Ice give unfriendly welcome to Royals

Kootenay extends home ice win streak to 11 games with 5-1 victory over Victoria.

A Kootenay Ice line celebrates a goal scored by Sam Reinhart against the Victoria Royals during WHL action on Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.

A Kootenay Ice line celebrates a goal scored by Sam Reinhart against the Victoria Royals during WHL action on Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.

It was friends off for 60 minutes between Kootenay Ice’s Jaedon Descheneau and the Victoria Royals’ Brandon Magee, as the two buddies clashed against each other on Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.

After a strong start, Kootenay built up some momentum and steamrolled to a 5-1 win, running their home ice win streak to 11 games.

Descheneau and Magee both grew up in Edmonton and met each other while going to school at Vimy Ridge Academy, which places a heavy emphasis on sport development.

The two are used to seeing each other on opposite ends of the ice as well, starting in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League, as Descheneau played for the Leduc Allen’s Transport Oil Kings, while Magee played for the SSAC Southgate Lions.

“We’ve definitely had some fun going up to the rinks and having some battles against each other,” said Magee. “Playing against each other tonight was nice, we play each other once a year or so. It’s always good to see one of your buddies in the season.”

“He’s one of my better buddies back home,” said Descheneau. “We spend a lot of time together in the summers, but when it comes to playing hockey against each other, there’s no friendship till after.”

The Royals, which are three games into a six-game road trip, also signed Isaac Schacher, a local product who patrols the blue line for the Kimberley Dynamiters (see adjacent story).

Schacher made his WHL debut against the Ice for his only game of the season, as he will rejoin the Nitros for the KIJHL playoffs.

Kootenay has been on fire on home ice, and Wednesday night was no different against the Royals.

Tanner Muth gave the Ice a lead late in the first period, when he flicked a shot on net that beat Royals’ netminder Patrik Polivka, who had a screen in front of him.

Sam Reinhart doubled the lead in the middle period, banging in a fat rebound at the side of the net off a shot from Jagger Dirk.

The Ice kept up the pressure in the third period, as Brock Montgomery gained the zone and crossed into the centre from the left wing, sniping a shot top shelf over Polivka’s glove.

Victoria’s troubles kept getting worse in the final frame, with Kootenay’s fourth goal scored 35 seconds afterwards on an effort from Descheneau.

That ended Polivka’s reign in net, and backup Coleman Vollrath came in for relief for the final 15 minutes of the game.

Soon after his initial goal, Descheneau, who also drew an assist on Muth’s goal, picked apart the Royals in the neutral and defensive zones, danced around a few blue jerseys, and tried to stuff the puck in from behind the net.

However, it was Luke Philp who got his blade on the loose puck in the crease for Kootenay’s fifth goal with 4:24 remaining in the contest.

“Still don’t really know, but I think it was Philper who put it in,” laughed Descheneau. “It doesn’t really matter as long as we get the two points.”

In between all of Kootenay’s scoring, Steven Hodges managed to steal the shutout for Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski with a high wrist shot that went top corner over the glove.

Skapski ended the game with 31 saves, while Polivka and Vollrath shared the load of making 24 saves in 29 shots.

“We knew Kootenay was 10-0 at home in the past couple games here so we knew they were going to be good in their building,” said Magee. “Just because of the lack of us seeing each other, I think a little bit of our emotion wasn’t there tonight and we’ve got to bring that every night to win hockey games.”

The Ice immediately packed up after the game to hit the road for a marathon drive to Brandon, MB, where they will play back-to-back games against the Wheat Kings on Friday and Saturday, before heading go Swift Current for a game on Monday afternoon.

“We need to try to bottle some of these things that we’ve done at home and take them on the road, because of how big this road trip is,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill.

Lethbridge has fallen down to eighth and the Broncos dropped down to seventh, as Medicine Hat leapfrogged to sixth place. Kootenay now sits three points behind the Hurricanes, with two games in hand.