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Beasts from the East

Rookie defenceman Cale Fleury scored the first WHL goal of his career as the Ice dropped games to the Saskatoon Blades & Red Deer Rebels
Scoring the first WHL goal of his career

Taylor Rocca

Kootenay Ice defenceman Cale Fleury hit two birds with one stone when he scored during the third period of play against the Red Deer Rebels Friday night at Western Financial Place.

The marker was the first of the 16-year-old blue-liner's WHL career and he silenced his older brother, Rebels defenceman Haydn Fleury, in the process.

"Right before [he scored], I asked him what he was doing on the ice if they needed a goal," Haydn said with a laugh Friday. "I guess I kind of ate that one, but it was good to see."

With less than five minutes to play and the Ice trailing the Rebels 3-0, the younger Fleury stepped onto the ice with his team in search of some late life.

Luke Philp delivered a pass and rookie Cale Fleury slid one past Rebels goaltender Taz Burman to get his team on the scoreboard and claim his first-career WHL goal.

"[Haydn] was chirping me a little bit during the face-off," Cale said Friday. "It definitely felt pretty good to score right after that."

Cale Fleury was the only Kootenay Ice to beat Burman Friday night, as the Rebels scraped out a 3-1 victory over their Central Division rivals from Cranbrook.

For the Rebels, Friday's win served as a bit of retribution after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Ice last week at the Enmax Centrium.

"They took two points off us in our building, so we had to come back and do the same thing," Haydn said. "They had Sam [Reinhart] back tonight, so that was another guy we had to focus on. We had to focus on their key guys and we did that tonight."

Starting his 29th consecutive game between the pipes, Hoflin made 19 stops in a losing effort. At the other end of the rink, Burman stopped 30 pucks for the win.

Recently acquired forward Connor Gay debuted with his new team, assisting on Kopeck's marker for his point as a Red Deer Rebel. On the other side of the puck, it was Ice defenceman Lenny Hackman making his first appearance with his new team.

The Rebels finished the weekend by disposing of the Eastern Conference's top team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, by a final tally of 6-1 Saturday night.

"We've got to keep taking it day by day, focusing on getting better each day and developing more as a team," Haydn said. "This time of the year when it comes down to crunch time, every game is huge. We can't look too far ahead."

Following Friday's setback to the Rebels, the Kootenay Ice were looking for redemption Saturday night against the Saskatoon Blades, the lowest-ranked team in the WHL.

Led by rookie goaltender Brock Hamm, starting his first-career WHL game, the Blades sliced their way past the Ice 6-4.

"That team showed up ready to work," Ice forward Luke Philp said of the Blades Saturday. "They played fast. They played hard. The bottom line is they deserved that one. We didn't."

The Blades, last in the league with 21 points heading into Saturday night, utilized a three-goal second period to build a 4-3 advantage over the hosts, before adding two more goals in the third period to make it 6-3.

Philp made the game interesting, scoring his 18th of the season with 3:33 to play in the regulation, but 6-4 was where it all finished when the final buzzer sounded.

Philp concluded the night with a goal and two assists.

Hamm turned aside 28 shots to earn his first-career WHL victory. The native of Saskatoon was called up to the Blades Jan. 5 after starting the season with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, going 9-10-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average and 0.918 save percentage.

Ice forward Levi Cable continued to collect the goals, registering his 18th and 19th of the season. The native of Hudson Bay, Sask., now sits second on the team in goal-scoring this season, trailing Jaedon Descheneau who leads the way with 21 goals.

"We've got to come ready to play, no matter who [our opponent] is," Cable said Saturday night. "We've got to come out strong and we've got to play the whole game strong. It doesn't matter who the opponent is."

With 19 goals and 31 points through 39 games this season, Cable has already established a new career high in goals and is inching closer to the career mark he set with 34 points in 67 games during the 2012-13 campaign.

"I've had good linemates all year," Cable said. "They've been helping me out. A lot of my goals have been pretty lucky -- good bounces for me. Things have been going my way. It's been good this year."

Cameron Hebig scored what stood as the game-winning goal less than four minutes into the final period and Sam McKechnie added the extra insurance tally for the Blades.

Kootenay Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin had the night off as Keelan Williams started between the pipes for the first time since since Oct. 22. Williams hadn't played since Dec. 7 when he came on in relief of Hoflin as the Ice fell 5-4 to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash.

For Hoflin, the night off brought an end to his consecutive-appearances streak, which ran a franchise-record 29 games from Oct. 24, 2014 to Jan. 9, 2015.

Williams faced 41 shots from the Blades, stopping 35.

The Ice have now lost three consecutive games. Next up, they travel to Moose Jaw to face the Warriors Wednesday night.

Notes: The Kootenay Ice scratches F Austin Wellsby (healthy), D Rinat Valiev (ill) and D Tanner Faith (shoulder) for both games this weekend, while D Bryan Allbee (healthy) sat out Friday before subbing in for D Dylan Overdyk (healthy) Saturday...

Highlights: Red Deer Rebels 3 at Kootenay Ice 1 (Jan. 9, 2015)