The Major Midget Kootenay Ice matched its win total from all of last season on Saturday at the Cominco Arena with an impressive 4-3 victory over the defending BC Major Midget League champion the Valley West Hawks.
Castlegar’s Reid Wilson tallied twice and Trail’s Keenan Crossman netted the winning goal, scoring with just 28 seconds remaining in regulation, to lift the Ice to a gutsy 4-3 triumph over the Hawks.
The win is the Kootenay Ice’s fifth of the season and while it dropped the second game 4-1 to Valley West on Sunday, the new program at J. L. Crowe High Performance Academy looks well on its way of meeting its playoff expectations.
In Saturday’s match, West Valley’s Kabir Gill gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead, then promptly made it 2-0 scoring his ninth of the season just 82 seconds into the second period. But, as they have done all season, the Ice mounted a comeback with Ethan Jang converting a Terrell Clarricoates offering at 13:18 and Wilson scored his first of two on the night to tie the game at 2-2 with 11:38 to play in the period.
The Ice looked destined to complete the comeback when Reid finished a pretty play from Whitehorse product Mathew Cooper to put Kootenay up 3-2 with just over eight minutes left in the third stanza, but the Hawks found the equalizer three minutes later on a Calder Newson tally.
Kootenay would not be denied, however, and avoided the overtime period when Fruitvale’s Owen Titus set up Crossman for the dying-seconds winner and stun the defending champs.
The Valley West Hawks reached a couple milestones last year winning the regular season with a 33-6-1-0 record then rolling through the playoffs with wins over the Greater Vancouver Canadians, the Okanagan Rockets and Cariboo Cougars to capture the Cromie Memorial Cup.
Ice goalie Jaysen MacLean earned his fifth win in net for the Ice, while Reece Klassen suffered the loss for the Hawks.
On Sunday, the Hawks took a 4-0 lead in the second-period with goals from league-leading scorer Tyler Ho, Bobby Russell, Aiden Barfoot, and Calder Newson. Castlegar’s Aiden Jenner scored for Kootenay in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback.
The Ice play another tough pair of games this weekend at the Beaver Valley Arena when they host the Vancouver North East Chiefs. The 9-3-0-2 Chiefs are just three points out of first place and are coming off a split with the Okanagan Rockets on the weekend. The Chiefs offence is well distributed with nine players in double-digits for points, and are led by Ethan Leyh with 10 goals and 9 assists, and Haydn Delorme with 18 points. The Chiefs also boast one of the league’s best goaltending tandems with Kolby Mathews leading all puckstoppers with a 2.35 goals against average.
The face off goes at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday and at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday with both puck drops at the B.V. Arena.
Wild Hockey:The Female AAA Kootenay Wild are on the road this week as they travel to Coquitlam to play a three-game set against the Greater Vancouver Comets.