The Kootenay Ice are likely relieved that they only have to play the Tri-City Americans once during the regular season.
After opening the preseason on the road with a 7-0 loss to the Kennewick, Washington club last Thursday, the Ice paid another visit last night and lost 6-0.
While Kootenay had been trending upwards after a win on Saturday against the defending WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds, according to head coach James Patrick, they were simply outworked by the Americans.
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) September 13, 2017
“There wasn’t too much good [from our end],” Patrick said in a video interview posted on the team’s social media page after the game. “[Tri-City] won about 80 percent of the 50-50 battles for loose pucks. They were way stronger on the puck [and] they backchecked.”
While the game stayed scoreless for the first half of the opening period, a Martin Bodak penalty led to a power play goal and got the Ice down 1-0 after the first period.
Newly acquired goalie Bailey Brkin played the opening 30 minutes of the game and let in three more goals in the second period to end his night with 16 saves on 20 shots.
Veteran Marion Petit then finished the game, letting in a goal late in the second and early in the third for nine saves on 11 shots. According to Patrick, goaltending was not the issue.
“I haven’t done a good enough job getting through to [our] guys [about] the importance of tracking back and backchecking and it showed,” he said. “When we did get pucks on the net, we had five guys on the outside and they had five guys on the inside. If you’re not going to get pucks to the net, bodies to the net, it’s going to be hard to score.”
The Americans goal scoring came from all over their lineup, with six different players scoring and 12 total getting on the scoresheet.
While the Ice played a young group, with Patrick setting the main priority of the night to get another look at the team’s rookies, according to Bodak in a post-game interview, that was not an excuse for their poor play.
“They might be a little bit older [but] we can’t say that’s [why we lost],” Bodak said. “We took too many penalties and that’s not helping us. We also didn’t backcheck as well as we have to [and] we have to improve.”
The Ice’s penalty kill went two for four on the night, and the team didn’t score on any of their three chances with the man advantage. Kootenay’s power play has scored just once in 17 chances this preseason.
The Ice now only have two preseason games remaining, with the team travelling to nearby Crowsnest Pass, Alberta for matches against the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday and the Calgary Hitmen on Saturday.
According to Patrick, the team’s lineup for these games should be a lot more similar to what they will have in the regular season.
“We’ll try to get as close to our opening night roster as [we can],” he told the media on Monday. “We have to get closer to playing the team with our lines together and seeing who can play with who.”
The Ice will kick off their regular season at home on Friday, September 22 against the Calgary Hitmen. Their one and only game against Tri-City will be held on February 16 at Western Financial Place.