Ice face Blades and Oil Kings in triple header

Kootenay hosts Saskatoon, then heads to Edmonton for a pair of games at Rexall Place.

Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill leads his team through a drill during practice at Western Financial Place on Thursday afternoon.

Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill leads his team through a drill during practice at Western Financial Place on Thursday afternoon.

It’s been a stretch of peaks and valleys for the Kootenay ice over the last seven games.

The team has made a pattern of earning a win, then losing the next game, then winning the following contest, and so on.

Though the team pulled out a 2-0 shutout against the Raiders last Sunday, as

Jaedon Descheneau broke the deadlock early in the third period, while Luke Philp added the empty net goal in the final minute.

Despite the win, Ice head coach Ryan McGill wasn’t all that impressed with the effort he saw from his team, noting that he needs more players to step up.

“Obviously, we were happy that we won, but we can’t continually rely on Reinhart and Descheneau to score goals,” McGill said in a post-game interview on Sunday. “We need some secondary scoring from guys who are getting plenty of ice time and ample opportunity, so sooner or later, it’s going to bite us in the you-know-what.

“We need to get guys that can drive to the net, get second and third chances to the net and lessen our turnovers in the neutral zone.”

Forward Luke Philp agrees there has been inconsistent play, adding that the team is trying to identify and improve problem areas.

“Win one, lose one—we kind of want to get out of that track and competing and bringing the effort shouldn’t be a question every game. We shouldn’t be losing games based on that,” Philp said.

“We got to be working hard every game.”

The Ice are heading into a weekend triple-header, beginning with a home contest with the Saskatoon Blades on Friday, before hitting the road for a pair of games against the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Saturday and Sunday.

The last time the Ice had a triple header was earlier in the month, where they earned three out of a possible six points against the Hitmen and the Thunderbirds.

“It’s a lot mentally, but it’s more in your head,” said Philp, on what the team learned the last time they played three games in three nights.

“Anyone can do it, we’re in good enough shape to do it, but the schedule sometimes happens, so you got to get lots of sleep, drink lots of water, eat right, and that helps along the way.”

The Blades that are heading to Cranbrook are a dramatically different looking team from last season.

Head coach Lorne Molleken has stepped off the bench and is focusing solely on his general managing duties. Molleken’s assistant, Dave Struch, stepped up to take the top job.

After losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Medicine Hat Tigers, the Blades, hosts of the Memorial Cup, were subsequently ousted by the OHL’s London Knights in the playoff round with a 6-1 thrashing.

In the offseason, the Blades had to offload a number of players, as 14 of them qualified for overage status for the 2013-14 campaign.

With a roster infused with new blood, the team struggled early with a five-game losing streak, however, they’ve turned the ship around by winning their last four contests.

Immediately following Friday’s game, the Ice will pile into the bus and head up to Edmonton for a pair of back-to-back games at the Rexall Centre against the Oil Kings.

Edmonton is in the unusual position of being near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, however, it’s still too early in the season to pass judgement.

The team, which has won two of their last seven games, has been bolstered with the return of captain Griffin Reinhart, who had an extended stay with the New York Islanders up in the NHL.

Like the Blades, the Oil Kings lost a few overagers who turned pro, and have had some new blood infused in their roster.

Despite youth, it looks like there will still be a tough netminder in the crease as Tristan Jarry has taken over goaltending duties from Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit. Jarry himself was picked up in the second round of the NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins last June.

NOTES: A Skapski in the WHL was traded on Thursday but it wasn’t the Kootenay Ice goaltender. Mackezie Skapski’s younger brother, Mitch, was traded from the Everett Silvertips to the Victoria Royals. Mitch, who was a part of a trade package from the Portland Winterhawks for Nashville Predators D Seth Jones last year, suited up for 34 games with the Silvertips, scoring two goals and notching 10 penalty minutes.

 

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