With their sixth consecutive win in a row, the Ice have climbed out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with the Brandon Wheat Kings falling into the basement.
Kootenay defeated the reigning WHL champions in the Edmonton Oil Kings 2-1 on Tuesday night at Western Financial Place for the third time this season—all on home ice.
Jaedon Descheneau and Joey Leach provided the scoring for the Ice, while T.J. Foster notched the lone marker for Edmonton.
It was a battle of the goaltenders, as Ice stopper Mackenzie Skapski made 31 saves in net, while Laurent Brossoit made the same amount of stops for Edmonton on the other side of the rink.
It’s been a pretty impressive streak for Kootenay, which has been steadily adding up points in the standings as four of those wins came against divisional rivals.
Now that Kootenay has surpassed the Wheat Kings, they are now nine points shy of a playoff spot.
“Everyone wants into the playoffs, that’s our goal in here and we’re not stopping until we make it and until after the playoffs so that’s what we want,” said Descheneau.
Every time Kootenay has clashed with Edmonton this year, the home team has won. The Ice are up in the season series with three wins, while Edmonton has two, with the final meeting in Rexall Place at the end of January.
Despite a rough first period, the Ice recovered over the following 40 minutes to win the game.
Edmonton took the upper hand in the first frame, scoring the opening goal as T.J. Foster picked up a rebound from Ashton Sautner at the side of the net and went bar down despite a valiant cross-crease dive from Skapski.
Kootenay also had to hold off the WHL’s top-ranked power play after Joey Leach took a high-sticking penalty, but the Ice did well on the penalty kill.
The Ice continued their success on the penalty kill in the second period, even getting an odd man rush, but the shot went high and wide.
The Oil Kings had their own shorthanded chance, as Curtis Lazar nearly scored, but Skapski made a big stop.
Skapski again came up with a pair of big stops on Henrik Samuelsson, kicking out his leg to stop the Oil Kings forward who shovelled away along the ice inside the crease.
The Ice had chances their own, as Levi Cable was turned away on a backhand chance while going one-on-one into the zone, and Erik Benoit nearly made good on a breakaway opportunity.
Just after Benoit missed his chance, Descheneau collected the puck and sniped the top corner stick side of Brossoit to pull the Ice even.
A two-man advantage in the final period proved to be the game breaker, as Kootenay’s power play went to work and got rewarded when Leach blasted a slap shot past Brossoit just over a minute into the frame.
Though Leach patrols the blue line, he’s been on an offensive tear with points in each of Kootenay’s last six wins.
“It’s nice to be able to put up points and help the team win games,” said Leach, before adding, “I look at the six wins we got in the column more than the points I’ve got.”
But notching a goal like the one he put past Brossoit feels pretty good, he added.
“That’s always nice,” Leach said, with a smile.
It turned into end-to-end hockey after that, as both teams went to war; Edmonton looking for the equalizer while Kootenay searched for some insurance.
Goaltending shone for both teams as Skapski kept the Ice in the lead with some key saves, while Brossoit kept Edmonton in the game at the other end.
Kootenay has a couple of days off before hosting the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday at Western Financial Place.
Following that, the Ice have two big road trips, with only one more game at home for the rest of January.