Kootenay Ice look for full 60 effort on weekend road games

The Kootenay Ice have lost their last four games, but that’s not stopping their optimism heading into a weekend road trip.

Though the Ice played four games in five nights, head coach James Patrick said this wasn’t a factor in the losses.

“Every team goes through tight schedules,” he said. “For the most part, I liked a lot of our first three games.”

Three of the four losses were all by a single goal, with two games going into overtime.

Despite the rough stretch, forward Jakin Smallwood recorded his first WHL goal in the 4-3 shootout loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Oct. 13.

“It all happened in a flash,” he said about his goal. “[Davis Murray] took the puck behind the net and threw it out, and it got right on my stick and I happened to put it in the net. It’s an awesome feeling getting the first one out of the way. It’s a relief off the back for sure.”

Tuesday, the Ice were in Lethbridge to play the Hurricanes but lost 6-3.

“They really outplayed us, they out-chanced us. We got a little frustrated and away from our system. They are a really good team, they have big bodies and they have good speed, their defence moves the puck as good as any I’ve seen this year for sure. So, for us to be successful we have to play our system to a T,” said Patrick.

At practice Thursday, the team focused on battling for the puck and puck management.

“I really like our group, they come to work and today we have a really good video session. I liked our practice, I like the attitude. The players know how we have to play to be better, so we are working on it,” said Patrick.

Forward Brett Davis was sidelined with an injury for the last past couple of games but was back in action against Lethbridge.

“It gives us a little more, we can have two lines that have a little more of an offensive look, and I think that’s really important. It certainly makes it a tougher matchup for other teams,” said Patrick.

The Ice will take on the Red Deer Rebels (5-3-1) at ENMAX Centrium Saturday and then head to Rogers Place to take on the Edmonton Oil Kings (5-6-0-1) Sunday.

“Both teams have gotten off to good starts. I think we can learn from our last game, learn from how much we can be better in so many areas. I think a lot of it is correctable, and if we play our system and come with as good as effort and compete as we can, we are going to be in these games and give yourself as good a chance to win,” said Patrick.

Defenceman Nolan Orzeck said to get out of the four-game losing streak they need to focus on playing the whole 60 minutes.

“Stay strong on our systems, get pucks in deep and lots of shots on net, and put pressure on their [defenceman],” he said.

This is Orzeck’s first full season in the lineup and said he has seen his game progress. He scored his first Dub goal in the season opener against the Spokane Chiefs.

“I got off to a rough start, kind of, but I feel more comfortable out there, more confident skating with the puck and moving it. I feel good and hopefully I can keep it up,” he said.

The Ice will be back on home ice Oct. 24 as they face the Brandon Wheat Kings at Western Financial Place.

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