Kootenay Ice defenceman Cale Fleury hit two birds with one stone when he scored during the third period of play against the Red Deer Rebels Friday night at Western Financial Place.
The marker was the first of the 16-year-old blue-liner’s WHL career and he silenced his older brother, Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury, in the process.
“Right before [he scored], I asked him what he was doing on the ice if they needed a goal,” Haydn said with a laugh after the game. “I guess I kind of ate that one, but it was good to see.”
With less than five minutes to play and the Ice trailing the Rebels 3-0, the younger Fleury stepped onto the ice with his team in search of some life.
Luke Philp delivered a pass and the rookie defenceman slid the puck past Rebels goaltender Taz Burman to get his team on the scoreboard and claim his first-career WHL goal.
“[Haydn] was chirping me a little bit during the face-off,” Fleury said. “It definitely felt pretty good to score right after that.”
Fleury was the only Kootenay Ice to beat Burman Friday night, as the Rebels scraped out a 3-1 victory over their Central Division rivals from Cranbrook.
For the Rebels, Friday’s win served as a bit of retribution after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Ice last week at the Enmax Centrium.
“They took two points off us in our building, so we had to come back and do the same thing,” Haydn said. “They had Sam [Reinhart] back tonight, so that was another guy we had to focus on. We had to focus on their key guys and we did that tonight.”
In his return from the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, Reinhart had a tough go of things as he was held off the scoresheet for only the second time in 16 games with the Ice this season. After returning to Cranbrook from the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, Reinhart rattled off 27 points in his first 14 games. He is now pointless in two consecutive contests.
To make matters worse, the Kootenay captain blocked a shot with the inside of his foot during the third period. Reinhart made his way gingerly off the ice, but would end up finishing the game.
Following the contest, the native of North Vancouver was having his foot examined for any potential damage and was unavailable for comment.
The Rebels did the bulk of their scoring in the first period with goals from Jeff de Wit and Presten Kopeck.
de Wit opened the scoring 2:16 into the festivities by throwing the puck in front of the Kootenay net from below the goal line. The puck careened past a surprised Wyatt Hoflin after hitting the leg of an Ice defender in front and just like that, the Rebels had a quick 1-0 advantage.
Kopeck made it 2-0 with 12 seconds remaining in the first period after long sustained pressure in Kootenay Ice territory.
A disputed icing call led to an offensive zone face-off for the Rebels. After winning the draw, the visitors maintained pressure before Kopeck was able to capitalize.
Rebels forward Riley Sheen gave his team a 3-0 lead midway through the third period as he walked across the Ice blue-line and snapped a power-play tally past Hoflin.
Starting a franchise-record 29th consecutive game between the pipes, Hoflin made 19 stops in a losing effort. At the other end of the rink, Burman blocked 30 pucks for the win.
Recently-acquired forward Connor Gay debuted with his new team, assisting on Kopeck’s marker for his first point as a Red Deer Rebel. On the other side of the puck, it was Ice defenceman Lenny Hackman making his first appearance with his new team.
With the win, the Rebels jumped back ahead of the Calgary Hitmen and into second place in the congested Central Division. The Rebels return home to host the Eastern Conferences leaders in the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday night.
“We’ve got to keep taking it day by day, focusing on getting better each day and developing more as a team,” Haydn said. “This time of the year when it comes down to crunch time, every game is huge. We can’t look too far ahead.”
As for the Ice, they welcome the Saskatoon Blades to Western Financial Place Saturday night hoping to get back into the win column. Including last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Ice have now dropped consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 9 when the Medicine Hat Tigers handed Kootenay a 4-1 loss on the heels of a 5-4 defeat courtesy of the Tri-City Americans (Dec. 7).
“Simple plays and get pucks to the net, make sure we get guys going to the net to put rebounds in,” Fleury said of what the Ice need to succeed against the Blades. “We didn’t get much of that [Friday] so we have to do that better [Saturday].”
Friday’s loss paired with a 4-2 victory for the Edmonton Oil Kings over the Regina Pats sees the Kootenay Ice slip to fifth in the WHL’s Central Division.
Notes: Friday night, the Kootenay Ice went without D Bryan Allbee (healthy), F Austin Wellsby (healthy), D Rinat Valiev (ill, day to day) and D Tanner Faith (shoulder, indefinite)…The Rebels were without D Austin Strand, D Mario Grman, RW Austin Adamson and D Austin Shmoorkoff…The WHL Trade Deadline arrives at 12 p.m. (MT) Saturday…