Hoflin steps up with Skapski injured

Ice getting some emergency reinforcements down the road in Kimberley for the weekend.

Jeremy Mousseau of the Kimberley Dynamiters joined the Kootenay Ice for practice on Thursday afternoon in advance of Kootenay’s weekend home action against the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night and the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday.

With Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski injured, Wyatt Hoflin is getting the call to start for his team.

But if things get too heated, he will have a little dynamite on the bench to help him out.

With Skapski out and Hoflin in, Kootenay’s closest goaltending prospect—Jayden Sittler—is in Red Deer playing Midget AAA with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs.

But with an immediate need to back up Hoflin, Kootenay looked up the road to Kimberley for some help.

The Jr. B Dynamiters have generously lent  goaltenders Jeremy Mousseau and Tyson Brouwer to the team for the weekend, as Brouwer will join the Ice on Friday, and Mousseau on Saturday.

The Nitros have a pair of home games on the weekend, so Mousseau will play on Friday, and Brouwer on Saturday in the goaltending shuffle.

Hoflin will get the start for Kootenay in both games against the Red Deer Rebels and Spokane Chiefs this weekend, and the two Dynamiters goaltenders will serve as emergency backups until Sittler joins the team for next Monday’s tilt against the Hitmen in Calgary.

Skapski will be out for a week to 10 days with a lower body injury, according to Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth.

“This weekend, we are going to use both goaltenders from the Kimberley Dynamiters, Tyson Brouwer on Friday night, and then on Saturday, we’ll use Jeremy Mousseau,” said Chynoweth. “On Monday, our list player, who is playing with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs—Jayden Sittler—will join us through till the Nov. 20th game when we’re back in Red Deer.”

“Hopefully by that time, Skapski will be ready to go. All reports are, is that it’s lower body and a goaltender, you never know for sure, but it could be a week to 10 days.”

Chynoweth had tried to get Sittler in earlier, but it was tough to manoeuvre the schedules between his team and and the Chiefs’ in the AMHL. The Ice prospect has appeared in nine games with his Midget team, posting a 1.81 goals against average and a 0.930 save percentage.

“Thankfully, Jerry Bancks and the Kimberley Dynamiters were very cooperative and they have two big games this weekend, so they’re helping us out as well and we appreciate that very much,” continued Chynoweth.

Bancks is a former Ice assistant coach to Ryan McGill and Kris Knoblauch who took over the Dynamiters bench this season.

Skapski started for Kootenay against the Calgary Hitmen last Tuesday night, but went down awkwardly during the first period. He played out the rest of the frame, but Hoflin came off the bench to start the second period and backstopped the team  to a 3-1 win.

“I was a little nervous of course, and I was a bit worried for Skapper, you want to be healthy, but when I got in there, right off the bat, I felt good,” said Hoflin. “Unfortunately let in an early goal, but bounced back and then played really solid  game after that.”

Hoflin has appeared in six games so far this season, with a 2.79 goals against average and a 0.922 save percentage.

“Personally, I think that was one of our best games of the year,” continued Hoflin. “We competed, we battled, we matched and overcame their intensity, and I think that’s what generated chances for us, especially in the third period—and we capitalized.”

Kootenay goes up against the Rebels on Friday and the Chiefs on Saturday. The Rebels are a familiar foe, with three meetings so far this season. Kootenay dropped a pair of games to open the season in a home and home series, but earned a shootout win on the road just over a week ago in Red Deer.

Hoflin will likely be facing Patrik Bartosak against the Rebels, who is the reigning CHL goaltender of the year—a duel he is certainly looking forward to.

“It’s an opportunity. Anytime you’re playing against a goalie like that and you out battle him, people are going to notice,” said Hoflin, “and I think, especially for my teammates, if they notice that I competed against a goalie who did win that kind of award, I think that’s going to go a long way in the dressing room.”

Friday’s tilt against the Rebels is Kootenay Ice School Spirit Night, which will feature schools battling it out for bragging rights as the loudest crew in the building.

After the Rebels, the Ice are taking on another U.S. Division team in the Spokane Chiefs, which features the WHL’s leading scorer in Mitch Holmberg.

In just 19 games, Holmberg has tallied the same number of goals and collected 26 assists for a total of 45 points.

Spokane is in a logjam with two other teams, as they battle it out for second place honours behind the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Conference.


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