The Kootenay Ice fell to the Portland Winterhawks 5-3 in their second pre-season contest in Kennewick, Wa. Friday afternoon.
Keegan Iverson registered the game-winning goal 13:45 into the third period, giving the Winterhawks a 4-1 lead at the time.
“We were better than last night, for sure,” said Kootenay head coach Ryan McGill over the phone from Kennewick following the game. “It was a good, physical, fast-paced, good-passing hockey game the first two periods.
“We ran out of gas in the third, but that has nothing to do with our fitness levels. That has to do with playing two games of exhibition hockey, with intensity, after only having two practices after training camp.”
Luke Philp turned in another strong outing with two more goals, boosting his pre-season tally to four in two games. Philp also added one assist Friday afternoon.
The 18-year-old Philp opened the scoring in the first period, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes. But three consecutive goals by the Winterhawks in the middle frame put Kootenay in a 3-1 hole after 40 minutes.
Dominic Turgeon led the way with two markers before Paul Bittner concluded the Winterhawks second-period onslaught.
Philp and Jaedon Descheneau scored within 30 seconds of one another late in the third period to give the Ice a last gasp of life but Oliver Bjorkstrand put the comeback attempt to rest when he added an empty-net goal with eight seconds to play.
Descheneau also contributed two assists Friday afternoon.
Rookie Keelan Williams earned the start in net for the Ice, turning aside 27 of the 31 shots he faced. At the other end of the rink, Brendan Burke stopped 16 of 19 pucks for the Winterhawks.
“He was square to the puck, he made some solid saves,” McGill said of Williams. “He is a big guy in the net and looked comfortable.”
Williams wasn’t the only youngster who found himself in the lineup Friday afternoon. Rookies Bryan Allbee, Shane Allan, Jared Legien and River Beattie also dressed for the game against the Winterhawks. In the eyes of McGill, the biggest test for some of these players will come when they suit up tomorrow against the Everett Silvertips.
“We look for some mental toughness, because it’s three games in less than three days,” McGill said.
“Guys playing more to their identity will be very critical tomorrow. Hopefully we see that.”
The Ice get right back to it tomorrow afternoon when they face the Silvertips at 12 p.m in Kennewick.
Rookie puckstopper Jayden Sittler is expected to get the start between the pipes for the Ice.
The Silvertips were in action against the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kennewick prior to the Ice-Winterhawks contest, scraping out a 4-2 victory Friday afternoon. Forward Tyler Sandhu picked up the winning goal as the Silvertips improved to 2-2-0 in pre-season play.