Ice crushed in Alberta road trip

Top teams in the Eastern Conference dispatch Kootenay during trip through Alberta.

It was a tough weekend for the Ice as they toured through Alberta and lost to two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

After defeating the Oil Kings in a shootout last week, the Ice went up to Edmonton for a rematch and lost 2-0 on Friday, which was followed up by a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday.

Calgary’s win ties the club with Edmonton for second place honours in the Eastern Conference, while the Ice sit at the bottom, six points behind the nearest opponent.

The Oil Kings outshot the Ice in all three periods during their march to a shutout victory on Friday evening at Rexall Place.

Mackenzie Skapski manned the crease for Kootenay, making 42 saves, while Tristan Jarry stood in goal across the rink, turning away 20 shots for Edmonton.

T.J. Foster took an early lead for the Oil Kings, when he took a pass from teammate Michael St. Croix, who recollected the puck after a failed wrap around attempt.

Henrik Samuelsson doubled the lead in the second period, when the Phoenix Coyotes draft pick slipped a backhand along the ice through Skapski’s five-hole on a breakaway.

The two teams held each other scoreless after that, and special teams was kept to a minimum, with no penalties for either side in the final frame.

Kootenay failed to convert on three powerplay opportunities, while Edmonton didn’t get a chance with the man advantage.

Both teams are even in the season series now, as Kootenay and Edmonton each have two wins against each other in four games.

The Ice headed to Calgary following Friday’s game for a matinee matchup against the Hitmen on Sunday afternoon, dropping  4-1 decision to their hosts.

Calgary had a 2-1 lead going into the final period, but a pair of power play goals from Greg Chase sealed the the Ice’s fate and stalled a comeback.

Ukranian import Pavlo Padakin opened the scoring with six minutes remaining in the opening period, which triggered a torrential rain of stuffed animals out onto the ice for Teddy Bear Toss Night.

The two teams agreed to hold an intermission while the Hitmen staff cleared the surface of teddies and zambonied the ice. Afterwards, they came out and finished the first period on clean ice and had a quick two-minute break before starting up the second frame.

Calgary doubled the lead on an effort from Alex Roach, who picked up a rebound off a breakaway from teammate Brooks Macek.

However, the Ice responded late in the period on a power play, when Brock Montgomery collected a rebound from Sam Reinhart for his 12th goal of the season. Montgomery got in his first game after missing the last five with an upper body injury.

The Hitmen pulled ahead in the final period, as Greg Chase scored a pair of power play markers to seal up the win.

The third period also featured a spirited exchange of fists between former Ice teammates Jagger Dirk and Brendan Hurley, that followed a second period tilt between Mike Simpson and Jaynen Rissling.

Montgomery’s goal was the only reward the team got on eight power play opportunities, while the Hitmen drew blood twice in three chances.

Skapski made 25 saves while Chris Driedger made 18 saves in net for Calgary.

The Hitmen will follow the Ice back to Cranbrook for a game on Tuesday night at Western Financial Place.

ICE NOTES: The Ice recently raised $2,200 for the East Kootenay Foundation for Health by auctioning off game sticks used in the warm up and first period during the affair against the Edmonton Oil Kings last Wednesday at Western Financial Place. Rookie Collin Shirley had the highest bid on his stick, which went for $300.