The Kootenay Ice continue to find ways to win and each night they seem to discover a new key to success.
The Ice rattled off three wins in three nights this weekend, including a decisive victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes, a shutout of the Medicine Hat Tigers and a come-from-behind triumph over the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“Chasing these guys in the standings, those two points are big,” said Ice forward Levi Cable after the team’s 7-3 win over Moose Jaw Sunday evening. “They’re going to be big down the line. We really needed all six points this weekend.
“We’ve got to keep the things that we’re doing right. We’ve got to keep those going. Continuing to work hard and work together as a team. It’ll come just as it is now.”
The successful weekend pushed the Ice ever closer to .500 as they sit 11-14-0-0 through 25 games.
Friday night, the magic of Tim Bozon and Sam Reinhart continued to open doors for the Ice in a 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes. Bozon recorded two goals an assist, while Reinhart set up both Bozon’s tallies, including the game-winner, en route to staking his claim as the Kootenay Ice all-time franchise leader in assists.
“I’ve obviously played with a lot of good players, starting with my brother [Max] in my first year,” Reinhart said Friday night. “Descheneau, Bozon, Philp — I don’t want to get into too much name calling because I’ve played with so many good guys. Playing with guys who can put the puck in the net [helps].
“Anytime you can put your name beside an established player in the National Hockey League like Jarret Stoll, it’s pretty exciting.”
Reinhart set the mark after playing 209 WHL games with the Ice. For Stoll, an NHL mainstay with the Los Angeles Kings, it took 245 games to get to 162 helpers.
The North Vancouver native continued his productive weekend with an assist in Medicine Hat before notching three more helpers Sunday against Moose Jaw. The added production extended Reinhart’s point streak to eight games in which he’s scored four goals and 14 assists. No opponent has managed to hold Reinhart off the scoresheet since he returned to the Ice from the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.
“He sees the ice really well,” Bozon said of his linemate. “Before he gets the puck, he knows exactly where we are on the ice. He’s got great vision and he’s a great passer. I know Sammy likes to score goals, but I think his strength is to pass the puck. He’s a great playmaker.
“He deserves [the record]. He worked hard for it. It’s a positive thing for him. I know he was disappointed coming back from the NHL. Now, he’s got a record in his hands and people will remember him forever.”
Saturday, the Ice traveled to Medicine Hat, exacting revenge on the Tigers in a 3-0 shutout victory.
Goaltender Wyatt Hoflin locked down the Ice cage, turning in a 48-save performance that stands as the most stops in a shutout by any WHL goaltender so far this season.
Forward Jaedon Descheneau tallied a first-period power-play goal. Combined with Hoflin’s stellar performance, that’s all the visitors needed to steal two points from the Tigers.
Sunday night, it was the Kootenay Ice third line holding the keys to success.
Matt Alfaro, Jon Martin and Levi Cable combined for four goals, powering the Ice to a six-goal, third-period comeback win over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.
Martin, playing the 200th game of his WHL career, registered a goal and three assists to lead the charge.
Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 210 pounds, the big-bodied winger missed significant time with an upper-body injury this season, having only skated in 10 of the team’s 25 contests thus far. He returned to the Kootenay Ice lineup Friday night against the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“I was out for a month. It was definitely really good to get back,” Martin said Sunday. “I was a little bit nervous coming back in with my shoulder [injury] and everything, but things are going good.”
Warriors goaltender Brody Willms, 16, made his first-career WHL start Sunday evening.
Willms was solid through 40 minutes, holding the Ice to one goal on 27 shots. But the third-period push was too much for the Coquitlam native, as the Ice beat him six times on 13 tries, executing the come-from-behind win.
In a matter of 5:20, Cable scored both the tying and winning goals, before Martin chipped in with an insurance marker. Alfaro rounded out the trio’s scoring, depositing the seventh puck past Willms with a nasty wrist shot late in the period.
The Ice have now won eight of their last nine games as they try to push their way up the WHL’s Central Division standings.
Next up, the Ice (11-14-0-0) head out on a three-game American road trip, beginning Friday, Nov. 28 against the Portland Winterhawks (11-12-0-3).
Notes: In addition to F Jon Martin, F Levi Cable and F Kyle O’Connor returned to the lineup Friday versus Lethbridge after battling injury…D Tanner Faith (upper body, one to three weeks) was once again unavailable…