The Kootenay Ice have a chance to make a real ascent in the standings starting tonight, as they begin a stretch of seven games at their home arena.
Following a busy start to 2018, in which they were logging plenty of miles heading to and from home, the team should be able to get comfortable for a little while.
On a two-game winning streak, the Ice host the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight who are just coming off one of the toughest nights of a very long and hard season.
With an overall record of 12-26-4-2, the Oil Kings are in last place in the WHL and were crushed 9-1 by the high-flying Swift Current Broncos last Saturday night. That loss was coming off the heels of a 8-2 defeat at the hands of the top-ranked Moose Jaw Warriors.
As for the Ice, they’re feeling good vibes after a 7-2 home win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night and a last minute, come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers the following day.
After 4 games, Kootenay is steadfast in third place in the Central Division and firmly holding onto a playoff spot.
While tonight’s game might seem like the meeting of polar opposites trending in seperate directions, the season series has been close so far. All three games have ended with 4-3 score lines with Edmonton taking the first one in early October, Kootenay taking the next one in late November and then winning in overtime in their final game of 2017.
In recent efforts, the Ice have been led by the players that they were counting on coming into the season to be leaders.
Dallas Stars prospect Brett Davis was the hero against Medicine Hat, scoring the game-winner with just 4.2 seconds left in regulation. It was his third goal in his past two games and sixth point in the last four.
According to head coach James Patrick, he has been their best player of late along with captain Colton Kroeker and defenceman Martin Bodak.
After missing nearly a month while serving as the captain of Slovakia at the U-20 World Junior Championships, Bodak returned recently and has been a dynamic offensive and defensive presence.
Scoring two goals against Medicine Hat on Wednesday, including an incredible solo effort in which he deked around the entire opposing team, the import player has strengthened the club’s defence immensely.
The Ice also have the top scoring rookie in the WHL in Peyton Krebs, who has three assists in his past two games and 38 points in 40 total games.
On the Oil Kings end, they continued their rebuild in the lead up to the recent WHL trade deadline, sending top centreman Davis Koch to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for winger Brendan Semchuk, goalie Todd Scott and a third-round draft pick.
Since his acquisition, Semchuk has zero points and is a -3 in two games and Scott has let in six goals in 55 minutes of playing time.
Leading the team in points is 18-year-old hometown boy Trey Fix-Wolansky, who has 18 goals and 32 points in 50 games. He is trailed by Czech-import Tomas Soustal who has 11 goals and 27 assists in 41 games.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Western Financial Place. Following that game, the Ice host the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Brandon Wheat Kings next Friday and Saturday and then the Edmonton Oil Kings again next Wednesday.
The following weekend, the team wraps up its lengthy period at home with a visit from the Spokane Chiefs and the Swift Current Broncos.