Playing their third game in three nights, while also travelling over 680 kilometres along the way, the Kootenay Ice had plenty of reasons to struggle against the Swift Current Broncos on Wednesday night.
Coming off the heels of a 7-0 blowout at the hands of the Lethbridge Hurricanes however, the team came to play early. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep up the pressure and lost 5-3.
While the Broncos boasted a 26-10-2-0 record heading into the night, good enough for second in the WHL, they were in the middle of a tough spell. They had lost their past three games and were severely missing top-point producers Aleksi Heponiemi and Tyler Steenbergen, both away at the U-20 World Juniors tournament.
At the start of the game, the Ice were the more energetic team.
Just a minute and 19 seconds into the game, Brad Ginnell opened the scoring with his first goal as a member of the Kootenay Ice, standing right in front of goalie Logan Flodell and whacking home a rebound.
A few minutes later, Kootenay was gifted a clear cut two-on-zero with Alec Baer playing give-and-go with Keenan Taphorn to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Outshooting the Broncos 16-8 in the opening period, the Ice gave up their first goal while on a power play. The marker by Swift Current forward Sahvan Khaira was the tenth shorthanded goal against for Kootenay this season and fifth in the past five games.
“In the first period, I thought we played extremely well,” said Ice associate head coach Jon Klemm after the game. “We did everything we wanted to do, competed and won some battles … to give up that shorthanded goal was tough.”
In the second frame, the Ice began their collapse, being outplayed and giving up a goal to Kaden Elder near the midway mark. Stripping Kaeden Taphorn of the puck in front, as he was attempting to clear Matteo Gennaro’s rebound, Elder beat Bailey Brkin five-hole.
Although the former-Bronco Brkin, dealt to the Ice in September, was clutch with the game tied and made several big stops to close out the period, he was eventually beat by the other half of the trade.
Former Kootenay winger Max Patterson, who was buzzing all night, put in his fifth goal of the season at the start of the third, getting net-front position with his 6’5 frame and snapping one home.
The Ice rallied nine minutes later, with Hausinger scoring quickly off a faceoff, but the tie did not last long. Cutting to the net soon after, Matteo Gennaro put in the game winner with a tremendous individual effort.
Pulling their goalie early, Elder potted his second of the night to seal the deal for the home team and hit the Ice with a three-game losing streak.
At the final buzzer, the shots were 41-33 in favour of Swift Current, with Brkin making 36 saves in the loss. Hausinger, meanwhile, has scored in seven of his last nine games.
Now at 18-19-3-0 and barely hanging on to second place in the Central Division, Kootenay continue their intense schedule with a game in Prince Albert on Friday night against the Raiders, and then in Saskatoon on Saturday against the Blades.