After a hot start, the Kootenay Ice weren’t able to sustain their momentum, falling 4-1 to the Tri-City Americans in their first exhibition action of the new season.
Jon Martin scored the lone goal for the Ice, while goaltender Wyatt Hoflin made 32 saves in net.
Beau McCue scored twice, while Marcus Messier and Austin Playfair supplied the offence for Tri-City. Goaltender Evan Sarthou made 19 saves for the win.
Kootenay didn’t capitalize on both power play opportunities, while the Americans were denied on three of their own.
“We did exactly what we wanted to do coming out of the gate, we just couldn’t sustain it,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill. “We made some mental errors with the puck in the neutral zone and then once it got to the D-zone, it was a bit of a Chinese fire drill, but nothing that we can’t work on.”
Kootenay came out strong in the opening period, outshooting Tri-City 15-9, with Martin getting his goal just after the halfway mark, with an assist by former American Clint Filbrandt.
A few minutes later, Tri-City knotted it back up on Playfair’s unassisted effort.
Going into the second period, momentum shifted as the Americans outshot Kootenay 19-8 on the clock and Messier took the lead with seven minutes remaining.
McCue scored in the final frame, and added an empty netter for a pair of goals to seal up the score at 4-1
The Ice defensive corps also suffered a blow when veteran Landon Peel went down with an undisclosed injury.
“We had a young group in there and I think we had one veteran defenceman go down—Peel got hurt—so after that, our defence looked young and inexperienced, but it is the first game,” said McGill.
“Not to make any excuses, but we’re a week behind and we just need to get a little better tomorrow and hopefully get better the next day.”
Kootenay takes on the Spokane Chiefs on Friday and the Everett Silvertips on Saturday to close out the exhibition tournament in Kennewick.
Win or lose, the goal is still evaluating the remaining prospects on the roster, said McGill.
“I’ve got three lineups ready for these three games, with a purpose to see certain guys and we’re not varying from that plan,” McGill said.
NOTES: The Americans have Ty Comrie on the roster, the younger brother of the club’s goaltender Eric Comrie and Ice alum Mike Comrie. The Young Stars NHL Prospects tournament is underway in Penticton, B.C. Ice alum Max Reinhart scored once for the Calgary Flames in a 5-2 victory while playing against former Ice teammate Joey Leach, Cranbrook native Ben Betker and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers.