A four-game eastern road trip didn’t go exactly to plan for the Kootenay Ice.
While there isn’t much to be pleased with after dropping all four games, including a 13-1 defeat at the hands of the Brandon Wheat Kings (Friday) and a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to the Moose Jaw Warriors (Saturday), head coach Luke Pierce is proud of his group for gutting it out.
“That’s a very good hockey team. I don’t think they could’ve played any better,” Pierce said Monday of Friday’s loss in Brandon. “But I thought our guys battled. I thought they stayed positive as much as they could.
“I was really proud of our group [Saturday]. We talked about it being a test of character going to Brandon and then to get whipped like that and embarrassed, guys could’ve really easily turned on each other. It could have been a big downhill spiral.
“But what it did is it really sunk the message in that if we’re not prepared and we’re not ready to do the things we’ve built, we’re going to be in trouble.
“Our emotions were really good Saturday.”
Building a 3-2 lead through 40 minutes Saturday in Moose Jaw, the Ice conceded a pair of third-period goals, including the game-winner to Nelson, B.C. product Dryden Hunt with only 1:07 to play.
Goaltender Wyatt Hoflin turned in a strong effort in Saturday’s loss, making 32 saves.
Offensively, centre Luke Philp registered a goal and an assist, while right wing Zak Zborosky chipped in with a goal.
Rookie defenceman Jason Wenzel registered his first-career WHL goal.
The Ice have now lost five consecutive games and life won’t be made any easier as the team finds itself battered by injuries.
Right wing Jaedon Descheneau (undisclosed) and defenceman Cale Fleury (upper body) were lost to injury Wednesday in Saskatoon. Defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky (knee, day to day) remains unavailable as does defenceman Tyler King (knee, indefinite). Making matters worse, rookie right wing Max Patterson (undisclosed) was lost to injury late in Saturday’s game against the Warriors.
“Every game we play it seems we lose somebody else,” Pierce said. “We’ll get some more info this week, but in all likelihood, we’re looking at Cale Fleury, Jaedon, Max Patterson, Lishchynsky, being out at least Wednesday and perhaps a little bit longer.
“You see Max Patterson having a real good week on the road [two goals, three points in four games] even though our team struggled. He was playing very well and contributing then gets hurt last shift of the last game [in Moose Jaw]. It’s tough to catch a break right now.”
The Ice (1-7-0-0) at least get a break in the schedule, returning home to play four of the next five contests at Western Financial Place, beginning Wednesday when the Warriors (4-0-1-1) visit Cranbrook.
Video highlights: Kootenay Ice 1 at Brandon Wheat Kings 13 (Friday, Oct. 9)
Video highlights: Kootenay Ice 3 at Moose Jaw Warriors 4 (Saturday, Oct. 10)