With a five-goal outburst in the second period, the Kootenay Ice cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers Wednesday night at Western Financial Place.
The win snapped a three-game losing skid for the Ice, moving the team into the first wild-card seed in the WHL’s Eastern Conference.
“We just did the little things right by moving the puck and shooting the puck when we had chances,” said Ice forward Jaedon Descheneau following the win.
“That’s all we did tonight — was get pucks to the net. It created rebounds for us and other opportunities.”
The heaviest damage came over a span of 1:39 in the second period as Rinat Valiev, Vince Loschiavo and Tim Bozon scored in quick succession to spur the hosts to a 4-1 lead.
Loschiavo’s goal was of the rebound variety while Bozon’s game-winning marker came after the native of Valbonne, France, took a long stretch feed from Valiev before walking in alone and wiring a big-league snap shot over the shoulder of Tigers goaltender Marek Langhamer.
Ice captain Sam Reinhart put home his team’s fourth goal of the second period with a power-play marker before Descheneau cleaned up a rebound 45 seconds before the second intermission.
Descheneau finished the night with a goal and an assist. The Edmonton native’s first-period helper on Levi Cable’s game-opening goal was the 150th assist of his WHL career. It’s the second significant milestone the St. Louis Blues prospect has hit in the past week, as he recorded the 250th point of his WHL career Feb. 6 against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
“I didn’t know until now, actually, and I didn’t know I scored my 250th point until after that game either,” Descheneau said with a smile. “I don’t look at that stuff. The only time I know is when I look at my Twitter feed after [a game]. That’s about it.”
The two teams combined for six goals in the middle period as Tigers forward Cole Sanford made it a 1-1 game 2:54 into the period with a power-play tally of his own.
After surrendering six goals on 25 shots, Langhamer was relegated to the bench for the third period as Tigers backup goaltender Nick Schneider came on in relief.
With so much second-period scoring, it might have been easy to forget Cable’s game-opening goal, which came a lightning-quick 59 seconds into regulation.
Skating in his 250th-career WHL game, the native of Hudson Bay, Sask., marked the occasion with a rebound goal — his 24th of the campaign.
“It’s really good to have a win like this, a big win,” Cable said Wednesday night. “It’s always nice any game, but to get it in my 250th [game] is pretty nice as well.”
Cable finished the night with a goal and two assists.
The Tigers rounded out the scoring with a pair of third-period goals as Chad Butcher put home his 17th of the season and Markus Eisenschmid collected his 18th of the campaign.
Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin made 31 stops for his 27th victory of the campaign.
Though the Kootenay Ice deployed a full lineup on the ice Wednesday night, there was a noticeable figure missing from the team’s bench as head coach Ryan McGill missed the game due to illness.
In his place, assistant coach Jay Henderson took over the operations and was joined by “interim assistant coach” Tanner Faith, making his coaching debut, who recently rejoined the team after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery.
“I never expected [to be behind the bench] at all,” Faith said with a grin Wednesday night. “It was fun. It was a different perspective from sitting up in the press box or even playing.
“We moved the puck really well and we started getting a lot of shots on net — quality shots, pucks where we’ll actually get rebounds and we scored off a couple there.”
Faith, a 2014 fifth-round pick of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, skated in 19 games with the Ice this season before being sidelined with the shoulder injury. The native of Wilcox, Sask., hopes he can continue to support his teammates and fill a leadership role off the ice despite not being able to contribute on the ice as the team pursues an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Next up, the Kootenay Ice host the Moose Jaw Warriors Friday night at Western Financial Place.
Notes: The Kootenay Ice skated without D Bryan Allbee, D Dylan Overdyk, F Austin Wellsby and D Tanner Faith (shoulder) Wednesday night…The Medicine Hat Tigers dressed 17 skaters with D Tommy Vannelli (upper body), D Ty Stanton, D Kyle Becker (upper body), F Mason Shaw (lower body) and F Anthony Ast (upper body) out of the lineup…
Video highlights: Medicine Hat Tigers 3 at Kootenay Ice 6 (Feb. 11, 2015):