The Kootenay Ice managed to cheat defeat once this weekend, but after clawing a 4-3 overtime victory from the Medicine Hat Tigers Friday night at Western Financial Place, it was the Lethbridge Hurricanes scoring with 34 seconds remaining in regulation to steal a 3-2 triumph Saturday.
While Saturday’s collapse came too late in the equation for the Ice to rebound, Friday night at home proved a different story.
Carrying a 2-0 lead into the final period of play, the Ice were outshot 21-7 in the final 20 minutes of regulation, eventually falling behind the Tigers 3-2 before birthday and captain Luke Philp came to the rescue.
With 55 seconds remaining on the clock, Philp found winger River Beattie who managed to sneak the puck past Tigers goaltender Austin Lotz to tie the game and force overtime.
From there, the 20-year-old Ice captain took control. It was his party and he was going to do what he wanted.
As time whittled away in overtime, the native of Canmore, Alta., made a power move towards the net, beating one Tigers defender before jamming the puck home past Lotz, blowing out the candles on a successful birthday outing.
“We played really well the first two periods and to come out and have a third [period] like that, we have to work on that for sure,” Philp said Friday. “Our goaltender, again, he’s huge for us every night. He stands on his head and he’s one of the best goalies in the league. We owe that game to him.”
Wyatt Hoflin certainly was deserving of plenty of credit Friday night. Not only did he face 21 shots in the third period, but by the time Philp’s overtime winner crossed the line, the 20-year-old Hoflin had turned aside 40 pucks, earning his 50th career WHL victory.
Hoflin withstood a strong Tigers push, that featured a mind-spinning number of chances courtesy the visitors’ top line of left wing Mark Rassell, centre Steven Owre and right wing Alex Mowbray.
Ultimately, it was the veteran trio doing all the damage as Mowbray, Owre and Rassell all scored in unanswered sequence over a span of less than 10 minutes.
“It was disappointing the way we played int he third period,” said Luke Pierce head coach of the Kootenay Ice, Friday night. “Got to give them credit at the end, — a resilient effort by those guys to tie it up. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised, actually.
“We found a way to win it.
“But I thought our third period was unacceptable.”
The opening 40 minutes seemingly saw a different Kootenay Ice squad take to the ice.
The hosts opened the scoring 11:52 into the first period after right wing Austin Wellsby took advantage of a broken play inside the Tigers blueline before hitting a streaking Tanner Lishchynsky with a pass.
The 20-year-old defenceman drove the net hard before feeding Matt Alfaro at the back door. The Calgary native had nothing left to do but deposit the net past a helpless Lotz and the Ice led 1-0 after 20 minutes.
A highlight of the weekend came in the second period Friday as rookie defenceman Dallas Hines put his team ahead 2-0 by hammering home is first-career WHL goal.
Hines, a native of Marwayne, Alta., took a pass from fellow rookie Noah Philp and buried his head, unleashing a heavy slap shot from the point that found a hole in Lotz.
“It was an awesome feeling to get the monkey off my back and get my first one in the WHL,” Hines said Friday.
In his rookie season, the 17-year-old defenceman has been in and out of the lineup, playing 13 of his team’s 19 games to date. But that hasn’t kept him from making positive strides.
“He doesn’t get down on himself, even being out of the lineup, he keeps a positive attitude and that’s really important,” Pierce said of Hines. “We’ve got eight defencemen right now and a couple of guys are going to have to sit. They have to take the right approach and stay positive. Dallas understood that and I thought he was good [Friday].”
Hines not only finished Friday night with his first goal, he also added an assist on Beattie’s game-tying effort to round out the first multi-point game of his young WHL career.
While there was reason to celebrate Friday, the following night in Lethbridge provided much less glee for the Ice.
After a scoreless first period, Ryan Vandervlis opened the scoring for the host Hurricanes before import Roman Dymacek replied with a laser beam to tie the game 1-1 in the second period.
Wellsby continued his prowess, drawing a penalty shot that he cashed in on to give his team a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Then the cursed third period.
With 6:06 to go in regulation, Hurricanes defenceman Andrew Nielsen knotted the game 2-2 before veteran pest Ryley Lindgren put the dagger in the heart, scoring with 34 seconds left in regulation to boost Lethbridge to a 3-2 victory.
Former Ice goaltender Jayden Sittler was once again a thorn, turning aside 27 of 29 shots for the win. At the other end, rookie Declan Hobbs earned the start and was sharp, earning second-star honours as he made 29 saves.
Next up, the Ice visit the Calgary Hitmen Friday, Nov. 13, at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Daily Townsman Three Stars (Nov. 6):
1) RW Alex Mowbray, Medicine Hat Tigers (1G, 1A)2) C Steven Owre, Medicine Hat Tigers (1G, 1A)3) D Dallas Hines, Kootenay Ice (1G, 1A)
Notes: Ice D Cale Fleury (upper body) made his return to the lineup Friday night against the Tigers. It was Fleury’s first appearance since Oct. 7 at Saskatoon where he sustained the injury, subsequently missing 11 games… While Hines registered the first points of his career, LW Jared Legien tallied his first point of the season — an assist on Hines’ goal Friday night. The 17-year-old native of Pilot Butte, Sask., is without a goal in 31 career WHL games… The penalty shot goal from Wellsby was the first penalty shot goal from an Ice player since Richard Hamula scored back on Nov. 8, 2000…
Video highlights: Tigers 3 at Ice 4, OT (Nov. 6):
Video highlights: Ice 2 at Hurricanes 3 (Nov. 7):