It was a long happy bus ride back to Cranbrook on Saturday night, as the Kootenay Ice ended their road trip with a 6-1 win over the Blades in Saskatoon.
It was an offensive explosion compared to the night before in Prince Albert, as the Raiders edged out a 3-2 win over the Cranbrook-based WHL squad on Friday evening.
In their first major road trip of the season, Kootenay ended up splitting a four-game record at two wins and two losses against mostly East Division teams, save for the opener in Calgary last Monday.
The finale against the Blades was the highest scoring affair of the trip, as Jaedon Descheneau led the way with a pair of goals and two assists, while Jon Martin, Sam Reinhart and Ryan Chynoweth lit the goal lamp. Rookie Matt Alfaro also notched his first career WHL marker, while CHL import Nikita Scherbak responded with the only goal for Saskatoon.
Martin opened the scoring, after defencman Jagger Dirk head-manned the puck to Austin Vetterl, who rushed into the offensive zone. Vetterl slid the puck over to Martin, who snapped in his fifth goal of the year.
Six minutes later, from behind the net, Descheneau fed Alfaro out in front, who beat Blades goaltender Troy Trombley that stood for a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.
Descheneau picked up a backdoor pass from Reinhart early in the middle period before the Blades answered back, when Scherbak picked up a rebound in front of Hoflin, who had just stopped Nick Zajac on a breakaway.
Heading into the third period, Descheneau struck again, waiting out Trombley after being on the receiving end of a pretty passing play between Tim Bozon and Reinhart.
Descheneau caused more fits for Saskatoon’s defence, picking up the puck and connecting with Reinhart, who scored Kootenay’s lone powerplay goal of the game.
Chynoweth rounded out the scoring in the latter half of the period on an odd man rush with Martin, sniping a shot past Moodie.
Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin made 26 saves, while Trombley turned away 36 shots for Saskatoon.
Earlier, on Friday night in Prince Albert, the Raiders were bailed out by goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who weathered an early storm by Kootenay’s offence and backstopped his team to a 3-2 win.
Tim Bozon led the offensive output for the Ice with a pair of goals—his first multi-goal game since arriving in Cranbrook in a trade with the Kamloops Blazers.
Scoreless after the opening 20 minutes, Chance Braid beat Hoflin on a four-on-two rush into Ice territory in the second period to put the Raiders up on the board.
Bozon picked up his first goal on a rebound from Luke Philp on a Kootenay powerplay to even it up at 1-1.
However, the Raiders responded on a powerplay goal of their own, as Josh Morrissey fired the puck on net from the point that evaded traffic and hit the twine.
The Raiders added to their lead in the final frame, when Jayden Hart threw the puck in front of the crease that hit a Kootenay defender’s skate and went in.
With six attackers on the ice, Bozon shovelled away in front of Cheveldae and scored with 37 seconds left in the game, but the Raiders were able to hold on for a 3-2 final score.
Cheveldave made 28 stops for the win, while Hoflin turned away 23 shots in defeat.