Pair by Baer leads to 4-3 Kootenay Ice victory in Edmonton

Pair by Baer leads to 4-3 Kootenay Ice victory in Edmonton

New top line, forward Alec Baer instrumental in close win over division rivals on the road

He’s definitely not your average Baer.

Playing on a new Kootenay Ice first line combination, which brought rookie Peyton Krebs into the fold alongside himself and Colton Kroeker, Alec Baer had a big night in Edmonton.

The 20-year-old forward had two goals and an assist against the Oil Kings on Friday, including the game-winner.

Replacing Keenan Taphorn with Krebs, the Ice’s top line had all three of their top scorers working together and they had a field day against the worst team in the WHL’s standings.

By the end of the night, Kroeker held onto his team point lead with 22 in 22 games, while Baer improved to 21 points in 25 games, and Krebs went up to 20 points in 20 games.

Despite the dynamic production of Kootenay’s big three, however, it was a close battle with their Central Division rivals.

The Ice kicked off the night poorly, with an interference call being handed to Ryan Pouliot just seven seconds into the game. After the false start though, they quickly took it to their opponents with solid defence and transition attack.

The opening goal was scored at the six-minute mark as defenceman Martin Bodak appeared to wire home his first career WHL goal.

Putting a lot of mustard on a point slap shot, the marker beat a screened-Travis Child, but credit for the tally was later changed to forward Kaeden Taphorn.

Continuing to pressure the Oil Kings a few minutes later, Kroeker connected with Baer near the half boards who found Krebs alone in front of the net.

The 16-year-old made no mistake in finding the half-empty cage and ended up sending his team into the first intermission with a 2-0 lead.

Tides began to shift in the second period and the Oil Kings showed resilience in the face of a rough opening frame. Just over three and a half minutes in, Edmonton defenceman Matthew Robertson finished off a nice passing play by sniping the puck over Bailey Brkin.

Despite some close chances for the Ice’s top line throughout the shaky second, Liam Keeler tied the game for the home side at the end of the period as he skated right down the middle lane and beat Brkin with another high wrister.

Recomposed after another break, the Baer show started in earnest in the final 20 minutes of the night.

At the midway point, Baer gave Kootenay a lead with a shot from the low faceoff dot that found its way past three Oil Kings players and over Child’s glove. Six minutes later he banged home an in tight chance that went off an Edmonton leg and in.

Although, with their goalie pulled, Davis Koch got his team back to within one, Baer’s second goal ended up being the winner.

According to Baer, the team’s resilience to hold onto the lead is a good sign moving forward.

“We talked a lot about not taking a period off and we kind of did that in the second period and [Edmonton] got their momentum back,” he said. “I think we came out and played a pretty good third period [though].”

With the win, the Ice now have an 11-13-1-0 record and remain in second place in their division. On Saturday night, the team host the Lethbridge Hurricanes in their first meeting of the year.

After 22 games, the ‘Canes have a record of 9-12-1-0 and have so far not met their lofty expectations. The team is, however, riding a two-game winning streak which included a recent 10-4 victory over the Victoria Royals on Tuesday.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Western Financial Place.

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