Ice, Chiefs split weekend series

Both teams lose in home barns, as Kootenay falls 6-4 in Cranbrook, but wins 2-1 in Spokane.

Kootenay Ice forward Ryan Chynoweth drives the puck to the net while Eric Williams makes a save during WHL action at Western Financial Place on Friday night.

Kootenay Ice forward Ryan Chynoweth drives the puck to the net while Eric Williams makes a save during WHL action at Western Financial Place on Friday night.

Kootenay traded favours with the Spokane on the weekend, falling 6-4 at home on Friday, before edging out a 2-1 win on the road in a rematch the following night.

The Ice are tied up with the Wheat Kings at 41 points and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Kootenay got some bodies back in the roster as Jagger Dirk, Ryan Chynoweth and Rinat Valiev returned from injuries, while Tanner Faith is still out indefinitely with an upper body injury.

Jaedon Descheneau led the way with a pair of goals on Friday, but Spokane was able to outscore the Ice later in the game to earn the win. The Ice also got goals from Zach McPhee and Tim Bozon, while Jackson Playfair and Riley Whittingham both scored twice for Spokane, with Mike Aviani and Blair Oneschuk also lighting the lamp.

Mackenzie Skapski was pulled after two periods, making 26 saves while Wyatt Hoflin finished the game with six stops in the final frame. Kootenay managed to beat Chiefs netminder Eric Williams four times in 24 shots.

Spokane proved how dangerous they could be with quick goals at the start and end of the second period, both from Playfair.

“It’s never a good thing, that’s for sure,” said Descheneau. “but we got to adjust and make sure we don’t let those opportunities happen. I think five of their six goals, they didn’t earn them. It felt like we just had too many errors and we have to eliminate that.”

The two teams traded goals in the first period, Aviani first for Spokane on the power play before Descheneau responded by weaving through a few players in the offensive zone and beating Williams with a low shot.

Just 21 seconds into the second period, Playfair got his first of the game by picking the pocket of an Ice D-man and beating Skapski through the five-hole.

Five minutes later, Oneschuk went between the wickets on a shorthanded breakaway for a two-goal lead for the Chiefs.

Whittingham scooped up a rebound for a 4-1 lead at the later in the frame before the Ice engineered bit of a comeback.

Descheneau one-timed a cross-ice feed at the side of the net and Zach McPhee scored on a shot on net that pin-balled off a few skates to make it 4-3.

However, with two seconds on the clock, Playfair buried another rebound to restore a two-goal lead with the final 20 minutes to go.

Hoflin came into the net to close out the game, but Whittingham scored a flukey goal from the blue line, sneaking a shot under the armpit of the Kootenay Ice goaltender on a dump in.

Kootenay got on the board towards the end of the game when a shot from Jordan Steenbergen at the blue line redirected off Bozon to cap off the scoring.

“We were just inconsistent,” said Descheneau. “We had our chances, our times during the game, played well, played hard and were on the body. You see in the second period we scored two goals within five minutes, we had puck possession and when they had the puck, we took the man to them and created opportunities and we just weren’t consistently doing that.”

Despite the setback at home, the Ice were able to get it done the following night in Spokane, riding their two-goal lead from Levi Cable and McPhee after the first period to the win.

Cable scored 11 minutes in, and McPhee added a powerplay goal a few minutes later for a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Dominic Zwerger added a goal halfway through the middle frame to cut into the Kootenay lead, but that would be it for scoring as Skapski shut the door with 36 saves on the night.

Both games also featured the two 1997-born prospects in defenceman Dylan Overdyk and forward Austin Wellsby, who are on assignment with their WHL parent squad to cover injuries and the absence of Sam Reinhart and Troy Murray, who are both at international tournaments.

Kootenay has a day trip to Calgary for a rare Monday night contest before heading to Medicine Hat for a Thursday evening tilt with the Tigers.