Kroeker leads Kootenay Ice past Oil Kings for fifth straight win

Captain scores twice in Edmonton, including game-winner in overtime to extend team’s hot streak

It’s a final score that Kootenay Ice fans are starting to get accustomed to. Playing on the road in Edmonton on Saturday, the team pulled out a 4-3 win for a fourth straight game.

As has been the trend of late, the Ice kept fans on the edge of their seats until the very end of the night and won in overtime. Captain Colton Kroeker led the way with a pair of goals, while Cam Hausinger had two points to extend his point streak to six games.

Although the game was closer than many may have expected between the upwards-trending Ice and the bottom-of-the-standings Oil Kings, the Cranbrook club once again found a way to secure two points.

Kootenay got off to a quick start at Rogers Place, scoring just 21 seconds into the night. Taking advantage of a lively puck, Alec Baer bobbled a chance towards the net that bounced behind goalie Josh Dechaine. Keenan Taphorn then knocked it out of the air at the goal line for his third goal of the season.

Three minutes later, Hausinger made a cross-ice pass to Kroeker who shot from long distance to beat Dechaine high glove side.

Although the Ice were all over the Oil Kings to start the first period, the gap started to close as time wore on. Despite seemingly being given an advantage after an Edmonton two many men penalty, Kootenay’s 22nd overall power play was bested by the league’s 22nd overall penalty kill.

Stripping a puck from Brad Ginnell, Trey Fix-Wolansky broke in for a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Davis Koch, who easily ripped one past Bailey Brkin.

The game was then tied early in the second frame, as an innocent poor angle rush chance by Colton Kehler seemed to go right through Brkin’s chest.

Things then went from bad to worse for the goalkeeper, as he shot a puck out of play for a delay of game call. Kootenay managed to kill off the power play, however, and then capitalized on their own chance in the latter half of the period.

Following a Conner McDonald charging penalty, the Ice converted on an efficient man advantage with Hausinger’s getting net front presence and slipping in the rebound of a Brett Davis point shot.

The 3-2 lead was very short-lived though, and just 13 seconds later Fix-Wolansky walked in and had a shot deflect off teammate Tomas Soustal to get the game back to a tie.

Edmonton finished regulation strong with a 13-5 shot third period, but the Ice held on for overtime. Carrying a 5-2 record in games that go to a three-on-three portion and not having played in a single shootout all season, Kootenay took care of business efficiently.

Kroeker took advantage of a lot of defensive zone room and at the 42-second mark, walked in and picked the top corner of the net to give his team a fifth straight win.

The victory put the team back at over .500 and their 18-17-2-0 record have them knocking at the door of first place in the Central Division. Only the Medicine Hat Tigers have more points in the division with 40 (Kootenay has 38), but a showdown between the two teams on Monday could end with them tied in the standings.

The New Year’s Day match at Western Financial Place will be a big test for the red-hot Ice, who have lost twice to the Tigers this season (11-1 and 4-1) and were swept in the teams’ seven game season series in 2016-17.

Coming into the the game with their first five-game winning streak in three years, the Ice will be looking for their first six-game streak since February of 2014. Puck drop on Monday is at 4:00 p.m. in Cranbrook.

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