The Kootenay Ice’s playoff hopes were dashed during a night off on Saturday, as the Red Deer Rebels clinched the third and final available spot in the Central Division.
Needing just a single point to officially eliminate the Ice from contention, the Rebels came back from a 2-1 deficit in their game against the Medicine Hat Tigers to earn a 5-2 victory.
The previous night, Kootenay pushed the Memorial Cup host Regina Pats to overtime, but were only able to gain a point, as they lost 2-1 in the extra frame.
The Ice will now miss the playoffs for a third straight season. Prior to 2015-16, the team had made the postseason for 17 consecutive years, the entire tenure of their time in Cranbrook.
After back-to-back years of finishing in last place in the WHL, the Ice appeared to be returning to form this season and at the midway point were in second place in the division. The team struggled down the stretch, however, and have put up a 8-21-2-1 record since then.
The Rebels, on the other hand, have skyrocketed from being near the bottom of the division in January and have a 14-5-2-0 record in their past 21 games.
Kootenay has four games remaining this season, including a matinee today in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. They then play the Calgary Hitmen on the road on Wednesday, before finishing their season with a home-and-home against Red Deer next weekend.
The Ice are currently on a nine-game losing streak and play their final game in Cranbrook on Saturday, March 17.