The slide is over.
With a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos (12-22-4-1) Sunday afternoon, the Kootenay Ice (7-31-3-0) put an end to a 16-game winless streak and collected points in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 20 and 21.
“We’ve played some pretty good hockey lately and to finally close one out with a lot of pressure there late in the third [period], it felt real good,” said Luke Pierce, head coach of the Kootenay Ice, Monday morning. “Hopefully we don’t fall back at all.
“The funny thing with hockey, I don’t think our game in Swift Current was one of our better nights. Obviously relative to how we’ve played over the last month, it was still a good game for us. I thought Saturday night in Moose Jaw was maybe the best hockey game we’ve played in a long time.”
While Sunday’s scoring was fuelled by a line combination featuring left wing Zak Zborosky (1A), centre Matt Alfaro (1A) and right wing Jesse Zaharichuk (2G, 1A), the weekend success was powered by a complete performance right through the entire lineup.
“The whole crew — and that’s what it’s going to take for our team,” Pierce said. “We’ve got to be a 20-man unit that’s working hard. We’re just not deep enough up front, talent wise, to get away with one or two guys [putting in a full effort].”
In Swift Current, Broncos newcomer Lane Pederson opened the scoring with his ninth of the season before the Ice responded with three unanswered goals to claim two points.
Zaharichuk tied the affair midway through the second period.
With only 1:20 remaining in regulation, defenceman Bryan Allbee gave the visitors a 2-1 lead, with the primary assist going to Zaharichuk.
The native of Sherwood Park, Alta., closed out the victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Saturday in Moose Jaw, the Ice claimed one point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Warriors, with Zborosky providing all the offense with a hat-trick effort.
Warriors forward Dryden Hunt tallied his second goal of the night to give the hosts an overtime triumph.
While Zborosky tacked up three goals, his pivot Alfaro provided two helpers.
Rookie goaltender Declan Hobbs made 32 stops on 36 shots in the overtime loss at Moose Jaw, while overage goaltender Wyatt Hoflin turned aside 25 of 26 shots for his fifth win of the season at Swift Current.
For the Ice, claiming three of a possible four points on the road came on the heels of a heartbreaking 6-4 loss to the Red Deer Rebels on New Year’s Eve.
With a 4-3 lead heading into the final moments of the third period, the Ice surrendered three goals in a span of 5:24 as Grayson Pawlenchuk tallied twice, tying the game and providing the empty-net insurance. Import forward Ivan Nikolishin tallied the game-winning goal with only 1:42 left on the clock.
Next up, the Ice host the Regina Pats Friday, Jan. 8 at Western Financial Place.