The BC Major Midget League’s (BCMML) Kootenay Ice will celebrate a successful first half of the season over the holidays.
While, the Ice lost a pair of close matches to the fifth-place Fraser Valley Thunderbirds at the Cominco Arena on the weekend, their nine victories are two off their all-time high of 11 set back in 2009-10.
“You have to look at all the positive things,” said Kootenay Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “We set the bar high at the beginning of the year. The last four games are kind of disappointing for us, but having a 9-15 record, when you think of it we have a lot of positives going on, we just have to make sure we capitalize in the second half.”
In Saturday’s game, the Ice had trouble mustering any offence against the 13-7-3-1 T-Birds in a 3-0 shutout loss, but skated with a strong Fraser Valley team through two periods on Sunday before falling 5-2.
The Ice led 2-1 after the first period in Sunday’s match, and the score was tied 2-2 midway through the third period, when an Ice player was sent off for an “undisciplined” penalty.
The Thunderbirds’ Carter Graham promptly tallied his fourth of the season on the ensuing power play for a 3-2 lead, and Baxter Anderson and Justin Plett went on to score two more before the end of the match for the 5-2 win.
“We outshot them and outplayed them today (Sunday),” said Boyce following the game. “But after they scored on a power play our whole momentum of the game kind of fell apart.”
On Saturday, the Ice trailed 1-0 heading into the third period, but couldn’t generate enough offence to find an equalizer against Thunderbirds goalie Boston Bilous.
“They’re number one goalie, he’s committed to an (NCAA) Division 1 scholarship already, so he’s a pretty talented kid. If you don’t get traffic in front of the net and if you don’t get guys willing to go to the net, you’re not going to score on him.”
Ice goalie, Jake Kemp, was stellar in net facing 40 Fraser Valley shots, while the Ice managed 17 against the Thunderbirds, but a number of big saves from Kemp couldn’t boost a sluggish Ice offence.
“You tell him to stop the first shot, but when you have that much traffic in front, they’re going to go in eventually.”
Often neutralized by a strong Fraser Valley forecheck, the Ice had difficulty gettting the puck out of their own end and were unable to sustain any pressure on a big Thunderbirds defence when they did.
“It was tough,” said Boyce. “You try to be positive with the boys, but when you get 17 shots, or five shots a period, that’s not good enough.”
Blake Bonner netted the winning goal with 28 seconds remaining in the first, while Jake Mulder and Brodi Stuart rounded out the scoring for Fraser Valley in the third.
The Ice will enjoy two weeks off this holiday season, and return to BCMML play on Jan. 7 against the Vancouver Canadians in Grand Forks.