A lack of discipline factored into both Ice games, as the Regina Pats fell 4-1 at the hands of the hometown team on Friday, but a deadly power play from the Hurricanes allowed Lethbridge to double up 4-2 against Kootenay on Saturday.
The Ice also cut down to the limit of three 20-year-olds by dealing forward Elgin Pearce to the Medicine Hat Tigers for a fifth round pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft on Saturday (see below).
Goaltender Mackenzie Skapski earned his first win as a starter against the Pats, while backup Wyatt Hoflin got his first taste of the regular season during the tilt against Lethbridge.
The Ice opened the contest with the Pats by introducing the team to the crowd of 2,531 at Western Financial Place in the first home game of the new season.
Sam Reinhart ended the game with two late goals and an assist, while Erik Benoit and Brock Montgomery provided the other offence as the franchise picked up it’s 600th career victory.
Trent Ouellette scored the lone goal for the Pats.
Skapski made 19 stops, while Teegan Sacher turned the puck away 18 times for Regina.
Regina was without head coach Pat Conacher, who is currently back in his hometown of Calgary, dealing with an undisclosed personal matter.
The tone was set early in the game, when Ice defenceman Tanner Faith took a hard hit from Henry Hardarson along the boards inside the Kootenay zone. Defensive partner Mike Simpson went in for retribution as most of the players paired up into shoving matches.
Ice forward Jon Martin ended up dropping the mitts with Tye Hand, which earned them each a fighting major and a game ejection for being the second guys in.
“Simmer [Simpson] did a really good job of defending one of our teammates and Marty [Martin] stepped up as well,” said Benoit. “That gets all the boys fired up on the bench and it’s really good to see.”
Benoit himself struck first on a solo effort late in the opening frame, stuffing the puck past Sacher at the corner of the net.
Cracks began to show in the discipline of the Pats in the second period.
Sacher pounced on a flubbed pass in the slot from his defenceman while killing a penalty, but that didn’t stop Ice forward Jordyn Boyd from having a whack at it. That irritated the Regina skaters on the ice and an scrum formed, which ended with another Pats jersey in the sin bin.
The Ice, with a two-man advantage, capitalized when Montgomery took a pass from the side of the net, dragged it to his forehand and roofed it over Sacher’s shoulder.
Skapski made some big saves to preserve Kootenay’s lead against Pats forward Chandler Stephenson, who got two chances all alone in front of the net in the third period.
“We got our first win and it’s a step of progress, our team played well today and I thought my personal game took a stride of progress, compared to my last two games,” said Skapski.
Reinhart got his first goal of the regular season late in the third period by picking up the garbage in front of the net after Jakub Prochazka drove the puck to the crease.
Regina answered with their lone goal a minute later when Ouellette jammed away at a puck in Skapski’s pads after a save on a shot from the blue line.
Hardarson got involved in his second scrap of the night with Ice defeceman Jeff Hubic, after the Kootenay player made a big hit in the offensive zone corner.
Hubic started the game on defence, but moved into the forward ranks to cover the absence of Martin after his ejection.
Reinhart got his second of the game within the final 60 seconds on the power play, taking a feed from Collin Shirley to snipe a shot into the top corner.
Former Ice forward Adam Rossignol made a return to his old home barn as part of the Pats lineup, which picked him up after the Swift Current Broncos released him after training camp.
The following night, it was the Ice’s turn to come unglued as undisciplined penalties sunk their opportunity for another home win.
Despite the loss, Holfin looked good in his debut, as there wasn’t much he could’ve done about some of the Hurricanes’ powerplay goals.
He made 25 saves, while Ty Rimmer, who minded the net for Lethbridge, stopped 16 shots.
The Ice grabbed the lead for the second consecutive game when Jagger Dirk snapped a sharp angle shot high over the shoulder of Rimmer, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans in the offseason.
However, Jaimen Yakubowski responded early in the second period, scoring from the slot after taking a pass from behind Hoflin’s net.
Montgomery scored his second goal of the weekend and put the Ice ahead five minutes later, settling the puck in front of Rimmer and wiring a low shot into the corner.
The Ice started a march to the penalty box afterwards, as Dirk took an interference and high-sticking penalties, while Tanner Faith got whistled for interference in between.
Daniel Johnston put a point shot past Hoflin on a two-man advantage to tie up the game and Russell Maxwell capitalized on a backdoor pass on another powerplay to put Lethbridge in the lead.
Maxwell scored again from the slot on another power play in the third period, notching his fourth and final point of a monster night from the 18-year-old.
Discipline from the Ice bench was lacking for most of the final frame, starting with an early check-from-behind penalty by Jaedon Descheneau.
Albin Blomqvist and Jon Martin exchanged pleasantries after the the Hurricanes’ defenceman didn’t like a hit from the Ice forward on a teammate. Martin ended up in the box for charging, while Kootenay defenceman Joey Leach was tossed with a 10-minute misconduct for arguing with the official.
Everything fell apart afterwards on a missed call off a high-stick on Montgomery in the Hurricanes’ zone.
The Ice forward, hunched over with his face in his hands, skated back towards his bench, but took exception with some chatter coming from Lethbridge side and reached across the boards to take some swings at the offender.
That set off a line brawl as everyone grabbed a dance partner and started swinging.
“We lacked discipline tonight,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill. “We played a very solid first period and we didn’t play the same way [after], knowing Lethbridge was going to come out even harder.
“We lacked discipline with penalties and we lacked discipline with the way we need to play to be successful.”
The Ice have a week off before facing the Prince Albert Raiders next Sunday at Western Financial Place at 6 p.m.