The Kootenay Ice managed to scrounge one point in a 7-6 shootout loss on the road against the Swift Current Broncos Tuesday night.
With his team having blown a 5-2 lead in the third period of play, Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill was not pleased with his group.
“To lose after you have a 5-2 lead going into the third period — clearly, it’s acceptable for the group,” McGill said over the phone from Swift Current. “What are you going to do about it? You can’t do anything about it now.
“We were casual in our play from the start of the period to the end. We didn’t think that it was important enough for us to be urgent with the puck and, really simply, play the right way.”
The three-goal advantage wasn’t the only multi-goal lead the Ice let slip away Tuesday night.
After 20 minutes of play, Luke Philp, Tim Bozon and Jaedon Descheneau had all tallied. A response from Tanner LeSann got the Broncos on the board, but the Ice carried a 3-1 advantage into the first intermission.
The Ice outscored the Broncos yet again in the second period, as Bozon registered his second of the evening and defenceman Tanner Lishchynsky scored his first as a member of the Ice with a power-play goal in the final minute of the period.
Coda Gordon mustered the only goal for the Broncos in the second period and once again, the Ice carried a commanding lead — this time 5-2 — into the the second intermission.
Then it all came crashing in.
Gordon scored his second of the night 5:02 into the third period to make it a two-goal game.
With time winding down, Jake DeBrusk tallied his 36th goal of the campaign to pull the Broncos within one.
After a turnover deep in Swift Current territory, the Broncos took the puck the other direction on the strength of a three-on-two, odd-man rush. DeBrusk found defenceman Ayrton Nikkel up on the play and the 19-year-old Kelowna native cashed in to tie the game 5-5 with 3:37 remaining in regulation.
Less than a minute later, Ice forward Levi Cable made a nifty move down low before sending a wrist shot over the glove of Broncos goaltender Travis Child, who came on in relief of Landon Bow after the Broncos starter allowed five goals on 18 shots.
Once again, the Ice led the Broncos, this time with 2:47 to play.
They refused to go away all night long, so why would a determined Swift Current Broncos team pack it in at that point?
All it took was 1:22 before Broncos captain Colby Cave redirected a point shot to tie the game 6-6 and force overtime.
After a scoreless extra period and three rounds without a goal in the shootout, DeBrusk buried a shot blocker side on Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin to put his team in the driver’s seat for the first time all night.
And it was all the Broncos needed.
Ice captain Sam Reinhart had to score to keep the game alive in the fourth round of the shootout and despite beating Child with a smooth deke, the Buffalo Sabres prospect rang a backhand shot off the crossbar.
The comeback was complete.
The devastating 7-6 loss comes on the heels of three consecutive wins for the Ice, including a 5-0 shutout victory over the Spokane Chiefs Saturday night.
Once again, consistency continues to plague.
“[This] should have been ironed out a long time ago,” McGill said. “It’s a consistency issue within the room. We’ve got to get better every day and we’ve got to feel that it’s important to string together some consistency and some wins.
“We had a 3-1 lead and a 5-2 lead and we were in control. We became casual. I think we thought it was going to be easy. I can’t speak for [the players] but that’s what I think.”
Hoflin managed 31 saves in facing 37 shots, while Child turned aside 15 of 16 pucks to earn the win in relief of Bow.
The Kootenay Ice return to action Wednesday night as they visit the Regina Pats.
“We’ve got to play [Wednesday]. There’s no message right now,” McGill said. “If I need to send them a message right now, then I shouldn’t even be here.”
Notes: The Kootenay Ice went without D Rinat Valiev (flu), D Tanner Faith (shoulder), D Dylan Overdyk and F Austin Wellsby Tuesday night…