Making his WHL debut, Ice prospect Jayden Sittler picked up his first career win with the Kootenay Ice, making 17 saves in a 4-3 win over the Rebels in Red Deer.
Sittler came into the game just before the halfway mark of the contest in relief of Wyatt Hoflin, who surrendered three goals in 12 shots.
“He [Sittler] had to make a couple saves when he went into the game, but for the most part, we kind of kept everything to the outside,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill.
The Ice bench boss replaced Hoflin more so to inject some life into his bench rather than as punishment, which seemed to do the trick.
“I just thought that the way the guys were playing, we needed a bit of a momentum-changer,” McGill added.
Kootenay trailed 2-0 early in the game, but managed to claw their way back into it, and eventually took a lead in the final frame on a game-winning goal from Tim Bozon.
There was no huge game-changing reason for the comeback, according to McGill.
“Nothing, other than we stuck with the program,” he said. “We just stuck with the plan. That’s all we did.”
Jagger Dirk, Luke Philp and Zak Zborosky also supplied offence for the Ice, while Dominik Volek notched a pair and Evan Polei responded for Red Deer.
Kootenay drew blood twice on five powerplays, while the Rebels capitalized once on a single chance with the man-advantage.
Kootenay peppered 43 shots on Patrik Bartosak, who stood in goal for the Rebels.
Though Kootenay eventually ended up with the win, it was Red Deer that led early in the game.
Haydn Fleury went deep into Ice territory and fed a cross-ice pass to Volek, who opened the scoring just before the halfway mark of the first period. Three minutes later, Polei doubled up the lead, after the puck took a bizarre bounce by the Kootenay net, which gave him an easy goal.
However, the Ice got their powerplay rolling, and Dirk cut into Red Deer’s lead on a shot from the face-off circle with the man-advantage that beat Bartosak.
Philp knotted the game back up in the second period on a give-and-go with Bozon, beating Bartosak with a hard shot from the point on another Kootenay powerplay.
The game remained tied for just over two minutes, but Red Deer pulled ahead on their first and only powerplay of the game, when Volek potted his second after receiving a drop pass from Rhyse Dieno.
It appeared as if Kootenay scored to bring it back to a tie, but the officials waved it off on goaltender interference from Jon Martin. Eventually, the Ice would even it back up on a good goal from Zborosky, who was fed a behind-the-net pass from Matt Alfaro.
Bozon scored the lone goal from the slot in the third period, taking a feed from Sam Reinhart at the sideboards.
Kootenay sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Calgary Hitmen at 28 points, which have four games in hand.
The Ice will return home for a pair of games against the Brandon Wheat Kings this weekend on Friday and Saturday night.