The Kootenay Ice lost more than just a game on Wednesday night, they lost valuable ground in the playoff race.
First, the Rebels edged the Ice 3-2 in Red Deer, while the out-of-town scoreboard didn’t provide any relief as the Swift Current Broncos defeated the Saskatoon Blades 6-5.
Those results mean Swift Current dogs the fifth-place Ice by only one point in the Eastern Conference standings.
Rebels goaltender Patrik Bartosak was unreal, turning away a whopping 47 shots as Kootenay threw everything but the kitchen sink at him to no avail at the end of the game.
While it felt a bit like Bartosak stole the win for Red Deer, the Ice had some quality chances they should’ve buried, said head coach Ryan McGill.
“I’d say it was a combination of both,” said McGill. “When you have point-blank chances and you don’t score—the goalie [Bartosak] is a second- and third-effort goalie, and we needed to bear down on some chances.”
Jaedon Descheneau picked up his 43 goal of the season, while Jon Martin tallied his first goal since returning from injury. Kootenay goaltender Mackenzie Skapski made 25 saves.
Brooks Maxwell, Nick Charif and Scott Feser all scored in separate periods on the road to Rebel victory.
Kootenay was scoreless in two powerplay opportunities, while Red Deer wasn’t able to capitalize in one chance with the man-advantage.
After a turnover in Kootenay territory, Maxwell beat Skapski in front of the net for a 1-0 Red Deer lead early in the first period.
Cherif doubled the lead in the middle frame, wiring a shot into the net after entering the zone.
However, 53 seconds later, Descheneau scored off the rush while coming down the wing to cut into the Rebels’ lead.
With all kinds of pressure in Rebels territory, the Ice just couldn’t buy a goal in the third period. Red Deer added insult to injury when Feser scored with 3:56 remaining in the game.
“Obviously, we were more desperate in the third period, but we gave up a bad goal. Their third goal was a bad goal—not on our goalie’s part—but on our coverage part. It was a three-on-two with nobody back-checking.”
Less than a minute later, with six attackers out on the ice, Kootenay managed to get a goal from Martin, who redirected a bouncing puck past Bartosak.
Red Deer shut it down after that, holding off the Ice for the win.
NOTES: Kootenay had scratched Ryan Chynoweth, Tim Bozon, Tanner Faith, Landon Peel and Landon Cross. The win for Red Deer moves them up to seventh place, jumping over the Prince Albert Raiders, who were stomped 7-1 by the Regina Pats. Ice captain Sam Reinhart has 99 points, with two more games to crack the century mark, which would be the first time since Jarrett Stoll’s 106-point effort in 2000/2001.