The Kootenay Ice surrendered five goals in the first period in a 5-1 loss to the Red Deer Rebels in their final game of a prairie road trip before taking some time off for the Christmas break.
Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin started in net, but was replaced by Mackenzie Skapski after the opening period. Hoflin faced 16 shots and allowed five goals, while Skapski turned away 14 shots over 40 minutes.
Erik Benoit scored his fourth goal of the season and Kootenay’s lone marker in the second period.
Ice prospect Jordan Steenbergen, who is playing in the Alberta Midget Hockey League with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs, made his debut in front of a home crowd.
It was a disastrous first period for the Ice as the Rebels took complete control and scored five times in 20 minutes.
Rhyse Deino drew first blood on a backdoor feed from Turner Elson four minutes into the game.
Christian Stockl doubled the lead a few minutes later, coming off the sideboards and beating Hoflin.
Wyatt Johnson took advantage of a turnover in front of the net after the halfway mark.
An Ice defenceman misplayed the puck at the offensive zone blueline a minute later, which created an odd-man rush and Kevin Pochuk scored the period’s fourth goal.
With five minutes to go in the opening frame, Elson—who signed a free-agent contract with the Calgary Flames last year— got a goal after coming off the sideboards and beating Hoflin to make it 5-0.
Vetterl nearly scored Kootenay’s first goal in the middle frame on an odd-man rush, with Philp on the doorstep, but Rebels goaltender Bolton Pouliot made the save.
However, Erik Benoit drew blood near the end of the period when he one-timed the puck after taking a feed from Jadeon Descheneau in the corner.
The two teams held each other scoreless in the final 20 minutes.
Kootenay ended their road trip with a win in Prince Albert, before suffering consecutive losses to the Saskatoon Blades, Swift Current Broncos and Red Deer Rebels.
The Ice dwell at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and are nine points away from their closest opponents in the Regina Pats.
Kootenay will take a break for the next eight days off as players return to their hometowns for Christmas break. Everyone will return on Dec. 27 for a practice before hosting the Spokane Chiefs for a home and home series on that weekend.