The Everett Silvertips buried the Kootenay Ice Saturday afternoon.
In Kootenay’s final pre-season game in Kennewick, Wa., the Silvertips jumped out to a 4-0 lead through 20 minutes of play and never looked back, dismantling the Ice by a final score of 8-2.
The loss was the third in less than three days for the Ice, following defeats at the hands of the Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
“The biggest thing we want to make sure we’re doing this week in practice, from [what we saw on] the weekend, is being competitive in one-on-one situations,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill over the phone following the Saturday’s loss. “I think we have a little bit of a ways to go in that with some of our guys.
“We need to teach them that to play in this league you have to be ultra-competitive when you’re battling for loose pucks and trying to get position on people.”
Kohl Bauml tallied the third marker for the Silvertips in the first period. It would stand as the game-winning goal as Everett cruised to victory.
Rookie forward Austin Wellsby broke the goose-egg for the Ice midway through the second period, but two consecutive responses from the Silvertips killed any thoughts of a comeback for Kootenay.
Zak Zborosky added Kootenay’s second score of the day with only 11 seconds remaining in the second period but forwards Brayden Low and Graham Millar tacked on third period goals, adding to Everett’s avalanche of offence, effectively burying the Ice.
The Ice fell behind in similar fashion Friday afternoon against the Portland Winterhawks, trailing 4-1 before staging a late-game comeback that ultimately came up just short. The Winterhawks got away with a 5-3 victory after Oliver Bjorkstrand added a late empty-net goal.
Jayden Sittler faced the flurry between the pipes from start to finish Saturday afternoon, allowing eight goals on 31 shots for Kootenay. At the other end of the rink, Austin Lotz and Mario Petit split crease time with Lotz turning aside all 11 shots he faced. Petit surrendered two goals on the six shots directed his way.
According to McGill, Sittler fell victim to a bad bounce on the first goal, a result of a quick change of puck possession.
“You’ve got to be ready when the puck is in the zone at all times, whether you have possession or not,” McGill said. “It was a flukey goal.
“As a goaltender, you’ve got to have real thick skin. You’ve got to move on quickly and refocus so you’re not putting yourself in position to lose your confidence.”
McGill’s plan prior to the start of the weekend was to play each of his three netminders for one full game each, which is exactly the plan he stuck to. Unfortunately for Sittler, that made Saturday a long day.
It should be noted, the Ice scratched a variety of veterans Saturday afternoon. Up front, Matt Alfaro, Levi Cable, Jaedon Descheneau and Luke Philp all sat, as did defencemen Tanner Faith and Dylan Overdyk. Goaltender Wyatt Hoflin had the afternoon off as well.
The Ice are back on the bus and headed home for Cranbrook this afternoon. From there, the team will practice this week at Western Financial Place in preparation for two final exhibition games in the Crowsnest Pass next weekend.
Friday, Sept. 12, the Ice head to Blairmore, Alta. where they will face the Lethbridge Hurricanes at 7 p.m. The team closes out the 2014 WHL pre-season Sunday, Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. in Blairmore against the Calgary Hitmen.