A change of scenery appears to be just what the doctor ordered for the Kootenay Ice.
In the first of five games in seven days away from home, the Ice skated to a 5-2 victory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton on Wednesday night.
The win ended a three-game losing streak for the team and marked a return to form for their top forward line of Vince Loschiavo, Brett Davis, and Colton Kroeker.
After a pair of rough games, the trio were separated by coach Luke Pierce at home against the Lethbridge Hurricanes last Saturday, but returned in a big way combining for 9 points in a decisive team victory.
Cale Fleury kicked off the night for the Ice less than four minutes in, walking in on a power play and firing a shot from the top of the faceoff circle on a give-and-go with Kroeker.
Kootenay extended their lead just minutes later as Kroeker found Loschiavo alone in front for an easy goal against Patrick Dea.
Although Davis Koch beat Payton Lee to cut the lead in half at the eight-and-a-half minute mark of the first period, the Ice went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.
In the second frame, the Ice quickly put in an insurance marker on another power play opportunity. It was the second unit making an impact this time with Noah Philp placing a perfect pass from behind the net to Dallas Hines.
Hines’ slap shot from the slot sailed past Dea and gave the Ice a comfortable lead that lasted until the last minute of the period when they added another.
Once again, it was the Loschiavo-Kroeker connection as the two converted on a two-on-one with Kroeker completing a one-timer off the rush.
Conner McDonald almost set off a comeback with a goal in the last three minutes of the third period, being fed on the doorstop by Davis Murray, but the Oil Kings couldn’t muster enough attack to see it through.
With their net empty, Brett Davis ended the game with a shot just past the centre red line that lasered its way into the back of the net.
After outshooting the Hurricanes 33-29 in their last game, the Ice once again kept their shots against to a healthy amount, limiting Edmonton to 32 while putting up 30 themselves.
For their efforts, Kroeker and Loschiavo were named the first and second stars of the game, respectively, while Lee was the third star for a 30 save and one assist performance.
The loss was the Oil Kings’ eighth straight defeat, as the team is quickly becoming competitive with the Ice, the Vancouver Giants and the Prince Albert Raiders in the race for the bottom.
Although Kootenay is currently in last place in the WHL with 38 points in 62 games, the Raiders only have 41 in 64, the Giants have 43 in 64 and the Oil Kings have 45 in 64 and are falling fast.
The Ice have a chance to make their situation better by next week, but it will be a slog. The team faces the Blades in Saskatoon on Friday, the Raiders in Prince Albert on Saturday, and the Warriors in Moose Jaw on Sunday.
In their last game against the Blades, the Ice picked up a 3-2 victory in overtime. Although Saskatoon won the other two games of the series, every game has been decided by a single goal and Kootenay should have a good chance of wrapping up the season series at two wins apiece.
The Blades are one spot out of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot and have lost seven of their last eight games.
Prince Albert’s tough season is also continuing. They are currently on a four-game losing streak but have a 2-1 advantage on the Ice in the season series.
Moose Jaw, on the other hand, is on a seven-game winning streak and have a perfect 3-0 season series record over Kootenay.
The last time the Warriors and Ice met, it was a chippy and emotional affair that ended with Lee having to be restrained off the ice after some late goaltender interference.
Following the game on Sunday, Kootenay has one more road game in Medicine Hat on Tuesday before returning to Cranbrook for the first of a home-and-home against the Red Deer Rebels on March 10.
In total, the Ice only have 10 games remaining this season and only three are at their home rink.
Puck drop at the SaskTel Centre is at 6 p.m. MST on Friday.