Ice forward Matt Alfaro laughs in practice on October 12

Ice forward Matt Alfaro laughs in practice on October 12

Ice vs. Pats 2: Bad blood

Last season’s top WHL scorer, Adam Brooks, joins the cast of the much-anticipated, star-studded sequel to the Kootenay Ice's first win.

Brad McLeod

At the end of the third act, all hope seemed lost. After fighting so hard, the underdogs once again found themselves at their wit’s end. Following 60 minutes of heart-pumping action, filled with twists and turns, they only had one chance to make it out alive.

And then it happened. A young hero grabbed his shot at redemption and avenged his fallen twin brother. They had won. They were safe. At last, the Kootenay Ice had won their first game of the season.

Last Friday’s game between the Ice and the Regina Pats could have easily been a Hollywood blockbuster.

After losing their first five games by a single goal, Kootenay — at the bottom of the league standings — earned their first win against the Top-10-in-the-CHL ranked Pats in dramatic fashion.

Halfway through the first period Kaeden Taphorn was forced to exit the game after Pats defenceman Austin Wagner hit his head into the boards from behind, leaving him pouring with blood. A fight ensued between Wagner and defenceman Troy Murray but the Ice kept their cool.

As a result of the ensuing powerplay, Kootenay started to build their lead, which by the first intermission was a 3-0 cushion. After the break, the Pats came out firing on all cylinders and the Ice lost their lead, giving up the tying marker at the beginning of the third period.

They hung on by a string and then just when it seemed like they were going to suffer the same fate as they had every night before, Keenan Taphorn was sprung on a break and buried his chance for an overtime game-winner.

Now, only a week later, the sequel is already on hand, as the Pats visit Cranbrook for a rematch on Friday.

Last game’s villain, Wagner, is back in the Pats lineup after being suspended for the past two games and last year’s WHL leading scorer, Adam Brooks, will be playing in his second game back in the league after getting a chance at Toronto Maple Leafs training camp.

Ice coach Luke Pierce, however, is much less romantic about the seemingly epic game.

“We’re mainly focused on the process, just making sure we’re getting better,” he said. “[If we do that], the wins will start to come and we feel confident about that. It’d be nice to get [a home win] out of the way early and I think our fans deserve it — they’ve been great — we just need a little bit extra and we’ll come out on the right side.”

Pierce doesn’t see the game as being about revenge or redemption in any way, but just another stiff test against one of the best team’s in the league.

“I think we did a good job [last game] right after [the Wagner hit], the way you make them pay is by scoring goals and we got our revenge in that sense,” he said. “I think it’s just extra motivation for our guys to compete.

“We have to play them hard, there’s no question, [but] the game doesn’t allow for retribution anymore and we just have to focus on making sure we try to hurt them on the scoreboard.”

Although he couldn’t make any guarantees, Pierce said he is hopeful that Kaeden Taphorn could be back for Friday’s game. He missed the last two contests after receiving close to 30 stitches in his face as a result of the hit.

“There’s a chance [he could be back], just as long as there’s no risk of tearing stitches or infection,” he said on Taphorn’s status. “He’s a tough kid [and I] give him credit. We hope to see him back, we’ve certainly missed him the last two games.”

The Ice also must accommodate another new arrival to the series in Adam Brooks. Brooks was recently cut from his shot at making the professional leagues this year and is looking to build upon his 2015-16 campaign where he got a league-best 120 points in 72 games.

In his WHL-return on Wednesday against the Portland Winterhawks, Brooks scored two goals.

“He’s a very dynamic player and he adds to their already potent offense so it’s just another wrinkle to the game plan,” he said on the adjustments his team will have to make. “We obviously have a bit of confidence [having beat the Pats last week] but we have to understand that they’re going to come in looking for retribution.

“They’re going to  be a much better team especially to start. We’re not going to catch them sleeping and we’ve got to be ready to go.”

According to Pierce, Payton Lee will start in net on Friday and if he’s good, he’ll be back for their next game. The Ice are carrying three goaltenders on their roster, but are still expected to re-assign one of them by the end of the week.

On Saturday, the Ice will play their first game of the year against the Red Deer Rebels and while Pierce believes it will also be a good test, it’s hard to look beyond the Pats game for now.

“[Red Deer] is still searching a little bit for their identity too and they’ve had some real good outings and had some tough outings,” he said. “They’re a big group and play a physical game [and] I think of all the teams we’ve seen so far, they’ll be the closest to us in the size factor.

“We’re still at this point focused on one game at a time, and we’ll worry about Regina first.”

Puck-drop for round two of the Pats-Ice series is at 7 p.m. at Western Financial Place. The Ice enter the game with a 1-5-1-1 record and are still seeking their first home win.

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

Cranbrook Arts has opened the doors of their  new gallery space to the public with their inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best.
‘Kootenay’s Best’ opens Cranbrook Arts’ new gallery

This exhibit has been in the works for the past several months and features the work of more than 50 emerging and established artists from across the Kootenays

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read