Backed by solid goaltending from Jaysen MacLean, the Major Midget Ice had another bounce-back effort on Sunday in BC Major Midget League (BCMML) action, earning a split by taking down the Vancouver NW Giants 3-1 at the North Shore Winter Club.
“The guys battled hard,” said the Ice goaltender, MacLean. “It was a solid effort, we had a lot of shots on net, we took chances and took advantage of our chances, had a few power-play goals. Our defence really stepped up and played a solid game in our end, and our forwards really took it to them in the offensive zone. I thought we controlled most of the game and the pace of it, and it was a solid team effort.”
The Midget Ice dropped their Saturday tilt 7-2 in an undisciplined effort that saw the Giants net four power-play goals. Vancouver did most of the damage in the second period breaking open a 2-0 game and scoring four times, as the Ice were sent off on repeated infractions and frustration set in.
“We had a bit of a grudge match going in the first game and it wasn’t really going our way, with the refereeing,” said MacLean. “Eventually you get to a point, where if you take too many penalties it’s going to cost you.”
But Sunday’s match saw a different Kootenay team take to the ice. In Game 2, a determined Ice team opened the game with a power-play goal from Whitehorse defenceman Mathew Cooper at 15:49 of the second period on a setup from Trail forward Tommy McConnachie. Three minutes later, Montrose product Christian Macasso scored his seventh goal on a heads-up play from Trail’s Ethan Jang and Niall Lawrie that stood up as the winner.
The Giants’ Dominic Davis scored with just 20 seconds left in the second period to make it 2-1, but that’s as close as the game would get as Kootenay’s Morgan Peace scored an insurance goal late in the third to make it a 3-1 game. The Ice went 1-for-4 on the power play and were perfect on the penalty kill, as the Giants went 0-for-3 with the extra man.
MacLean was solid in net, picking up his eighth win and repelling numerous opportunities in a 40-plus save performance for the Ice. The Port Alberni native has settled in nicely, and, along with Matt Kemp, have provided Kootenay with a dependable and often outstanding goaltending tandem.
“I knew coming in it was going to be a big year for the organization,” said MacLean. “And I think we’re turning heads, we’re winning a lot more games than people expected us to, and I think that’s a good thing. We’re just taking it game by game, and shift by shift, I guess you could say.”
MacLean has also enjoyed the experience of meeting new players, and starting fresh with the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy and the Kootenay Midget Ice program.
“It’s a fun time, because it’s fun meeting new people, and a new school. My billets are good guys, Terry (Jones) is a great guy, Kris (Boyce), Tyler (Hlookoff), Paul (Mailey), all of them, it’s just a great experience for me as a goalie.”
The Ice embark on another road trip this weekend as they travel to Richmond for a BCMML Showcase weekend where all 11 teams play at the Richmond Oval. The 10-17-0-1 Kootenay Ice faces the third-place Okanagan Rockets with a 19-5-0-2 record. Led by December’s BCMML Player of the Month, Coleton Bilodeau, who leads the league in scoring with 19 goals and 48 points, the Rockets will be a tough opponent but are eminently beatable, having lost a pair of games to the 10th place Thompson Blazers this season.
Kootenay’s next home games go on Feb. 4 and 5 when they host the North Island Silvertips at the Cominco Arena.