Following a thrilling comeback victory for the BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice over Thompson Blazers Saturday, the ice tilted in the Okanagan team’s favour on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Ice were down 3-1 heading into the third period, then pulled off a dramatic 4-3 come-from-behind victory to stun the Blazers. However, it was the Blazers turn on Sunday. The Ice jumped out to a 3-1 lead, only to be reeled in by a Thompson team that tied it in the third and won it 4-3 in overtime. Yet, despite the overtime loss, the Ice earned three of a possible four points on the weekend, and are headed in the right direction.
“Overall as a team we played pretty well,” said Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “But when we play team’s that are equal level, we need all four points, because those are the teams you are going to be battling playoff spots for.”
In Saturday’s match up, Kootenay’s Booker Daniel appeared to have scored the winning goal with 30 seconds left on the clock, but it was waved off because the net had been knocked off its moorings – a regular occurrence during the game.
The Ice regrouped and worked the puck down low in the Blazer end. Simon Nemethy sent the puck over to Daniel who hit Brett Walchuk with a pass at the point, and the Whitehorse native walked in and wired a shot past the Thompson goalie with just 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
“It was a huge confidence boost for the guys, because you’re down 3-1 and then comeback and win with 12 seconds left is pretty exciting,” said Boyce.
Thompson opened the scoring two minutes into the match when Evan Vinterlik beat Ice goalie Jake Kemp. The Ice couldn’t generate many chances in the first, and the Blazers made it 2-0 on a Trent Thompson goal just 54 seconds into the middle frame. Kootenay got on the board when Daniel finished a nice play from Nemethy and Keenan Crossman at 8:49, but the Blazers answered back at the 17 minute mark of the third to take a 3-1 lead.
But Kemp was unbeatable after that and Ice d-man Jackson Bohan ignited the comeback. After Thompson’s Nicholas Bolin was sent off for hooking, Bohan, a Cranbrook native, made it 3-2 on a setup from Nathan Ingram and Caleb Concalves 90 seconds later.
The Ice then capitalized on a two-man advantage tying the game at 10:51 when Adam Pipe tallied his first of the season with assists going to Erik Delaire and Mason McLeod.
“It was a good character win,” said Ice goalie Jake Kemp. “It shows that we have potential, even though we’re not ideally in those spots, when we are, it’s good to get a couple points out of the night.”
The tables were turned on Sunday. The Ice came out flying and jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead on goals from Keenan Crossman, Walchuk, and Riley Green.
“We played really well in that second game and had a 3-1 lead in the second period,” said Boyce. “You get complacent and the game transfers over from there.”
The Blazers chipped away and cut the lead to 3-2 with seven seconds left in the second period, when Tyson Stewart wristed the puck past Xavier Cannon in net for Kootenay. The Blazers tied it at 15:10 on the third, and Timber Lewis netted the winner with 26 seconds remaining in the 3-on-3 overtime.
Despite the setback, Kootenay celebrated its first win of the season and has two games in hand on eight of the other BCMML teams. Kemp, a Castlegar native, earned the win on Saturday and returns to the Ice for his second season. The veteran netminder will be a key player in the Ice’s run for a playoff spot, and is confident in this year’s group.
“We have a lot of skilled players that’s for sure,” said Kemp. “And it’s just the fact that we kind of fused them together, but they’re coming along nicely. What we like to say is, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.”
The Ice travel to Vancouver to take on the Northeast Chiefs on Saturday and Sunday. The Chiefs are looking for their first win in six games, while the Ice endeavour to move up the standings with a couple of victories.
“They haven’t won a game yet,” said Boyce. “So we have to go in there and have the mindset that we have to take four points from them as well.”
Kootenay’s next home game goes Oct. 21-22 against the Valley West Hawks at the Cominco Arena.