The road was not kind to the Kootenay Ice last week as the team dropped three straight including a back-to-back in Brandon over the weekend.
The 8-5 and 4-0 losses at Westman Place on Friday and Saturday night came after an 8-3 Wednesday thrashing from the Swift Current Broncos.
On Friday, Wheat Kings star Nolan Patrick made his return to game action after having missed three months recovering from surgery for a sports hernia. Patrick immediately made an impact, contributing a two goals and two assists the win over Kootenay.
Veteran Tyler Coulter also had a career night with a monster three goal and three assist performance.
It was a wild night. The Ice competed valiantly in the opening period, going into the first intermission with a 3-3 tie off goals from newcomer Colton Kroeker, winger Vince Loschiavo, and defenceman Dallas Hines.
In the second period, Kootenay gave up three goals while being outshot 19-7. Although a pair of quick goals from Brett Davis and Sam Huston put the Ice back in striking distance early in the third frame, the Wheat Kings ended up sinking the Ice.
Huston’s goal, however, was a big moment as it was the 17-year-old’s first career WHL marker and was scored in his hometown.
On Saturday night, both teams tightened up defensively but it was once again Brandon who came out with a win.
The Ice escaped the first period only down a goal but failed to convert on three back-to-back power plays.
The second period was once again rough for Kootenay. The team gave up 22 shots and three goals, while only managing five of their own attempts on net and being foiled on all of them.
The Ice gave up 40 shots or more on both nights and Payton Lee gave the team a chance both nights making 71 saves on the 83 pucks that he faced. Kootenay leads the WHL in shots against, with their goalies facing an average of 40 a night.
Despite blowing a golden opportunity on Saturday, the Ice’s power play was above average over the three-game road trip, converting four times on 11 chances.
The Ice have a good chance to bounce back from their miserable road week on Wednesday night, as they face the Prince Albert Raiders at home.
The Raiders have a WHL-worst 8-33-3-2 record and are seven points back of the second-to-last place Ice. In their only meeting, however, in Prince Albert, the Ice were beaten 6-0.
The Raiders are also coming off an impressive showing against the Regina Pats, in which they took the number one team in the CHL to overtime while putting up 6 goals before losing 5-1 the next night.
The Wednesday night showdown at Western Financial Place goes at 7 p.m., and will be another important test for the struggling new look Ice.