After righting the ship from a listless start, the Kootenay Ice gave up three goals in the final period to lose a 4-1 decision to the Calgary Hitmen at the Saddledome on Monday night.
Hitmen rookie Cal Babych and veteran Greg Chase led the way with a goal and an assist, while Calgary offence also came from Brady Brassart and Pavel Padakin. Kootenay’s lone goal came from Jaedon Descheneau, who scored his team-leading 26th marker of the season.
Mackenzie Skapski was hung out to dry, turning away 40 shots while his team put 28 pucks on Hitmen netminder Mack Shields.
“He [Skapski] played well, way too many shots,” said Ice assistant coach Jay Henderson. “He kept us in the game and gave us a chance in those first two periods to come out with some points and eventually, it caught up to us.”
Descheneau’s goal was on the powerplay, which was Kootenay’s lone goal in four chances with the man-advantage. Calgary scored twice in five opportunities on the powerplay.
Brassart opened the scoring in the first period, snapping home a one-timer for Calgary’s first powerplay goal, as the Hitmen dominated for most of the frame.
Jaedon Descheneau tied it up in the the second period, wiring a one-timer from Luke Philp on a Kootenay powerplay as the Ice turned the tables and held the edge for long stretches of play.
However, the wheels fell off in the final 20 minutes.
“In the second period, I though we played extremely well, 1-1 going into the third,” said Henderson. “Then we got badly outplayed, badly outshot in the third period and we got what we deserved.”
Chase scored three minutes into the period on a wrap-around after Skaspki lost his balance in the crease.
Padakin made it a two-lead on the Hitmen’s second powerplay goal five minutes later. Babych, the son of former NHLer Dave Babych, added his first career WHL goal to make it 4-1 with 4:43 remaining in the game.
The loss drops the Ice down to eight place in the Eastern Conference, however, it’s a log jam with two points separating fifth from eighth.
Kootenay returns home for a few days before heading up to Medicine Hat on Thursday and hosting the Swift Current Broncos on Friday at Western Financial Place.