Ice have tough schedule to close out season

Kootenay taking on the cream of the Eastern Conference crop before hitting the post-season.

There is one week left of the WHL regular season.

Kootenay will be closing it off with a quick midweek two-game road trip to Edmonton (Tuesday) and Red Deer (Wednesday) before capping it off with a home and home series with the Calgary Hitmen.

They officially clinched their 16th straight playoff spot on Friday night during a 5-2 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers, as the franchise currently has the longest active postseason streak in the WHL.

“It’s amazing,” said Ice defenceman Jagger Dirk. “I came in here when it was just at 11 and to go into 16—to pass the torch on for the next guys—it means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to Jeff [Chynoweth] and the organization upstairs.”

Kootenay got a boost in the forward ranks on the weekend with the addition of Jon Martin and Kyle O’Connor, who had been out to illness and injury, respectively.

“Definitely nice to have those two guys back up front,” said fellow forward Zach McPhee. “It added some more depth for sure, and coming in from the road after what happened with Tim [Bozon], being able to come back to get four points at home is pretty good.”

However, this is no time to coast into the playoffs.

The Ice, in fifth place (82 points), are desperately trying to catch the Tigers, who occupy fourth (88 points). In turn, the Swift Current Broncos, in sixth (79 points), are trying to improve their playoff seeding and could potentially leapfrog the Kootenay club.

Here’s the situation.

With four games left, the Ice play three games against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference—Edmonton (Tuesday) and the series with Calgary.

Medicine Hat plays Edmonton on Wednesday, then wraps it up with a home and home series with the cellar-dwelling Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Swift Current plays the Saskatoon Blades and closes with a home and home series with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Both opponents for the Broncos are not in the playoff picture.

Needless to say, at first glance, the Ice have the toughest schedule.

Edmonton was last here in January for a pair of games, playing the Ice twice at Western Financial Place due to travel. Kootenay lost in a shootout, but picked up a 5-4 win in the following rematch.

Edmonton, which reigns on top of the Conference standings, has been a little inconsistent of late, splitting their last 10 games with five wins and five losses.

However, Edmonton is on top of the conference for a reason.

“They’re a very good team, they have a lot of talent,” said Dirk. “We got to shut down their top guys and they’re obviously going to try to do the same to us. It’s going to come down to puck management and who sticks to the game plan the best and executes [it].”

Following the Oil Kings affair on Tuesday, the Ice will head into Red Deer to challenge the Rebels. Goaltender Patrik Bartosak shut the door to give the Rebels a 4-0 win at Western Financial Place last Tuesday, a result that still stings for the Ice.

“Getting shut out in our home barn 4-0 is a little embarrassing, because we know we’re way better than that,” said Dirk. “So we have a little chip on our shoulder, we want to go in and get two points in their barn and get back at them.”

Just Posted

The Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group is active again after a few years off and are working to find a home for Gloria in Kimberley. Photo taken at a KRRG fundraiser several years ago. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group active once more

KRRG working to find a refugee a safe place to live in Kimberley

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read