The Major Midget Kootenay Ice salvaged a point from a weekend series in Grand Forks with the Vancouver Canadians and will hit the road this weekend for a crucial two-game tilt versus the Vancouver NW Giants.
The Ice dropped a misleading opening match to the Canadiens 9-3 on Saturday, then took the west coast team into overtime on Sunday where they fell 3-2.
“It was a really good game,” said Kootenay coach Kris Boyce. “We had our opportunities and several chances to score but we just couldn’t score.”
Henry Rybinski scored the overtime winner for Vancouver with 1:16 to play in the extra frame with the assist going to Grayson Valente. The win brings the sixth-place 13-9-3-1 Canadians to within four points of Fraser Valley in fourth place in the BC Major Midget League standings, while the Ice hold onto the eighth and last playoff position with a seven-point cushion on the North Island Silvertips.
In Sunday’s game, the Canadians jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Daniel Pearson. However the Ice fought back and took a 2-1 second period lead on goals from Morgan Peace at 15:36 with assists to Tommy McConnachie and Quaid Anderson, and Jonny Elias netted his first of the season at 3:31, burying a setup from Anderson and Reid Wilson.
The physical match continued into the third, but would cost the Ice when Ethan Jang, who was a force all night, was sent off for charging, while the Canadians player received a game misconduct. With the Ice down one man, Vancouver’s Michael Araki-Young beat Jake Kemp in net for Kootenay with 5:18 to play in the period to tie it and force overtime.
“I’m happy with the way they played overall,” said Boyce. “I mean Sunday’s game was a rough one. As a coach you want them to battle and play through it, and it was good for them to come together after the Christmas break.”
In Saturday’s match, four straight goals by Scott Atkinson broke open a 5-3 game as the Canadians skated to a 9-3 victory. The Canadians forward had six on the night, while Aiden Jenner, Christian Macasso, and Wilson replied for the Ice.
“We didn’t play that bad the first part of that game – for the most part actually,” said Boyce. “But the last five minutes we just fell apart and we let four goals in.”
The Ice travel to North Shore this weekend to face the Vancouver NW Giants, a team that leads the Ice in the standings by just five points.
“This weekend we play the Giants and it’s a big weekend for us. If we sweep them we’re a point behind them so it’s one of those things where you can almost jump into seventh place.”
A rise in the standings would be preferable for the Ice coach as he would rather avoid opening the playoffs against the league-leading Cariboo Cougars, a team that has lost just two games this season.
“Our last four weekends are huge, because we play all the bottom teams,” added Boyce. “If we win we’re in the playoffs, but if we don’t it improves the chances of them catching us. So it’s what we’re gearing for and a couple wins this weekend will put us in really good shape.”