Sam Reinhart to Tim Bozon — that’s a combination Kootenay Ice fans and folks around the Western Hockey League won’t soon forget.
The dynamic duo once again worked magic for the Kootenay Ice, leading the hosts to a decisive 5-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes at Western Financial place Friday night.
“We could have had two or three more goals,” Bozon said after the win. “Their goalie made some big saves, including at the end on Sam [Reinhart].”
“I think it was a good game that showed we can score goals. You take only one or two goals against every game, it is what you’re looking for.”
The native of Valbonne, France, finished the night with two goals and an assist. In his past two games, the 20-year-old Montreal Canadiens prospect has racked up six points, pushing his season totals past the double-digit mark (6G, 6A).
Heading into the game knotted with former Ice forward Jarret Stoll at 162 career assists, Reinhart set up Bozon twice, including the eventual game-winner, laying claim to the outright franchise lead in helpers.
“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’s two-assist outing not only etched his name in Kootenay Ice history, it also extended his point streak to six games since returning from the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. The 19-year-old native of North Vancouver is quickly climbing the Ice and WHL scoring charts, with four goals, 11 assists and 15 points to date.
“He sees the ice really well,” Bozon said of his line mate. “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.”
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.
There wasn’t much Hurricanes goaltender Zac Robidoux could do to stop the likes of Bozon and Reinhart Friday night. The 18-year-old native of Morden, Man., turned in a spectacular performance, making 43 saves, including a couple show-stoppers to keep his team in the game.
After a scoreless first period, Bozon tallied twice in the second to the give the Ice all they would need.
Hurricanes forward Taylor Cooper scored 26 seconds into the third period to make things interesting by cutting into the Ice lead.
Just when it looked like Lethbridge might make a game of things, Levi Cable went hard to the net on the very next shift, cleaning up a rebound 25 seconds later to restore the two-goal edge for the hosts and that was essentially it.
Ice defenceman Rinat Valiev added an empty-netter with 1:13 on the clock before Jaedon Descheneau wired a power-play slap shot through Robidoux with 3.6 seconds remaining to close out the scoring.
After a shaky performance Wednesday against Medicine Hat, Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin was solid between the pipes, turning aside 25 shots to earn his ninth victory of the season.
The win improved the Ice to 9-14-0-0, while the Hurricanes fell to 5-13-3-1 with the loss.
“At this point it seems like you’re either playing someone you’re trying to catch or separate yourself from,” Reinhart said. “[Lethbridge] is a team we’re trying to separate from. It shows that every game is so important. We’ve got another big one [Saturday] against another big rival, at least over the last couple years, in Medicine Hat.”
The Ice have now won six of their last seven games, the only setback being Wednesday’s 7-3 loss to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Ice travel east in search of revenge against the Tigers (16-5-1-1) Saturday night.
“We know they’re a fast team,” Bozon said. “We have to make sure we close the gap on their forwards. It’s going to be all about details. It’s going to be a fast game, but I think we have a good chance if we play like we did tonight [against Lethbridge].”
The Tigers head into Saturday coming off a 4-2 road defeat at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels Friday night.
Following Saturday’s outing in Medicine Hat, the Ice return home for their third game in three nights when they host the Moose Jaw Warriors (9-10-2-1) Sunday evening at 6 p.m.
Notes: The Ice were boosted by the returns of F Kyle O’Connor, F Jon Martin and F Levi Cable Friday night. All three had missed extended time due to injury. With their insertion into the lineup, F Austin Wellsby and F River Beattie sat as healthy scratches…D Tanner Faith was once again unavailable as he continues to nurse an upper-body injury…