Ice split with Tigers, Raiders

Kootenay on opposite ends of a shutout in Medicine Hat and at Western Financial Place.

Kootenay Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski tracks the puck outside the crease while Dylan Busenius of the Prince Albert Raiders tries to get a stick on it during WHL action at Western Financial Place on Sunday evening.

Kootenay Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski tracks the puck outside the crease while Dylan Busenius of the Prince Albert Raiders tries to get a stick on it during WHL action at Western Financial Place on Sunday evening.

The Kootenay Ice experienced polar opposites over the weekend by being on both ends of a shutout.

The Ice were held scoreless on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to Medicine Hat, but returned home to keep Prince Albert off the scoreboard in a 2-0 win on Sunday.

Ice crease guardian Mackenzie Skapski was in net for both games, recording his first shutout of the new campaign against the Raiders.

“We’ve been inconsistent as of late, including myself, and today was a bounce-back game for me compared to yesterday, so I’m glad to get the first one of the year,” said Skapski.

“…We all weren’t happy with our effort yesterday [Saturday]. Everybody needs to be on board for us to be successful and yesterday there were quite a few passengers and today, everybody was on board, and the results came.”

The Raiders, who were in town on a four-game road trip, have cooled since their hot start of five straight wins to open the season. The team is led by former Kootenay Ice head coach Cory Clouston, who signed on to coach the club in the offseason, replacing Steve Young.

Clouston was an assistant to Ice head coach Ryan McGill during his first tenure with the team from 1997-2002, before taking on the top job for five years. During Clouston’s reign as head coach, he became the franchise’s winningest coach, until McGill recently surpassed it a few weeks ago while back for his second tenure.

McGill said it was nice to visit with his former colleague before the game, but when the game gets going, it’s all business.

“Once the puck drops, it doesn’t matter, you want to win the game,” said McGill, “but certainly when I came out, gave him a little hello and it’s good to see him back in the league and they have a nice team over there.”

Skapski earned his shutout against the Raiders with 30 saves and was, by far, the best player on the Kootenay squad. He robbed Gage Quinney, who was all alone at the side of the net, with a sharp leg save, and also stood tall on a few odd-man rushes throughout the night.

“Our goaltender was there to make two key and huge saves in the second period, made a couple big saves in the third period, but we need to be better as a group, for sure,” said McGill.

On the other side of the rink was Nick McBride, the stopper for the Raiders, who played a solid game as well, limiting the Ice to only one goal in 31 shots.

He was sharp all game, save for an effort by Descheneau, who took a feed from Reinhart inside the offensive zone an sneaked a low shot into the net.

Luke Philp added a second goal with the empty net in the dying minute of the game to make it a 2-0 final.

Though McBride was solid in goal, the Ice had their chances to put more pucks into the net, something that McGill took issue with.

“Obviously, we were happy that we won, but we can’t continually rely on Reinhart and Descheneau to score goals,” McGill said. “We need some secondary scoring from guys who are getting plenty of ice time and ample opportunity, so sooner or later, it’s going to bite us in the you-know-what.

“We need to get guys that can drive to the net, get second and third chances to the net and lessen our turnovers in the neutral zone.”

Combined, Reinhart and Descheneau have scored 15 goals for the Ice this year, which equals 51 per cent of the team’s offensive production.

Special teams wasn’t a factor at all against Prince Albert, as no penalties were called on either side for the whole game.

Earlier, on Saturday, the Tigers scored once in each period to beat the Ice in Medicine Hat.

Goals came from Miles Koules, Cole Sanford and Chad Labelle, while Skapski made 18 saves in defeat.

Both teams were shut out in five powerplay opportunities.

Kootenay is tied with the Hitmen at 11 points in the Eastern Conference, however, Calgary holds the upper rung at fifth place in the standings with a game in hand.