The Kootenay Ice grabbed a pair of crucial victories over the Calgary Hitmen this weekend, winning 6-2 on home ice Saturday night before edging the Hitmen 4-3 in Calgary Sunday afternoon.
Saturday night, Levi Cable answered the call and delivered in entertaining fashion, registering four goals to lead the Kootenay Ice to victory in front of a season-high crowd of 2,976 at Western Financial Place.
“I got a lot of shots today and the bounces were going my way, so I thought I’d just throw everything to the net,” Cable said after Saturday’s win. “A lot of things just happened to go in for me. It was nice.
“It was really good to come back [from the holiday break] and get the win here.”
The 20-year-old native of Hudson Bay, Sask., tallied twice in the first period before stealing an errant pass from Hitmen starting goaltender Mack Shields in the second period, completing the hat-trick by depositing the puck into the vacated cage.
“He brings a lot of speed,” Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin said of Cable Saturday night. “He pushes the defencemen back. Tonight, he was shooting really well and getting his own rebounds.
“It creates a lot of space when the d-men are backing off to respect his speed.”
Cable finished Saturday’s win with five points, adding a third-period power-play goal as well as an assist on the final marker of the night, an even-strength tally from Jaedon Descheneau with less than five minutes to go in regulation.
Hoflin, making his 24th consecutive start between the pipes for the Ice, had a stellar night of his own, steering aside a season-high 51 shots to earn his 19th win of the 2014-15 campaign.
“It’s nice for sure. Obviously we want to get two points while we’re missing some key players,” Hoflin said. “It will be that much easier to catch up in the points race when they get back.”
In turning aside 51 pucks Saturday night, Hoflin erased his previous season high of 48 saves, which came in a 3-0 shutout victory on the road over the Medicine Hat Tigers Nov. 22.
“You get more touches on the puck, the more confidence you have to make the save,” Hoflin said. “Tonight, [because of] rebounds, I gave up a little more shots than I wanted to. I think I could have brought that [shot total] down by at least 15 shots with some rebound control, but I felt good.”
Sunday afternoon at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, the Ice racked up its fifth-consecutive victory with a 4-3 win over the host Hitmen. The triumph pulled the Ice (20-17-0-0, 40 points) to within one point of the third-place Calgary Hitmen (19-14-1-2, 41) in the WHL’s Central Division standings.
Ice forward Luke Philp tallied the eventual game-winning goal with less than five minutes to play in the second period Sunday.
Cable continued his tear, grabbing his 16th goal of the season and adding another assist, bringing his weekend total against the Hitmen to five goals and two assists in two games.
Hoflin tied a Kootenay Ice franchise record for consecutive appearances by a goaltender as he made is 25th straight start between the pipes Sunday afternoon.
Todd Mathews set the record with 25 consecutive appearances in net from Jan. 21 to March 14, 2009.
Hoflin’s run began Oct. 24 in a 9-2 setback on home ice against those same Calgary Hitmen.
“It’s more about getting two points than the records or anything like that,” Hoflin said Saturday night.
“Getting a break right in the middle [over Christmas] was nice. Obviously I’m coming back fresh. Every time they call my name to start, I’m going to try to be as good as I can for the team and help us get two points.”
The native of Spruce Grove, Alta., turned aside 34 of 37 shots in Sunday’s win, good enough for a first-star performance.
Next up, the Ice head to Medicine Hat for a Tuesday-night date with the Tigers (25-9-1-1, 52). Medicine Hat is coming off an 8-4 drubbing of the Lethbridge Hurricanes (9-21-3-2, 23) Sunday afternoon.
Notes: The Kootenay Ice went without D Dylan Overdyk (concussion), F Sam Reinhart (World Juniors), D Rinat Valiev (World Juniors) and D Tanner Faith (upper body) this weekend… With three defencemen unavailable and only four others on the roster, Ice affiliate defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky (1995) made his Kootenay Ice debut Saturday night. Lishchynsky began the season with the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, registering 18 points in 29 games. The 19-year-old Saskatoon native had 78 games of WHL experience under his belt prior to Saturday (Prince George Cougars, 2012-14)…