The Kootenay Ice hit a wall Tuesday night at Western Financial Place.
That wall was named Marek Langhamer.
“Coming off four [games] in five days, we were all a little tired,” said Kootenay Ice forward Levi Cable Tuesday night. “The first two periods were pretty good for us. We came out tied in the second, but we had a few breakdowns in the third that cost us.
“We tried to get a lot of shots on [Langhamer], keep him making those saves. Eventually one of them is going to slip through. That’s what happened on [my goal]. Just a shot and finally one of them went in.”
Cable was the only member of the Ice to best Langhamer, as the 20-year-old native of Moravska Trebova, Czech Republic, turned in a 26-save performance to backstop the Tigers to victory Tuesday.
Cable’s marker came with 17.5 seconds remaining in the second period. The native of Hudson Bay, Sask., took a long lead pass from forward Luke Philp, and moved in on Langhamer with a partial break. As Cable ran out of space, he unleashed a quick wrist shot that evaded Langhamer low on the short side, tying the game 1-1 heading into the second intermission.
Langhamer, an Arizona Coyotes’ prospect (seventh round, 184th overall – 2012), didn’t face as many shots as his counterpart Wyatt Hoflin, but he made a handful of show-stopping saves, both in the second period as Medicine Hat protected a one-goal advantage and then early in the third period with the game even at one apiece.
Despite being victimized three times on 37 shots, Hoflin was steady in the crease for the Ice, giving his team a chance to win up until a couple defensive breakdowns midway through the third period.
Tuesday night marked the 20th consecutive start for the native of Sherwood Park, Alta. With his 34-save effort, Hoflin rolled into first in the WHL in saves to date with 831 — 16 more than Swift Current Broncos puck-stopper Landon Bow, who sits second.
“It’s a lot easier to get into the flow of the game,” Hoflin said regarding his run of consecutive starts. “It’s kind of like you’re just going from one game to the next. It makes it a lot easier at the same time, but for now, I’m just trying to get better and better. I’m playing okay, but it’s just trying to bring that consistency for every game.”
Hoflin also surpassed Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Jordan Papirny for the minutes-played lead this WHL season. With appearances in 30 of his team’s 32 games, Hoflin has seen 1,684 minutes in the blue paint. Papirny follows with 1,633 minutes played.
“We’re keeping the shot [count] a lot lower than it used to be,” Hoflin said. “It makes my job a lot easier. It [comes down to] limiting scoring chances, having better awareness in our [defensive] zone to limit those backdoor opportunities. But I feel good.”
Tigers captain Tyler Lewington opened the scoring with a power-play marker in the second period. The 20-year-old defenceman took a backdoor feed before depositing the puck past a helpless Hoflin.
After Cable’s goal ended the second period, it was a 10-second span midway through the third period that spelled the end for the Ice.
Chad Labelle deposited the eventual game-winning goal after the puck bounced his way on top of the Kootenay crease 8:21 into the final period. On the ensuing faceoff, Trevor Cox sent a long lead pass onto the stick of Steven Owre. In two-on-one with Cole Sanford, Owre slid the puck to his linemate, who put it through a sprawled Hoflin. The 10-second quick hits made it 3-1 Medicine Hat.
With Hoflin on the bench for the extra attacker, Cox rounded out the scoring with an empty-net tally late in regulation.
Ice captain Sam Reinhart saw his 14-game point streak come to an end. The 19-year-old native of North Vancouver was minus-2 Tuesday in his final game before departing for Toronto and Team Canada Selection Camp ahead of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“You can’t really replace a guy like that,” Hoflin said of Reinhart. “Everyone’s got to work that much harder. The goaltending has to be that much better. [Reinhart] controls the puck for most of the game when he’s got it. “
The Ice (15-17-0-0) are back in action Friday night when the Prince Albert Raiders (15-16-0-0) visit Western Financial Place.
Notes: The Kootenay Ice were without defencemen Tanner Faith (upper body, week to week) and Dylan Overdyk (concussion, indefinite) Tuesday night…The win was the 200th for Shaun Clouston as head coach of the Tigers, moving him into third place in franchise history…Attendance at Western Financial Place was 2,016 Tuesday night…