Better late than never.
That seemed to be the theme for a 5-1 win by the Kootenay Ice over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Saskatchewan on Wednesday night.
Tied up at 1-1, the Ice scored four third period goals in the last 10 minutes of the game on the road to victory.
Sam Reinhart and Tim Bozon both scored a pair of goals, while Jaedon Descheneau tallied a single marker to provide the offence for the Ice. Jesse Forsberg was the lone goal-scorer for the Warriors.
Kootenay outshot Moose Jaw in all three periods with a final tally of 42-23. Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski made 22 saves for the win, while Zach Sawchenko made 37 stops in defeat.
“The shot advantage was significant,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill, “but at the same time, we weren’t generating a lot of offence, because we were making plays and then we’d give the puck up, so we did a better job of that in the second half of the third period.”
Six minutes into the game, Reinhart put the Ice up on the board, cutting out of the corner and into the slot to roof a shot over Sawchenko’s glove.
The Warriors struck back in the second period, when Jesse Forsberg threw the puck on net from the point, scoring on a delayed penalty with six Moose Jaw attackers on the ice.
“They’re a hard working team and they didn’t waver from their work ethic,” said McGill. “They worked hard, I thought we didn’t manage the puck very well in the second half of the second period and the first half of the third period.
“Once we started to manage the puck better, we started to get opportunities and therefore, we scored some goals.”
The two teams kept it even going into the final period, until the floodgates opened, courtesy of Reinhart. Again.
Bozon scored 29 seconds later, slapping a shot past Sawchenko after a back and forth play with defenceman Tyler King.
Bozon followed up with a powerplay goal less than two minutes later, and Descheneau added his 39th goal of the season within the final 90 seconds of the game.
While the Ice picked up the win, they also did it with a short bench, dressing only 17 players. They survived a scare when Zach Franko was hit into the net in the second period and headed to the dressing room, but he was able to come back out for the final frame.
McGill said, without naming names, that he’s hoping to get at least one, and maybe two players off the injury list into Friday’s game.
According to the Ice injury update released on Monday, Landon Cross and Levi Cable are both day-to-day with lower body injuries. Kyle O’Connor is expected to be out a week with a lower body injury, while Jon Martin is dealing with an illness and and is still a week or two from returning to action. Ryan Chynoweth is also dealing with an upper body injury and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.
Despite dealing with the injury bug, McGill says that’s no excuse to take the foot off the gas.
“We just got to keep waiting for guys to get healthy and hopefully guys can stay healthy,” he said. “Nothing we can do about this situation right now, so we just got to play hard through it.”
The Ice are still in fifth place in the Central Division, five points behind the Medicine Hat Tigers in fourth place. The Tigers aren’t making life easy for the Ice, beating the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday to keep their five-point cushion.
NOTES: Hitting the scoresheet for two goals and an assist, Reinhart has tied a franchise record with a 21-game point streak, previously set by Mike Comrie in 2000. With the apple, he also extended his franchise setting assist-streak to 14 games.