Kootenay Ice showcase prospects, lose 4-3 to Oil Kings in OT

Kootenay Ice showcase prospects, lose 4-3 to Oil Kings in OT

Loaded up with young talent, team loses first game since elimination from playoff contention

There were a lot of fresh faces in the Kootenay Ice lineup on Sunday afternoon as the team took on the Edmonton Oil Kings on the road.

Playing their first game since their playoff hopes were dashed, the Ice had four affiliate players in action to face the team at the bottom of the WHL standings, while stars like captain Colton Kroeker sat out.

In front of 10,533 fans at Rogers Place, the young Kootenay squad fought their way to overtime against the Oil Kings, but ultimately fell 4-3 to the home side.

In the loss, rookie forward Blake Allan had his first career WHL goal in just his second ever game, while veteran Cam Hausinger had a goal and an assist to add to his breakout year.

The game got off to a tepid start without much action in the opening 10 minutes. Near the midway point, the Oil Kings finally started to bring some pressure and ended up opening the game’s scoring by taking advantage of a rush opportunity. Scott Atkinson created the goal, driving wide around two Ice forwards covering for pinching defencemen, and forcing Duncan McGovern to give up a big rebound to Conner McDonald.

Moments later, the Ice almost tied up the game off a Martin Bodak point shot, but the goal was immediately waved off as Peyton Krebs was ruled to have interfered with the goaltender.

A minute after that, however, Kootenay grabbed a tying goal that stuck. Throwing the puck around the boards, Bobby Russell found Keenan Taphorn who shot a low wrister from the side boards that was tipped in by Allan past Josh Dechaine.

McGovern then preserved the tie a few minutes later with an incredible diving effort after a pair of Oil Kings’ forwards found themselves alone in front with a bobbling puck.

After a clean opening, Atkinson got the first penalty. He was sent off for boarding Ice defenceman Jordan Chudley (who was playing in his first ever WHL game) with just under two minutes left in the first period. Zac Patrick evened up the situation by instigating a fight following the hit.

From there, Edmonton got into penalty trouble, taking a double minor to end the frame and then picking up three more minors in the second.

While Kootenay was unable to score on their early advantage in the middle period, near the five-minute mark playing at even strength, Bodak walked down the middle of the ice and snapped home a goal to give the Ice a 2-1 lead.

After a fairly dominant stretch by the Ice, Trey Fix-Wolansky evened up the game at the midway point with his 30th goal of the season, putting home a fluke pass that went off Matthew Robertson’s pants in front of the Kootenay goal.

On Edmonton’s first and only power play of the game, in the last two minutes of the period, Brett Kemp capitalized on a mad scramble to give his team a lead going into the final intermission.

Although most of the third period returned to the subdued speed of the opening, with the Oil Kings hoping to hang on and the Ice following their lead, the ending was dramatic.

Pulling McGovern in the dying minute, Kootenay passed well in the offensive zone and connected on a tying goal with just 27 seconds left in regulation. A cross-ice pass from Jonathan Smart fed Brad Ginnell who found Hausinger’s stick for a redirection in front of Dechaine.

In overtime, the night finally broke open into an energetic back-and-forth affair. With chances coming both ways, the game finally ended with Kootenay Ice top-prospect Connor McClennon on the ice.

The team’s second overall Bantam draft pick in 2017, McClennon (from nearby Wainwright, Alberta) was playing in his own backyard, and had a number of scoring chances. Unfortunately, while digging out a puck in the corner, Fix-Wolansky beat the 15 year old, took the puck and found Wyatt McLeod alone in front for the game-winning goal.

The loss marked Kootenay’s tenth straight defeat, although the team has picked up single points in three of their last four games. Their next action is in Calgary against the Hitmen on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m, before ending their season with a home-and-home with the Rebels on Friday and Saturday.

NOTES: In addition to Allan, Chudley and McClennon, 17-year-old affiliate player Eli Lieffers played his first game for the Ice this season. Scratched players, other than Colton Kroeker, were Dallas Hines, Sam Huston, Ryan Pouliot, Cole Muir, Gilian Kohler, Sebastian Streu and Nolan Orzeck.