The Kootenay Ice rebounded big time from a lop-sided 9-1 loss against the first-place Valley West Hawks on Saturday at Planet Ice in Delta, and skated to a gutsy 5-4 victory over the Hawks on Sunday in Langley.
Ice forward Simon Nemethy netted a hat trick and Xavier Cannon was stellar in net in dealing the Hawks just their third loss of the season – two of which came from the Ice.
Special teams proved key for Kootenay on Sunday, as Fruitvale native Jaxson Waterstreet scored his third of the season while shorthanded to give the Ice a 1-0 lead at 8:38. But, before the penalty expired the Hawks evened the score on a Cameron MacDonald tally 40 seconds later.
Nemethy put the Ice back in front, when he converted a Jackson Bohan and Waterstreet set up on another shorthanded tally at 13:15 of the second. And after the Valley West’s Justin Sourdif was sent off for cross-checking, Nemethy, a Vanderhoof product, took a pass from Adam Pipe and beat Hawks goalie Jayden Shull for a 3-1 Ice lead.
The Hawks replied on a goal from Sourdif at 3:18, but Nemethy completed the natural hat trick 67 seconds later, tallying his seventh of the season with assists to Pipe and Jared Macasso.
The 4-2 lead looked secure heading into the third, but just before the period ended Tyler Chyzowski scored with one second left on the clock to draw the Hawks within one.
D-man Brett Walchuk scored what proved to be the winner converting a Caleb Concalves and Macasso set up for a 5-3 lead at 12:18 of the third period. Less than a minute later, Valley West’s MacDonald scored his league-leading 22nd of the year to round out the scoring, as the Ice held on for the 5-4 victory.
Kootenay played solid defensive hockey in the third period and stayed out of penalty trouble against an explosive Hawks team that has scored the most goals, 134, in the BCMML compared to 57 for the Ice.
In Saturday’s match, the Hawks, with four-of-five leading BCMML scorers, erupted for six second-period goals on their way to a 9-1 drubbing.
Valley West led 1-0 after one, but a second-period hat trick from Dawson Penner paved the way for the Hawks 18th win of the season. Montrose native Jesse Ihas scored the lone Ice goal, while the Hawks’ Kyle Forbes and MacDonald each tallied twice, with singles going to Chyzowski and Sourdif.
The win keeps the 7-13-0-2 Ice in ninth spot in the BCMML standings two back of the North Island Silvertips, while the Hawks improve to 18-3-1-0, two points up on the Cariboo Cougars for top spot.
The Ice return home this weekend for a pair of games against the 9-10-1-2 Vancouver NE Chiefs. Kootenay split with the Chiefs in their first series. Game times are 4 p.m. Saturday, and 9:45 a.m. Sunday at the Cominco Arena.