All good things must come to an end as things went full circle for the Kootenay Ice.
The Cranbrook-based WHL club had their win streak extended to seven games with a win over the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday, but their good luck ended right back where it started with a road loss against the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday.
After the fallout from the trade deadline settled, Kootenay also named Joey Leach as the new captain, taking the mantle from his predecessor, Drew Czerwonka, who retired from Ice at the beginning of the season.
After the 3 p.m. trade deadline, general manager Jeff Chynoweth also picked up Landon Peel, a 18-year-old defenceman who played 19 games with the Regina Pats last season and spent this year in the MJHL.
The Ice now play 19 of their remaining 29 scheduled games on the road as they begin to push for a playoff spot, lagging eight points behind the Tigers, who occupy eighth place.
It was a shootout at the OK Corral on Friday at Western Financial Place, as Sam Reinhart and Brock Montgomery each posted a hat trick to lead the Ice to a 7-5 victory over the Tigers.
“Once in a while you gotta win 7-5 in this league, especially against that team,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill. “They score a lot of goals and you know what, it was a good test for us, we knew that they would come and we knew that after the first period, even when we were up 3-1, that there was still a lot of hockey to play.
“They got a couple breaks on a couple goals that went off of us, but at the same time, they played hard and it was a good, good test for us.”
Kootenay ended the first frame with a 3-1 lead, but lost it in the second period as the Tigers caught up and briefly pulled ahead, before the Ice caught up and regained a one-goal lead at 5-4.
Though Medicine Hat tied it up in the third, Montgomery broke it to complete his hat trick, and Reinhart posted the empty netter to complete his trio of goals.
Reinhart got things going less than two minutes into the game, off a seemingly innocent-looking shot that snuck by Tigers tender Cam Lanigan on the far side.
Luke Philp doubled the lead ten minutes later, getting one hand on a shot from Austin Vetterl that was enough to lift the puck over Lanigan’s pad.
Reinhart got his second of the game by capitalizing on a rebound from a point shot by Leach just over a minute after Philp’s marker.
However, the Tigers responded by the end of the frame, when Logan McVeigh centred the puck into the slot that went off Tanner Muth’s skate and into the net.
Boston Leier scored on a three-on-one rush into the zone in the second period to bring the Tigers within a goal. Former Ice player Elgin Pearce then caught fire and notched a quick pair to put Medicine Hat in the lead 4-3.
Ice goaltender Mackenzie Skapski was then replaced by Wyatt Hoflin, who went on to win his first career WHL game.
“We had a great start, and that was huge, but the only negative I think we can take away from the game, would be that we let Slapper [Skapski] dry a little bit,” said Montgomery. “We hung him out to dry a little bit, I think. He got pulled and I don’t think that was his fault; I think the onus on that one is on the players, that’s on all of us.
“He’s been playing great lately, stopping lots of pucks, made some huge saves before that.”
Montgomery eventually got his first goal of the game by tipping a shot from Leach to tie things back up again.
Kootenay’s overage forward followed up with another goal on an odd-man rush, beating Lanigan after Levi Cable fed him a cross-ice pass.
Kootenay went into the third leading 5-4 but the Tigers tied it up again when they got another goal that went off a Kootenay defenceman’s skate and deflected into the net.
However, Montgomery put Kootenay back in the lead when he drove to the net from the sideboards and waited out Lanigan as he crossed the crease to chip the puck in.
Reinhart added the token empty netter to complete his hat trick in the final minute.
Special teams was the success story of the night, as Kootenay’s powerplay capitalized three times in their five opportunities.
The Ice rolled in to Spokane on Saturday to put their streak on the line, but lost 4-2 after being unable to recover from a pair of goals by the Chiefs in the first period.
Mitch Holmberg and Brenden Kichton gave the Chiefs an early lead before Jaedon Descheneau answered for the Ice in the second period.
Holmberg restored the two goal lead after the halfway mark, but Philp put the Ice back within a goal late in the frame.
Dylan Walchuk added Spokane’s fourth goal at the midway point of the final period, as his team kept the Ice at bay and held on for the win.
Kootenay is now on a four game road swing through Saskatchewan where they will play Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina and Moose Jaw for four games in five nights.