The BC Major Midget Kootenay Ice continue to roll as the J.L. Crowe High Performance team swept a pair of games against the Thompson Blazers in Cranbrook on the weekend.
The Ice blitzed the Blazers 5-1 on Saturday before skating to a tight and physical 2-1 win on Sunday, and earn some breathing room in the BCMML standings.
“We played pretty solid,” said Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “Thompson beat the Okanagan (Rockets) both games the previous week so we knew they were going to be on a high.”
With the two victories, the 9-11-0-0 Ice moved to within three points of the seventh-place, 9-8-2-1, Vancouver NW Giants, who split with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds on the weekend. The Ice also build an eight-point cushion on ninth-place North Island Silvertips.
In Sunday’s 2-1 victory, Ice captain Morgan Peace netted the winning goal midway through the first period, scoring his first of the season after coming off injury.
“Hopefully that’s a confidence booster for him. He’s been playing so well, but he just hasn’t put the puck in the net,” said Boyce. “When you’re off for a month and a half (with injury), it’s hard to get back into it.”
After Rossland native Ethan Jang made it 1-0 converting a setup from Christian Macasso and Aiden Jenner at 12:40 of the first, Peace banged in a pass from Tommie McConnachie two minutes and 31 seconds later to give the Ice a 2-0 lead.
“The second game was way tighter. We knew they were going to come out and play a better game. We were in the penalty box a lot more and all their chances were generated off the power play, but we dominated 5-on-5.”
The Blazers struck back on a 5-on-3 power play, when Ethan Tucker beat Ice goalie Jaysen MacLean to cut the lead to one. But both goaltenders shut their respective doors after that as the teams battled through two scoreless periods in the 2-1 Ice win.
Following the final buzzer, a Thompson player fired the puck at the Ice captain and hit him in the chest. Peace’s teammates took issue with the player’s action, and a bench-clearing brawl ensued. When the dust settled, three players from the Ice – Macasso, Terrell Clarricoates, and Jenner – received misconducts and will likely be suspended for the upcoming games against the Cariboo Cougars this weekend. The Blazers received a gross misconduct and had one player ejected.
“Thompson seemed like they wanted to play a more aggressive game, so they were trying to get under the skin of a few of our players who could possibly take penalties,” said Boyce. “It’s tough, you tell the guys to go out there to play on the edge but not over the edge.”
In Saturday’s 5-1 match, the Ice jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead on goals from Wilson Reid, Jang, and D-man D.J. Horne to set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Mathew Cooper made it 4-0 just 40 seconds into the second period on a setup from Jenner and Macasso, before Tucker put the Blazers on the board at 16:22. But Fruitvale’s Owen Titus converted a Keenan Crossman dish midway through the second to complete the scoring for the Ice. Jenner had a goal and two assists for Kootenay, while Macasso pitched in with two helpers.
“We went out there and played really strong in the first period, and got the lead,” said Boyce. “We played really well, even after they pulled their goalie, they’re backup didn’t let any in, but we had some great chances.”
The Ice travel to Prince George to take on the league-leading Cariboo Cougars this weekend. The Cougars swept the two-game series in Trail to open the season and will be a difficult opponent at home. But with the Kootenay team’s confidence growing with every win, the Ice’s coach is more than curious to see how the team handles the adversity of a long bus trip followed by a hostile welcome in the Cougar’s den on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s going to be nice to go up and see what we can do against those guys. We haven’t played since the first games of the year. Our team has developed and changed a lot since those first games, so I want to see how we compare with the best team in the league.”