In two wildly different playoff games, the series between the Kootenay Ice and the Edmonton Oil Kings remains even as the two teams entered the WHL post-season this past weekend.
The Ice suffered their worst playoff loss in franchise history in a 9-0 blowout on Friday night at Rexall Place, but responded with a gritty 2-1 overtime win on Sunday to draw the series to a tie.
Luke Philp was the overtime hero, as his sharp-angle shot while on the forecheck somehow slipped through Oil Kings netminder Laurent Brossoit to give Kootenay the win.
“After Friday night’s game, I thought we responded very well and played more like our identity in the game here this afternoon,” said Ice assistant coach Chad Kletzel on Sunday.
“…During the year we showed that, after losses we didn’t play our best, but the guys did a good job of getting focused and understanding how we needed to play.”
The two teams were locked in a scoreless battle throughout the first two periods, and both sides dominated the play at different times in those two frames.
Brock Montgomery finally broke the deadlock halfway through the third period when he got a stick on an errant shot from Jordyn Boyd that went by Brossoit.
The Ice lead didn’t last for long, as Michael St. Croix soon answered back for the Oil Kings a few minutes later, poking in the puck when Stephane Legault threw it into the crease.
It remained tied after the final buzzer went, which sent the contest into overtime.
Despite some heavy pressure from the Edmonton squad, Kootenay held firm, with goaltender Mackenzie Skapski making a huge glove save on Henrik Samuelsson to keep the game alive.
Philp went in on the forecheck six minutes into the extra period and managed to collect the puck. He put a sharp angle shot on net that got by Brossoit for the win that drew the series back to a 1-1 tie heading back into Cranbrook.
Skapski and Brossoit spent the game in a goaltending duel; the Ice netminder stopped 47 shots, while Edmonton’s goaltender made 24 saves.
It was the first time the Ice have won in Rexall Place all year. In six regular-season meetings, the home team skated away with the victory.
It was a much tighter game than Friday’s playoff opener, which saw the Oil Kings with a 5-0 lead after the first period, and a 9-0 final score.
Legault had a monster night with a hat trick and four assists for seven points, while Trevor Cheek, Martin Gernat and St. Croix each had three-point affairs.
It was an ugly way to open the playoffs for the Ice, but despite the rout, everyone needed to shrug it off and look ahead, said Kletzel.
“You got to have a short memory,” Kletzel said, regarding the lopsided loss. “The game’s over, you address the different areas where you felt you weren’t your best, and you move on.”
The carnage started eight minutes into the first period, when Legault drew first blood and notched the first marker of his soon-to-be hat trick. Legault followed up with his second a few minutes later, while Travis Ewanyk made it a 3-0 lead soon after.
Legault got his third goal on the power play late in the period, and Trevor Cheek got a goal with just over a dozen seconds left on the clock for a 5-0 lead after 20 minutes.
The Ice switched out Skapski for Wyatt Hoflin in the second, but the high-octane Oil Kings offence kept up the pressure, scoring thrice more.
St. Croix lit the goal lamp three minutes into the frame, while Cody Corbett and Keegan Lowe both notched power play markers.
Cheek scored the only goal of the third period to cap off a demoralizing 9-0 loss for the Ice.
ICE NOTES: Ice defenceman Tanner Muth was scratched in both games, and has missed the last four contests. Levi Cable, who is recovering from a broken foot, missed his eighth consecutive game.