Most people consider ‘one’ the loneliest number. Friday night, it was the only number that mattered as the Kootenay Ice blanked the Regina Pats 1-0 to remain undefeated on home ice to start the 2014-15 WHL season.
Kootenay Ice defenceman Troy Murray added a ‘one’ to his stat sheet when he scored the first goal of his WHL career 33 seconds into the second period. The power-play tally came with Pats forward Dryden Hunt in the penalty box. That one goal was the only goal the Ice needed as netminder Wyatt Hoflin chalked up a fresh ‘one’ on his stat sheet, earning his first-career WHL shutout with a 34-save performance.
“We just try to play a simple game and have a good compete level,” Murray said following the win.
“It feels good. It has been a lot of games since I’ve scored,” he added with a laugh.
The 17-year-old native of White City, Sask. is in his second year with the Ice. He went goalless in his rookie campaign, registering 12 assists in 64 games, before being rewarded with the game-winning goal in his ninth contest of the 2014-15 season.
The game marked Wyatt Hoflin’s eighth appearance of the season, as he improved his record to 3-4-0 with a 3.22 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Hoflin’s first-career goose-egg comes in his 51st WHL appearance.
“It feels really good to finally put a full 60 [minutes] together,” Hoflin said. “It was huge for me and the team.
“For the most, I thought I did a good job of controlling the rebounds. Whenever there was a rebound, the team did a good job of collapsing to the net and picking up sticks, not letting [the Pats] whack away at it. It was a good team effort.”
Special teams contributed to the cause for the Ice Friday night. While Kootenay went 1-for-3 on the man advantage courtesy of Murray’s second-period marker, the Ice penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3 on the evening.
Both teams traded chances in the first period, with the Pats getting two glorious opportunities to open the scoring late in the period. With Jaedon Descheneau in the box for high-sticking, Sam Steel fed a slick pass through the slot that Pats leading scorer Braden Christoffer couldn’t bang home. The puck careened off the end boards to Pavel Padakin, who was all alone on the other side of Hoflin, but the biscuit rolled as the slick Ukrainian missed short side to leave the game scoreless after 20 minutes of play.
While Hoflin stood on his head, Pats goaltender Daniel Wapple was almost the equal at the opposite end of the rink. Despite only facing 16 shots, the 19-year-old puck-stopper made a number of big stops, including stoning Zak Zborosky in tight in the first period.
The Pats outshot the Ice 34-16.
Ice forward Jaedon Descheneau suited up for his 200th-career WHL game Friday night but was blanked on the scoresheet, leaving him two points shy of 200 in his WHL career.
The much anticipated return of Tim Bozon was put on hold, as the overage import was held out of the game due to a lower-body injury. Bozon’s status is considered day-to-day. Another high-profile NHL prospect missed Friday’s contest, as Regina was without Calgary Flames first-round pick Morgan Klimchuk. The Regina native has yet to suit up for the Pats this season after sustaining an upper-body injury while in training camp with the Flames.
The Ice weren’t only without Tim Bozon Friday as both Vince Loschiavo and Rinat Valiev also missed the game due to injury. For Loschiavo, it was the third contest he has missed since sustaining an upper-body injury in Regina Oct. 8. Valiev missed his ninth game with a lower-body injury.
If the injury situation wasn’t bad enough, the Ice also went without defencemen Bryan Allbee and Dylan Overdyk, as well as forward Jared Legien. The trio missed Friday’s game against Regina due to team-imposed suspensions after violating team rules at Mount Baker High School earlier this week. That left the Ice with a short bench as five defencemen and 11 forwards dressed.
The win boosted Kootenay’s overall record to 3-6-0-0. The Pats fall to 4-4-1-0 following tonight’s defeat.
The Ice will look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season when the Victoria Royals (5-6-1-0) visit Western Financial Place tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
“[We need to] stick to the game plan,” Hoflin said. “When we do stick to it, it works. It’s proven. We just have to stick to it. We need everyone to work hard and follow along. It’s going to take a team effort [to beat Victoria tomorrow night].”