It wasn’t the prettiest win and it certainly wasn’t the easiest win, but at the very least, the Kootenay Ice found a way to claim two points Friday night at Western Financial Place, scoring a 4-3 overtime victory against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Ice captain Luke Philp, on his 20th birthday, made a power move towards the net, beating Tigers goaltender Austin Lotz to blow out the candles.
“We played really well the first two periods and to come out and have a third [period] like that, we have to work on that for sure,” Philp said Friday night. “Our goaltender, again, he’s huge for us every night. He stands on his head and he’s one of the best goalies in the league. We owe that game to him.”
Hoflin was indeed stellar Friday, particularly in the third period as he weathered a furious push from the visiting Tigers.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the final 20 minutes of play, the Tigers sent 21 pucks in Hoflin’s direction and managed to beat the 20-year-old native of Spruce Grove, Alta., three times to take a 3-2 lead.
With time winding down, the Ice managed to stick with it as River Beattie took a feed from Philp and tucked it past Lotz to knot the game 3-3 with only 54.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It was disappointing the way we played in the third period,” said Luke Pierce, head coach of the Kootenay Ice. “Got to give them credit at the end — a resilient effort by those guys to tie it up. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised, actually.
“We found a way to win it.
“But I thought our third period was unacceptable.”
The third period was an absolute landslide as far as the hosts were concerned as Tigers forward Alex Mowbray converted twice before the midway mark of the period to tie the game 2-2.
With the game even, the Tigers continued to press and it was only a matter of time before Mark Rassell broke in alone on Hoflin, beating the Ice netminder to make it 3-2 in favour of the visitors.
Despite the broken third period, the opening 40 minutes of play came from a much different looking Kootenay Ice squad.
The Ice opened the scoring on a turnover just inside the Tigers blueline 11:52 into the first period.
Right wing Austin Wellsby took advantage of the broken play inside the Tigers blueline, finding a streaking Tanner Lishchynsky. The 20-year-old defenceman drove the net before feeding Matt Alfaro on the back door, who had nothing left to do but deposit it past a helpless Lotz and the Ice took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes.
In the second period, rookie defenceman Dallas Hines put his team out front 2-0 with his first-career WHL goal.
Hines took a pass from fellow rookie Noah Philp, hammering a one-time blast that found a hole in Lotz 6:01 into the second period.
“It was an awesome feeling to get the monkey off my back and get my first one in the WHL,” Hines said Friday.
“I took a shot that went a little bit wide and it came around to [Bryan] Allbee. He dished it down to [Noah] Philp, who made a beautiful pass right across the seam to me and just took a shot. It ended up in the back of the net.”
In his rookie season, the native of Marwayne, Alta., has been in and out of the lineup, but that hasn’t kept him from making positive strides.
“He doesn’t get down on himself, even being out of the lineup, he keeps a positive attitude and that’s really important,” Pierce said of Hines. “We’ve got eight defencemen right now and a coupe of guys are going to have to sit. They have to take the right approach and stay positive. Dallas understood that and I thought he was good today.”
Hines not only finished the night with his first goal, he also added an assist on Beattie’s game-tying effort to round out the first multi-point effort of his young WHL career.
By the end of the night, Hoflin made 40 stops to earn the 50th victory of his WHL career, while Lotz turned aside 29 shots at the other end.
Next up, the Ice head to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes Saturday night.
Daily Townsman Three Stars:
1) RW Alex Mowbray, Medicine Hat Tigers (2G)2) C Steven Owre, Medicine Hat Tigers (2A)3) D Dallas Hines, Kootenay Ice (1G, 1A)
Notes: The Ice went without D Tyler King (knee, indefinite), RW Jaedon Descheneau (upper body, indefinite), D Dylan Overdyk and D Jason Wenzel… Ice D Cale Fleury (upper body) made his return to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 7 at Saskatoon. Fleury missed 11 games due to injury…