumnus Jarret Stoll into the newly-created ICE Hall of Fame, the two WHL teams went to battle, with the Hitmen coming out on top of a 5-2 decision.
“I liked a lot of the game, but as the third period went on we started to lose a lot more battles and they were winning battles, that was the difference,” said head coach James Patrick.
Calgary started the scoring off with a goal by James Malm, but the Ice came right back with a goal from Marco Creta.
The Ice and the Hitmen traded chances with Malm getting his second of the night, and Brad Ginnell scoring after a great feed from Creta.
They went into the second period tied 2-2.
The Ice had a five on three power play, but couldn’t seem to get the puck off their sticks and take advantage.
“I didn’t like our power play,” said James. “I thought the five on three was maybe the difference in the game. Not getting a shot, not getting a scoring chance, no getting any energy. I thought it sagged some of the energy, and that was a big part of the game.”
Malm scored his third goal of the night early in the second on an early power play opportunity after Cole Muir went to the box for tripping.
After not much action throughout the rest of the third period and most of the third, until Josh Prokop netted one behind Curtis Meger for the insurance goal.
But the Hitmen weren’t done. Less than a minute left, Mark Kastelic added to the score to make it 5-2 Calgary.
“It comes back to playing 60 minutes,” said Kootenay Ice captain Peyton Krebs. “I thought we had a good 45-50 and then it came down to the wire and we needed to step up. We didn’t do that and I think we need to do that and capitalize on our power plays.”
Less than a 24-hour turnaround, the Ice will be in Calgary tomorrow for the second half of their home-and-home.
“We can’t focus too much on our downfalls,” said defenceman Zachary Patrick. “For most of the game, it was pretty back and forth. We had our chances, we were outshooting them for a majority of the game. We need to not focus on the downfalls, but learn from them and use that momentum that we had gained earlier in the game to be able to play them hard tomorrow.”
The Ice will be back at Western Financial Place on March 5 against the Brandon Wheat Kings.