The Kootenay Ice saved the best for last as they overcame a 3-1 deficit in the third period to defeat the Edmonton Oil Kings 5-4 in a shootout on Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.
Mackenzie Skapski stood tall during the shootout round, stopping Edmonton’s Henrik Samuelsson and Curtis Lazar, while Sam Reinhart and Luke Philp scored for the Ice.
Despite almost being doubled on the shot clock, the Ice had a number of key performers stand out in the final frame to lift the team to a small lead before settling for overtime.
Philp had a huge night outside of the shootout round, with two third period goals, with Reinhart drawing assists on both and scoring one of his own in the same frame.
Kootenay head coach Ryan McGill switched out starter Wyatt Hoflin, who’d played the first two periods, for Skapski, who finished the rest of the game into overtime and the shootout.
“The message in the third [period] was we knew we could give more, and we just needed to play with a little more desperation,” said McGill. “It just seemed like we weren’t playing with any desperation and I thought the best thing to do was to change the goalie to do that.”
Laurent Brossoit manned the crease for Edmonton, stopping 17 shots, while Hoflin allowed three goals in 17 shots before being replaced by Skapski, who turned away 20 pucks.
Edmonton rolled into Cranbrook with a three-game winning streak, while the Ice were looking to halt a three-game losing slide from their trip through the U.S. division last week.
Kootenay had a slower start despite the outcome, as Edmonton’s explosive offence went to work right away, as Brett Pullock trailed into the high slot and took a feed from a teammate, with the resulting shot ringing off the crossbar.
However, Dylan Wruck lit the lamp for the Oil Kings on the power play four minutes into the game, when he slapped a shot from the top of the face-off circle that hit something on it’s way into the net.
The Ice had a chance to get even on a power play of their own, but gave up a shorthanded breakaway to T.J. Foster, who fanned on his shot, which was turned away by Hoflin.
Jon Martin evened it up for the Ice early in the second period when he collected a loose puck near the centre hash marks and put it top cheddar over Brossoit’s shoulder.
However, 35 seconds later, Keegan Lowe answered for Edmonton to regain the lead.
Wruck scored his second goal of the game after the halfway mark of the frame when he took a pass from Ashton Sautner and put a backhand just outside the crease past Hoflin.
Edmonton’s powerhouse offence kept up the pressure, and Foster got another breakaway, but Hoflin sprawled along the crease to make the save while the Oil Kings’ forward careened into the net.
The game opened up in a wild third period, as Kootenay switched goaltenders and scored three unanswered goals to take a brief lead before Edmonton forced overtime with a late goal.
There was also some controversy on a disallowed goal off a high stick from Mitch Moroz, who tipped in the puck on a cross-ice saucer pass that went above the cross bar.
Reinhart got the ball rolling for the Ice, carrying the puck into the zone and firing it off the bar and into the net.
It looked like Moroz responded soon after, when he got a stick on a puck that a teammate flipped to the net, which trickled past Skapski skate and across the goal line, however, officials waved it off after video review, based on a high stick call.
With eight minutes remaining, Philp tied up the game with a low shot that beat Brossoit through the five hole from the high slot. He put the Ice in the lead two minutes later, snapping the puck top corner after Reinhart dished up a no-look backhand pass from behind the net.
Stunned by the reversal of fortunes, the Oil Kings poured on the pressure for the rest of the game, and with five minutes to go, Cole Benson was rewarded when he scored after a teammate took advantage of an Ice turnover.
The Oil Kings were in clear control during the overtime period, but some stellar work from Skapski and the rest of the Ice kept them at bay. Kootenay, on the other hand, managed to break the sustained cycle of pressure from Edmonton in the final two minutes and Reinhart had the best chance to end it when he crossed the blue line and put a hard low shot on Brossoit, who kicked it to the corner.
McGill tapped Levi Cable, Reinhart and Philp for the shootout, while Edmonton only got two efforts from Samuelsson and Lazar. Reinhart beat Brossoit below the glove, while Philp hit the top corner above it.
McGill said he had the zamboni come out and clear a strip down the centre after practice a couple weeks ago to simulate a shootout, and chose Cable based on his performance then.
But based on their third period success, it seemed like Philp and Reinhart hat hot sticks in their hands.
“I saw Sam go glove side so that was my move I had in mind—backhand to forehand glove side—so I was happy he picked me, I wanted to go shoot, so I’m happy it all worked out,” said Philp, who’s goal sealed the Kootenay win.
Kootenay has had some success against Edmonton this year. The Ice shut out the Oil Kings 1-0 the last time they met in the middle of October.
“They have quite a bit of skill, so we have to counteract it with simple plays,” said Kootenay blueliner Joey Leach, who logged a lot of ice time to quarterback the defence. “Not try to do too much, but attack them, make them play defence. That’s the best way to eliminate their offence, is make them have to play in their zone so we got pucks behind them and got going.”
The two teams will clash again on Friday, this time in Edmonton as the Ice hit the road for a rematch at Rexall Place. Following Friday’s game, the Ice will head down to Calgary for a meeting with the Hitmen on Sunday.
ICE NOTES: Defenceman Spencer Wand, 17, has apparently retired from hockey and returned to his hometown of Saskatoon. Wand, who was in his second year in the WHL, was recently ranked the 24th overall skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting preliminary rankings that was released a week ago. In another roster blow, the Ice have indefinitely suspended forward Jaedon Descheneau for “detrimental conduct at Mount Baker Secondary School” according to general manager Jeff Chynoweth, who didn’t comment further on the disciplinary matter. Descheneau, a second-year Ice player, is in the middle of his final year of high school. He has four goals and 15 assists for a total of 19 points so far this season.