Throwing pucks on net is a coach’s mantra it seems, from minor hockey right up into the pros.
On Sunday night in Edmonton, that age-old tip cashed in for the Kootenay Ice, as Luke Philp picked up his own rebound on the forecheck and put a sharp-angle shot on net that ended the game in overtime.
“It was awesome,” Philp said. “It wasn’t a very pretty play, I guess you could say, but it was nice to win and we were pretty happy.”
Philp’s goal happened in the same spirit as the Ice’s opening marker from Brock Montgomery, as the Kootenay forward got a deflection off an errant shot from Jordyn Boyd.
That overtime win evened things up at one win each for the Ice and the Oil Kings, as the series shifts into Western Financial Place on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
It was a much needed bounce back following a 9-0 drubbing on Friday night that opened the playoffs between the two squads. Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski had a rough night, with five goals in 15 shots, but his performance in the next game was one of the reasons for the win.
“A good response from our goaltender for sure,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill, as Skapski made 47 saves throughout the game. “We had some chances that we probably needed to bury in the first period, but at the same time, we have to be better in the last two periods, for sure.”
The results from both games appear wildly different, but even Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart admits the 9-0 win for Edmonton wasn’t what the squad was expecting.
“The first game was a little bit flukey for us,” said Reinhart, “we got that many goals, but the second game was a little more of what we expected, and they did a good job of keeping us off the scoreboard and got one when it counted.”
Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal said Kootenay gave his team a tough game.
“I thought Skapski was outstanding and I thought the team did a good job of collapsing to the net,” Laxdal said. “We hit four posts in the contest, had some great chances to win it in overtime, but they played that typical Kootenay game—just really solid, disciplined, detailed, didn’t take a lot of penalties and played right to their systems.”
Both teams are working on winning the special teams battle. The Ice had four chances on Sunday afternoon, while limiting the Oil Kings to only one opportunity with the man-advantage.
“Powerplays are a premium at this time of year and when you get one, you got to make sure you bury your chances, and obviously, we want to be better on that,” said McGill.
Laxdal noted that his team seemed to do well at even strength, but allowed the momentum to shift when a few of his players got sent to the box.
“In the second period, I thought we had some really good five-on-five pressure, and then we took a four-minute minor, and gave them a little bit of momentum,” Laxdal said. “You look at the 25 shots they had last night [Sunday], probably three-quarters were generated on the powerplay, so we know we’re in tough here, coming into their building and we got to make sure we play a solid road game.”