‘Little things’ sink Ice in Prince Albert

Raiders claim late victory despite star performance from Hoflin; Ice move on to Saskatoon

Taylor Rocca

The Kootenay Ice dropped their sixth consecutive road game Tuesday night, falling to the Prince Albert Raiders 3-2 in front of 2,071 fans at Art Hauser Place.

“Little things that we’ve been harping on in practice that don’t seem to matter to the players are showing through,” said Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill over the phone following the game. “They can see the fact that the little things and the little details they have to do to be successful are the things that are letting us down right now.

“Hopefully this is a wake-up call.”

The loss dropped the Ice to 3-8-0-0 overall this season, and 1-6-0-0 on the road. The win improve the Raiders to 5-6-0-0.

The Ice got out to a quick start in Prince Albert, claiming a 2-0 lead before the game was even 10 minutes old.

Forwards Levi Cable and River Beattie scored back-to-back markers less than three minutes apart to shock the hometown crowd before the mid-mark of the first period.

Beattie’s goal was the first of his WHL career and came off a nice feed from second-year forward Zak Zborosky.

After that, it was all Raiders.

Matteo Gennaro got the hosts to within one before the end of the first period before Winnipeg Jets prospect Josh Morrissey knotted things 2-2.

Offensive struggles and power-play struggles often go hand-in-hand and that was the case in the third period Tuesday in Prince Albert.

After Jayden Hart put the Raiders ahead 3-2, over-age defenceman Sawyer Lange was given the gate for holding with 5:25 to play, handing the Ice a prime opportunity to tie the game on the man advantage.

“Our execution just isn’t where it needs to be right now on the power play,” McGill said. “So we need to work on that.”

The Ice came up empty-handed on their third power-play chance of the night.

“When you have a good game plan, you’ve got to execute,” McGill said. “Unfortunately, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him wear a bathing suit.

“[The players] have to execute the plays themselves.”

Wyatt Hoflin once again give his team a chance to win, turning aside 33 of the 36 shots sent his way in a performance worthy of the second star of the night. At the other end of the rink, Nick McBride blocked 28 of 30 shots for the win.

As it was the last time the Ice ventured out to Saskatchewan, the team faces a quick turnaround between games. Kootenay moves on to face the Saskatoon Blades (3-7-0-0) tonight at 7 p.m.

“We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror, execute plays, be determined and have a second effort around the net,” McGill said. “We’ve got to do all the little things right.

“Our goalie was a star again tonight and our goalie needs to stop being a star. Our team needs to be a star.”

Saskatoon rang up three wins in a row before the Edmonton Oil Kings visited Credit Union Centre Oct. 18 and put a stop to the Blades’ winning streak with a 6-4 defeat.

Despite travelling with the team, forward Tim Bozon missed Tuesday’s contest in Prince Albert and isn’t scheduled to play tonight in Saskatoon due to a lower-body injury. He is expected to be ready when the Ice return home to host the Calgary Hitmen Friday night at Western Financial Place.

Defenceman Rinat Valiev missed his 11th game with a lower-body injury and won’t be ready for another one to two weeks. After playing four periods of hockey this past weekend, Jon Martin was returned to the injury list and missed his first game in a second bout with an upper-body injury. He is also expected to be unavailable for one to two weeks.

“When you put Rinat [Valiev] into the lineup and you put Tim Bozon into the lineup, everybody falls to where they need to play,” McGill said.

Forward Vince Loschiavo returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury Oct. 8 in Regina.