The Kootenay Ice deserved better on the weekend, dropping two close games to the South Island Royals in BC Major Midget League action.
Kootenay lost 2-1 to the Royals in Sunday’s match up at the Cominco Arena, following a 4-3 loss to the visitors on Saturday.
The Royals scored with 33 seconds left in regulation to break a 1-1 tie on a play where Kootenay goalie Carston Schrimpton looked to be interfered with, but the goal stood and the Royals celebrated.
After a scoreless first period, South Island grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kieran Strange at 17:52 of the second period.
The Royals went on a power play in the final minute, but Ice countered with Noah Quinn scoring a shorthanded goal on a setup from Ethan Smyth with just seven seconds left in the period.
The game looked poised for overtime in a back-and-forth third period but the late goal decided it, despite a gutsy, last-second push by the Ice.
With their goalie pulled, Kootenay swarmed the Royals net. Ice forward Jacob Smith had the first chance, wheeling across the slot and firing a shot at South Island goalie Fraser Wyatt. Quinn tried to bang in the rebound at the side of the net, but Wyatt got over in time to make the stop. Quinn gathered the puck, circled behind the net and fed Smyth in front, but the Royals goalie somehow dove across and stymied the attempt with the blocker.
With bodies flying and a couple of point-shots blocked, Wyatt finally smothered the puck with six seconds left, as the South Island fended off the Ice attack for the win.
The losses were devastating for a Kootenay team looking to gain ground and vie for the eighth and final BC Major Midget League playoff spot. The wins lift the Royals into a tie for the final playoff spot with the North Island Silvertips and extend their lead over Kootenay by five points.
On Saturday, Kootenay’s Adam Parsons gave the Ice a 1-0 lead, but the Royals came back in the second scoring two goals within 38 seconds midway through the period for a 2-1 advantage. South Island’s Cameron Smith put the visitors up 3-1, but the Ice’s Julian Rutland cut the lead to one at 10:58.
The Royals regained the two-goal lead at 6:56 on a goal from defenceman Cyprus Smith-Davis, but the Ice again cut it back to one on a power-play snipe from Smith.
Kootenay battled in the final minutes but could not find the equalizer. Parsons had a three-point night for Kootenay with a goal and two assists, while Kootenay goalie Colton Phillips-Watts suffered the loss.
Kootenay travels to Kamloops this weekend to face off against the Thompson Blazers, who currently sit in seventh place with a 11-18-0-1 record, seven points up on the 8-24-0-0 Ice.
The Ice have eight games remaining in the regular season, and two wins against the Blazers could bring them right back into the mix, as South Island plays four of the top five teams in the BCMML in its final four weekends.
The Ice have a bye the following week, and are on the road until returning to the Cominco Arena on Feb. 29 for their final two games of the season versus the Vancouver North West Hawks.