The Kootenay Ice came out of Washington state with a better look at their veterans and prospects after losing three games to U.S. Division teams at a tournament hosted by the Tri-City Americans.
Kootenay found their scoring touch on Saturday, however, they lost 8-6 to the Everett Silvertips. The night before, they fell 5-1 to the Spokane Chiefs and opened their preseason schedule with a 4-1 loss to the Americans on Thursday night.
However, the club’s coaching and management staff is more concerned with player evaluations at this point rather than the wins and losses column.
“We certainly saw some very good things out of some players and we saw some things with some players that need improvement,” said Ice head coach Ryan McGill. “Overall, losing three games this weekend wasn’t the point of this—the point of this weekend was to see what guys can play in the league, what guys can play in certain situations, and how committed and dedicated some guys are going to play, coming in as veterans.”
The goals came fast and furious on Saturday, as Kootenay and Everett lit the red lamp multiple times in every period, however, the Silvertips’ offence proved to be too much to handle.
Kootenay got early goals from Kyle O’Connor and Mathew Alfaro, but Everett jumped to a 3-2 lead at the end of the first frame on goals from Kevin Davis, Logan Aasman and Manraj Hayer.
Collin Shirley and Jordyn Boyd potted Kootenay markers in the second period, but the Silvertips kept scoring, on goals from Austin Adams, Patrick Bajkov and Hayer, as Everett led 6-4 after 40 minutes.
The Ice made a push in the third, with goals from Shirley and Austin Vetterl, however, Everett responded in kind, on efforts from Bajkov and Ivan Nikolishin.
“Obviously, we don’t like to lose, it’s not about losing, but you know what? When you give up eight goals, preseason or not, that’s embarrassing, so we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said McGill.
Wyatt Hoflin was in net for the Ice, making 26 saves in the loss, while Kootenay put 25 shots on ‘Tips goaltender Nik Amundrud.
Kootenay capitalized twice on two powerplay opportunities, while the ‘Tips made good on three of six chances.
The night before, Kootenay fell 5-1 to the Chiefs, in a game that was commandeered by the 20-year-olds on both teams.
Zach McPhee, Kootenay’s overager this year, scored his team’s only goal, while Mike Aviani and Mitch Holmberg, two 20-year-olds for Spokane, both notched a pair of goals. Colton Bobyk, 17, rounded out the offence for the Chiefs.
Ice prospect Jayden Sittler got his first taste of WHL action in goal, making 26 saves in a losing cause, while Eric Williams and Tyson Verhelst shared netminding duties for the Chiefs.
Kootenay will have a chance to get some practice under their belts before resuming the preseason for a pair of games in the Crowsnest Pass next weekend.
“We have a good week of practice coming up,” said McGill. “We need to look at a lot of things and get ready for two very important preseason games that we need to get ready for the regular season with.”
NOTES: The Ice lost defenceman Landon Peel to injury on the first game of the tournament against Tri-City on Thursday. McGill said Peel will be re-evaluated on Monday and is listed as day-to-day.