Sequels just never seem to be as good, do they?
In the Kootenay Ice’s second home game of the 2017-18 season, the team built up a 4-1 lead after two periods and then lost 6-5 in overtime to the Spokane Chiefs.
Although fans were ready for another celebration at Western Financial Place, the ending let a lot of air out of the building and put the party on hold.
Nowhere was the disappointment more tangible, however, than outside the Ice’s locker room after the game.
“It’s a really bitter sting to lose the way we did [and] I think it’s a real lesson for our team,” head coach James Patrick said at the end of the night. “Every two points are really important, so it’s really disappointing.”
According to Patrick, the team did not play very well after getting a big lead and it cost them a point in the standings. While he did not like the team’s first few minutes either, he otherwise thought it was a well-played game.
“I thought [what we worked on in practice] was there at times, but still not enough to my liking,” the coach explained. “There were times when we got away from our system [and] mental breakdowns. It was a game of mistakes. There are going to be mistakes, but I think today [we weren’t] composed [enough] after [those] mistakes.”
Kootenay got on the board first on Friday night, as they have in all three games they’ve played this year. Barrett Sheen found the back of the net near the midway point with a strong move in front of the net off a setup from Peyton Krebs.
The Ice then took advantage of their first power play opportunity and Alec Baer deflected a shot by Brett Davis, fed to him by Krebs, to double their lead.
The 2-0 scoreline stuck until midway through the second period, when Baer put in another power play marker assisted by Martin Bodak and Krebs.
To cap off a four-point night, Krebs added to the lead with a goal of his own a few minutes later, when he put in a rebound off a shot by Bodak.
Unfortunately, penalty trouble in short-succession — with Gilian Kohler being called for hooking and Vince Loschiavo being tagged with cross-checking — set up a 5-on-3 for Spokane near the end of the middle frame.
Chiefs defenceman Ty Smith put in a goal from Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Ethan McIndoe on the double man advantage and sent the game into its second intermission at 4-1.
After being the more dominant team through 40 minutes, the Ice found themselves behind the eight ball in the third period.
Spokane opened up the scoring with Riley McKay snapping a shot from the left circle from Smith and Hayden Ostir, before Vince Loschiavo added another Kootenay power play goal.
Riley Woods then scored an unassisted marker for the Chiefs, which was followed up by teammate Anderson-Dolan’s first goal of the season.
Only down by a single goal, Spokane pulled their goalie and went to work with an extra-attacker. Although the Ice nearly scored twice on the yawning cage, Davis put one off the crossbar and Fleury missed the mark by inches.
With just over 30 seconds remaining, Woods then scored another goal and forced overtime. Two minutes into the 3-on-3 session, overager Rykr Cole won the game for the visiting team with a rocket slap shot.
For Krebs, it was a frustrating way to end a night with so much individual success.
“It felt good [to put up those points] and I think it was a team effort,” the rookie said. “There are a lot of guys on my line that can shoot the puck and score, [but] the biggest thing is that we needed to get the win.”
Now leading the team in scoring, with five points in three games, Krebs had to give credit to the Chiefs for pulling out the gutsy win.
“The Chiefs are a good hockey club. We had a lead and we didn’t keep it, [so] kudos to them for fighting back,” he said. “[If] we’re in this situation [again], it won’t happen.”
Baer, who got his first two goals as a member of the Ice, said that the loss was the result of immaturity.
“We were all outplaying them both 5-on-5 and [on] special teams, but in the end I think it’s just immature hockey on our part to let them come back,” Baer said. “We were a little lackadaisical and it cost us.”
The coach echoed his sentiments, and added that some of the most disappointing plays at the end of the game came from guys who should know better.
“Maybe it’s a group of guys who haven’t played with leads too many times the last couple of years because when we did have the lead, the biggest culprits were our veteran guys,” Patrick said. “[They were the ones] diving in, giving up three on ones, not getting pucks deep, not bearing down with an empty net [and] going for an empty net with 30 seconds left.
“They were critical mistakes made by our leaders and our veterans.”
The Ice went three-for-six on the power play on Friday, and were five-for-six on the penalty kill. The continuing success of the special teams was not enough though, and the team is eager to get revenge on Spokane.
Kootenay will play at the Chiefs’ building on Saturday night and will hope to have a more consistent 60 minutes of hockey on the road.
“I think it’s good for us to not have to sit on a game like this for a week,” Patrick said of the quick turnaround. “We can redeem ourselves. They can learn from it and they can do something about it tomorrow.”
Brkin had 33 saves on 39 shots for the Ice, while Dawson Weatherill had 32 saves on 37 shots for the Chiefs. There were 2,573 fans in attendance at Western Financial Place.
The game at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena is at 8:05 p.m. and the Ice return to Cranbrook to face the Edmonton Oil Kings at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.
After three games, the Ice have a 1-1-1-0 record and are in fourth place in the Central division.
1st Period-1, Kootenay, Sheen 1 (Krebs, Bodak), 8:39. 2, Kootenay, Baer 1 (Davis, Krebs), 15:00 (PP). Penalties-Kohler Ktn (delay of game), 12:08; Helgesen Spo (hooking), 14:49; Leduc Spo (roughing), 18:12; McKay Spo (roughing), 18:12; Sheen Ktn (roughing), 18:12; Smith Spo (holding), 18:46.
2nd Period-3, Kootenay, Baer 2 (Bodak, Krebs), 10:14 (PP). 4, Kootenay, Krebs 1 (Bodak, Sheen), 14:50. 5, Spokane, Smith 2 (Anderson-Dolan, McIndoe), 17:10 (PP). Penalties-Toporowski Spo (major-fighting), 1:13; Pouliot Ktn (major-fighting), 1:13; Ross Spo (roughing), 6:15; Woods Spo (hooking), 9:12; Fleury Ktn (slashing), 12:16; Kohler Ktn (hooking), 15:08; Loschiavo Ktn (cross checking), 16:28; Helgesen Spo (roughing), 19:06; Krebs Ktn (roughing), 19:06; Sheen Ktn (roughing), 19:06; Davis Ktn (hooking), 19:56.
3rd Period-6, Spokane, McKay 1 (Ostir, Smith), 6:19. 7, Kootenay, Loschiavo 1 (Kroeker, Fleury), 9:53 (PP). 8, Spokane, Woods 2 11:31. 9, Spokane, Anderson-Dolan 1 ( , Elynuik), 14:45. 10, Spokane, Woods 3 (Smith, Helgesen), 19:29. Penalties-Ostir Spo (hooking), 9:38.
OT Period-11, Spokane, Cole 2 (Elynuik), 1:59. Penalties-No Penalties
Shots on Goal-Spokane 12-11-12-4-39. Kootenay 14-13-9-1-37.
Power Play Opportunities-Spokane 1 / 6; Kootenay 3 / 6.
Goalies-Spokane, Weatherill 3-0-0-0 (37 shots-32 saves). Kootenay, Brkin 1-1-1-0 (39 shots-33 saves).