The hunt for a BC Major Midget League playoff spot is coming down to the crunch for the Kootenay Ice after a split with the North Island Silvertips on the weekend.
Kootenay got off to a great start on the weekend defeating the Silvertips 4-1 on Saturday, before falling 5-4 on Sunday at the Cominco Arena. The Ice trail the Vancouver NE Chiefs by one point in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We just have to be positive with the boys,” said Kootenay head coach Kris Boyce. “We have four games left, it just makes it a little bit harder losing that game.”
The Chiefs earned a split on the weekend by virtue of a 6-3 win over the Valley West Hawks on Sunday and play the Silvertips this weekend, while the Ice face the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in a two-game set in Abbotsford.
“We kind of put our destiny in our own hands, if we win 3-of-4 we make playoffs,” said Boyce.
Kootenay’s Mason McLeod tallied the winning goal for the Ice on Saturday scoring at 7:06 of the first period for a 2-0 lead with the assist to Quaid Anderson.
North Island is also in the fight for eighth place and trailed the Ice by two points heading into the weekend games, so what followed was two physical and intense matches.
Kootenay came out strong and Simon Nemethy opened the scoring at 11:59 on a setup from Booker Daniel. After McLeod tallied his sixth of the season, Nemethy scored his second of the game and 16th of the season five minutes into the middle frame for a 3-0 lead.
The Silvertips’ Riley Gannon beat Kootenay goalie Jake Kemp to give North Island some life, but Ryan Bennett’s goal at 8:15 of the third from Jared Macasso and Jaxson Waterstreet cinched it for Kootenay.
In Game 2 on Sunday, North Island’s Evan Pattison broke a 3-3 tie scoring a power-play goal at the 11:35 mark of the third and Ethan Jones made it 5-3 just over a minute later on their way to a 5-4 victory.
Erik Delaire scored twice for Kootenay including a goal at 10:21 of the third to bring the Ice within one, but the Ice couldn’t find the equalizer.
“We played unreal yesterday (Saturday),” said Boyce. “I thought we played pretty well today (Sunday), it’s just unfortunate you give up five goals in this game, and if you give up that many goals in this league, you’re not going to win. I thought we outworked them, I thought we played really well, it’s just our penalty kill was not very good today and you know what happens.”
Kootenay’s post season is on the line in the final two weekends starting with Fraser Valley who sit in third place in the BCMML with a 22-12-1-1 record.
“We split with them at the beginning of the year, and we know they’re sitting in third and a strong team but we seem to rise to the occasion when we’re playing a good team,” said Boyce.
Kootenay wraps up it’s regular season on Mar. 10-11 against the sixth place Vancouver NW Giants at the Cominco Arena.