A youthful Major Midget Kootenay Ice squad opened its season on the weekend with two tough losses against the North Island Silvertips at the Nelson District Community Centre.
After strong first periods by the Ice in both games, the Silvertips took control in the final two frames as the Island rep-team beat the Kootenay Ice 5-1 and 10-2 in B.C. Hockey Major Midget League action.
The Ice are bolstered by four players from the Greater Trail region including returning Trail forward Kyle Hope, 16, and rookies Ryan Neil, 15, and goalie Harrison Whitlock, 16, from Fruitvale, as well as Trail defenceman 15-year-old Jeremy Lucchini.
In total, 11 rookies, seven of which are 15-years-old, will lace them up for the Ice, joining veterans Hope, Justin Post, Greyson Reitmeier, Kane Roberts, Brandon Sookro, Lucas Peters, and John Skeet.
Sunday, Kootenay trailed North Island by a single goal after 20 minutes, but two special teams goals in the middle frame by Silvertips Nicolais Gomerich — shorthanded — and Patrick Bajkov — his second of three in the game — on the power play was enough to turn the tables against Kootenay.
Joe Surgenor scored twice for North Island with singles going to Curtis McCarrick, Liam Shaw, Grady McInnes and Trent Bell.
Reitmeier of Nakusp and rookie forward Dane Elphicke of Castlegar replied for the Ice. North Island held period leads of 2-1 and 6-2.
Saturday, McCarrick snapped a 1-1 tie with his first of the season to lift the Silvertips to the opening-day win. McInnes, Jordan Topping, Bajkov and Gomerich also scored for North Island.
Trevor Van Steinburg of Cranbrook replied for Kootenay while Whitlock took the loss in goal for the Ice.
After finishing last season with five wins, 30 losses, and seven ties, the young Kootenay team faces a daunting challenge as it faces perennial powerhouses from larger centres like Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
The Ice has a bye week before returning to action Oct. 6 in Kelowna to face the Okanagan Rockets in the first of a two-game series.
The next home game is Oct. 27 in Trail when the Thompson Blazers visit the Cominco Arena.
The B.C. Major Midget League began play in 2004. The league mandate is to provide the elite 15 to 17-year-old players in the province the opportunity to play against the top players within their own age group. The winner of the league has the chance to advance to the National Midget Championships.
With files from the Nelson Star.