It seemed like a game destined for overtime.
However, the Kootenay Ice survived a late scare to overcome the Medicine Hat Tigers at 5-2 to post an important divisional victory in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“It’s huge, obviously five points—now three—with not many games left, it’s huge,” said Reinhart. “It’s really a four-point game we won tonight, it was definitely by far the biggest game of the year.”
Despite the win, Kootenay was outgunned on the shot clock, as Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski turned away 40 shots, while his counterpart across the arena, Marek Langhamer, made 23 saves.
“Especially that team, they love to chuck everything at me,” said Skapski. “I felt like some of the guys kept the stuff to the outside and I saw most of it. They tried to throw traffic at me, but we did a good job of boxing things out and letting me see pucks.”
With Tigers sniper Curtis Valk going pointless, Reinhart took over the WHL’s longest active point streak at 18 games, scoring a goal and tallying three assists to reach the milestone. Valk had run his to the same number before missing the scoresheet on Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.
The two teams remained scoreless after the first period, with Skapski and Langhamer making key saves to keep it that way.
Zach Franko made it 1-0 with 10 seconds remaining in the second period on the powerplay, pouncing on a fat rebound with a wide-open net.
Early in the third period, Chad Labelle tied it up for Medicine Hat, slipping it through the five-hole after getting a short breakaway inside the Kootenay defensive zone.
Then, with five minutes left in the game, the Tigers drew more blood.
A turnover in Kootenay territory resulted in an odd-man rush for Medicine Hat, and Jacob Doty fired home a slick pass from Blake Penner.
But Kootenay had some late-game heroics of their own.
Not even a minute later, Luke Philp came in on a breakaway and ripped a shot over Langhamer’s glove to knot the affair up at 2-2.
Then Jaedon Descheneau received a ridiculous pass from Reinhart and beat Langhamer on another breakaway for a one-goal lead with 2:23 remaining in the game.
Medicine Hat then pulled Langhamer for the extra attacker, however, a turnover at the neutral zone allowed Reinhart to skate the puck in for an easy empty-net goal.
Bozon added another goal with a wide open cage in the final dozen seconds.
Needless to say, the late scoring made for a nail-biting finish.
“We stayed composed, stuck with it,” said Reinhart. “Good teams find a way to bounce back and with time running out, Luke [Philp] had a really big goal and we kept going from there.”