Number 21 and 22 were back on the ice for Kootenay on Wednesday night in Swift Current, but the jerseys were being worn by a pair of new players.
With former leading scorers Matt Alfaro and Zak Zborosky now members of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, newcomers Colton Kroeker (wearing #21) and Brett Davis (#22) did their best to make an impact in their first game with the Ice.
While both exited with their first point in their new colours — an assist each — the Ice felt the familiar sting of defeat as a supercharged second period from the Broncos sunk the Ice 8-3.
Despite the unfavourable scoreline, the Ice had a solid special teams performance as they went two for three on the power play and stopped all three of the Broncos man-advantage chances.
The Ice’s power play was electric right away and Jake Elmer kicked off the game’s scoring on their first opportunity with a fantastic top-shelf wrist shot assisted by Noah Philp and Troy Murray at the midway point of the first period.
The early Ice lead was short-lived, however, as Tyler Steenbergen found Aleksi Heponiemi in front of the net just seconds later to tie the game.
The new guys then came in flying for the Ice, as minutes later, a deflected rebound off of Davis’ shot found Kroeker who dished to Loschiavo for a tap-in at the side of the net.
While Kootenay almost made it to the first intermission with a lead, Broncos forward Ryan Graham was gifted with a perfect saucer pass from Lane Pederson on a rush to tie the game late in the frame.
Late in the second period, the game rapidly got away from the Ice as a quick pair of goals from Steenbergen opened the floodgates for a succession of four goals in less than three minutes.
On another power play to start the third period, Davis earned his first point passing to Loschiavo who found Cale Fleury at the point who blasted home his eighth goal of the season to make it only 6-3 for Swift Current.
The Broncos would beat Jakob Walter two more times before the night was up. Despite the ugly goals against number, Walter made 35 saves in the loss.
Steenbergen ended the game with two goals and four assists, a career-high for the sophomore centreman. Loschiavo meanwhile led the Ice with a goal and an assist, in just his second game without his former linemates Alfaro and Zborosky.
In Edmonton, Zborosky made his debut with the Hurricanes and scored on a partial breakaway on his first shift. While Alfaro did not play due to injury, Zborosky fit in right away with his new team and finished the game with a goal, an assist, and as a plus-3.
The Ice will now travel to Brandon, Manitoba to conclude their season series with the Wheat Kings in back-to-back matches on Friday and Saturday. In their previous two contests at Western Financial Place in late October, Kootenay beat Brandon both times.
The Wheat Kings, however, could finally have their top player and projected first overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft back in the lineup. Nolan Patrick has been out of commission since October 11 and has targeted Friday against the Ice as a possible return date.
The Ice remain in second last place in the WHL with 28 points through 43 games. They are eight points ahead of the 22nd place Prince Albert Raiders and seven points behind the 20th place Vancouver Giants.