Kootenay Ice forward Austin Vetterl tries to work past Calgary Hitmen defenceman Colby Harmsworth Sunday afternoon in the Crowsnest Pass. The Hitmen knocked off the Ice 4-1 in WHL pre-season action.

Kootenay Ice forward Austin Vetterl tries to work past Calgary Hitmen defenceman Colby Harmsworth Sunday afternoon in the Crowsnest Pass. The Hitmen knocked off the Ice 4-1 in WHL pre-season action.

Quick-strike Hitmen trounce Ice

The Calgary Hitmen used a three-goal, first-period outburst to defeat the Kootenay Ice in WHL pre-season action Sunday afternoon

Taylor Rocca

The Kootenay Ice closed out the 2014 WHL pre-season Sunday afternoon, falling 4-1 to the Calgary Hitmen in Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

The Hitmen used a three-goal outburst over a three-minute span early in the first period to seal the fate of the Ice, taking advantage of a shaky Wyatt Hoflin.

“I’m sure Wyatt would like to have two, maybe three out of the four [goals] back, for sure,” said Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill Sunday afternoon. “I thought we had some okay looks in their zone, but we need to be way more competitive on loose pucks.

“If we’re way more competitive in one-on-one situations, if you exclude some of those goals against that were quickly off the bat, I think we’re right there.”

Compete level has been a common concern for McGill as his squad navigated through pre-season play. After suffering three consecutive losses in Kennewick, Wa. last weekend, the coach wanted to see more hunger from his boys through practice this past week. According to assistant coach Jay Henderson, the coaching staff was happy with what they saw heading into this weekend’s pre-season wrap in the Crowsnest Pass.

“It’s a learning curve, it’s a process,” McGill said his team’s compete level. “We’ve got guys coming back from pro camp and they understand what’s expected from them.

“We’ll evaluate the five [pre-season] games and who we think is the best group of 18 skaters will play on Friday night [against the Red Deer Rebels]. We’re going to have some extra bodies around and that hopefully brings out the competitiveness of the group.”

Calgary defenceman Jake Bean started the barrage 4:17 into the opening frame. On the very next shift, forward Landon Welykhowa piled on 33 seconds later, knocking a rebound past Hoflin for a 2-0 Hitmen advantage.

To make matters worse, Ice defenceman Dylan Overdyk was sent off for hooking less than two minutes after Welykhowa’s marker. It didn’t take long for the Hitmen to cash in. Veteran forward Mike Winther delivered one final crushing blow, skating in all alone and depositing the puck past a helpless Hoflin.

The Ice appeared to recover a bit of momentum after forward Austin Wellsby jammed home a rebound on the man advantage while Hitmen forward Pavel Karnaukhov sat for tripping. The goal was Wellsby’s second of the pre-season.

Just as quickly as Kootenay jumped on the board, Calgary restored the three-goal gap. Karnaukhov made up for his earlier blunder by tallying his fourth goal of the pre-season to give the Hitmen a 4-1 lead a little more than two minutes after Wellsby’s marker.

Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin didn’t look comfortable through the first 20 minutes, but eventually settled in. The native of Spruce Grove, Alta. turned aside 12 of 16 shots Sunday afternoon.

At the other end of the rink, 18-year-old Evan Johnson went the distance between the pipes for Calgary. The Winnipeg native was nearly perfect, stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced. It was Johnson’s fourth appearance of the post-season. With a 1.67 goals-against average and three wins to his credit, it would appear Johnson has secured himself a spot between the pipes in Calgary.

Though he didn’t find a way on to the scoresheet, Moscow native Alexander Chirva was a noticeable presence on the ice Sunday for Kootenay. The 18-year-old forward finished checks, danced with the puck and drove the net hard.

“He’s getting there,” McGill said of the 33rd overall selection from the 2014 CHL Import Draft. “I think he can shoot the puck more. Today was a really good sign of him getting involved and now we just need to get him inside the dots in the offensive zone.

“He’s improved all through camp.”

After playing two games in three days, the Ice will take Monday off before returning to the rink in preparation for the opening of the WHL regular season.

The Ice close out the 2014 WHL pre-season having collected a record of 1-4-0, the only victory coming Friday night over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Forward Luke Philp, who is in London, Ont. at Toronto Maple Leafs rookie camp, led the team in scoring, firing home four goals and five points in two games.

With eight players currently attending NHL training camps and 22 bodies on the active roster, the Ice are not expected to make any immediate personnel changes. According to McGill, the team’s hockey operations staff will meet as players are re-assigned to Cranbrook from their respective NHL camps. As that happens, decisions will be made as to who stays and who heads elsewhere.

The Kootenay Ice open the 2014 WHL regular season Friday, Sept. 19 when they visit the Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centrium. The team will then travel to Edmonton to face the Oil Kings Sept. 20. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

A case of Covid-19 was identified at Cranbrook Montessori Pre-School last week.
Covid identified at Cranbrook Montessori

A case of Covid-19 was identified at Cranbrook Montessori Pre-School last week.… Continue reading

The 2020 Wasa Triathlon was cancelled. Above, the bike portion of the 2019 event. Bulletin file
Gerick Sports Wasa Triathlon committee is going ahead with planning 2021 event

Lots of uncertainty, but the committee has decided its too early to cancel

Bootleg Gap Golf Course has been sold to Simkins Golf Management Inc. for $3 million.
Bootleg Gap Golf Course sold to Simkins Golf Management for $3 million

After the decision was made to sell back in October 2019, Council… Continue reading

Dorothy Kilgallen, circa 1952 (irishamerica.com)
Booknotes: Fearless reporter among the greatest of all time

Mike Selby “Success has not changed Frank Sinatra,” wrote journalist Dorothy Kilgallen… Continue reading

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Most Read