The Major Midget Kootenay Ice prepare to take on the Thompson Blazers this weekend in Cranbrook.

The Major Midget Kootenay Ice prepare to take on the Thompson Blazers this weekend in Cranbrook.

Major Midget Kootenay Ice win in OT, face Blazers next

An overtime goal by Christian Macasso and a hat trick from Ethan Jang helped the Kootenay Ice split their matches on the weekend.

Kootenay Ice forward Christian Macasso scored the winning goal in overtime and Ethan Jang netted a natural hat trick on Sunday to lead the Ice to a 5-4 victory over the South Island Royals and earn a split in BC Major Midget Hockey action on the weekend.

The Ice bounced back from a 3-0 loss to the Royals on Saturday, and salvaged two points with a dramatic OT win on Sunday.

“The first game we didn’t come out very well, we didn’t have our legs,” said Kootenay Ice head coach Kris Boyce. “The other team came out and really wanted to beat us, and you could really tell that we just couldn’t get anything going … The second game we took it to them the whole game. The goals they scored they did on a few rushes, but we really didn’t give them much as far as chances.”

Christian Macasso scored on a great individual effort at 3:33 of the 3-on-3, five-minute OT period. After the Royals’ Brendan Martin tied the game with just 11 seconds left on the clock to force the extra frame, Macasso skated in with Trail native Tommie McConnachie on a 2-on-0, kept and wired a snap shot off the crossbar and in to win the game for the Ice.

“It was a group effort from me, Mathew Cooper, and Tommie McConnachie,” said Macasso. “We were hemming them in their zone, and we really kept going in waves and waves until they coughed up the puck. The play before that Tommie went off the bar, then we got another breakaway and made no mistake.”

The victory keeps the Ice in eighth place with a 7-11-0 record, six-points up on ninth-place Thompson Blazers, and five points back of the Vancouver NW Giants.

Castlegar’s Aiden Jenner started the scoring for the Ice on a set up from Macasso at 12:29 of the first period. However, Evan Easton tied it just 52 seconds into the middle frame before Jang took over the show. The Rossland product made it 2-1 with an assist to pointman Cooper midway through the period, and scored again four minutes later banging in a loose puck on a scramble in front.

“He (Jang) is the type of kid who’s in the right place at the right time,” said Boyce. “All three goals were kind of scramble plays around the net and he was just on the side and buried it into the open net.”

The Royals got one back when Hunter Gruber beat Jaysen MacLean at 4:41 to make it 3-2, but Jang notched his third of the period and ninth of the season on a play from Ice defenceman Kody Stewart to make it 4-2 heading into the third.

The Royals battled back in the third frame with Martin drawing Vancouver Island within one at 12:32 and then tying it in the final seconds.

Macasso won it with his fifth goal of the season and 14th point less than 90 seconds into the overtime period, finishing the game with a goal and two assists. The second-year forward played on both sides of the Major Midget Ice experience skating for the team before it became part of the J. L. Crowe High Performance Hockey Academy this season.

“It’s night and day, the whole team, everything has changed from the perspective of playing, to coaching, to systems to just the mentality of the team, it’s all changed,” said Macasso. “It was tough traveling (to Nelson) three hours a day for a practice, so this (having the team at Crowe) is really helpful, and this way you get to know everyone because they’re all living in the same area and going to school and it helps a lot.”

The Ice will face the 4-14-0-0 Thompson Blazers out of Kamloops this weekend. Although the Blazers trail the Ice in points, Thompson is coming off a massive adrenaline rush with two victories over the second-place Okanagan Rockets last weekend.

“We can’t go in thinking that it’s going to be an easy win even though they’re below us in the standings,” said Boyce. “They’re going to be high so we have to be ready to play.”

This weekend’s games go in Cranbrook at Western Financial Place, home of the WHL Kootenay Ice, at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday.

Wild Notes: The Female Midget AAA Kootenay Wild ended up deadlocked with Thompson-Okanagan Lakers in 2-of-3 weekend games played at home rinks. The Wild skated to a 4-4 tie with the Lakers in Friday’s match in Grand Forks, and a 3-3 draw at the Cominco Arena on Saturday, before falling 3-1 in Beaver Valley on Sunday.