Kootenay Ice defenceman D. J. Horne scored twice as the BC Major Midget League Ice earned a split on Sunday at the Cominco Arena with a 4-2 victory over the North Island Silvertips, after dropping the opening game by the identical score on Saturday.
Following a “lackadaisical” effort in the opening match, Kootenay Ice coach Kris Boyce said Sunday’s game “was 100 per cent better.”
“Today you could see the guys were fired up to play. It was obviously a huge win for us, because it puts us that much further in front of them. We win one or two more games and that guarantees us a playoff spot.”
Castlegar’s Reid Wilson tallied his seventh goal of the season 59 seconds into the second period to score the winning goal for the Ice. Fruitvale’s Owen Titus sent Johnny Elias in on a breakaway but the Whitehorse product was stymied by Silvertip goalie James Brendeland, only to have Wilson follow up and fire in the rebound to put Kootenay up 3-1.
“We kind of keep it the same every night, show up to the rink and outwork the other team, and keep things simple,” said Boyce.”Lately, we’ve been trying to pass it through the middle too much, so we tell them to use the boards, chip it past the defenceman and skate on it and we’re going to get way more chances, and that’s what we did today.”
Horne opened the scoring at 16:50 of the first period on a setup from Connor Seib and Wilson, but the Tips replied midway through the period when Mattias Dal Monte beat Ice goalie Jake Kemp.
Erik Delaire put the Ice up 2-1 when he took a pass from Simon Nemethy, burst down the left wing and beat Brendeland with a quick snapshot off the post and in. But after Wilson made it 3-1, Dal Monte drew North Island within one on the power play, firing a shot from the top of the circle through traffic and into the top corner at 4:02 of the middle frame.
Two minutes later, Aiden Jenner and Keenan Crossman worked the puck to Horne and the pointman floated a shot through a crowd that beat the screened ‘Tips goalie for a 4-2 Ice lead.
Kemp was solid throughout the game, and made several key saves including a poke check on a breakaway at the end of the second period, and went post-to-post for a brilliant pad save in close to preserve the lead in the third.
“Kemp played really well today, he was kicking pucks out,” said Boyce. “Both goalies, even yesterday, their shots on net, I mean they didn’t have that many, but all of them were quality, and you have to look at that.”
On Saturday, the Silvertips jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Kootenay came back to tie it on goals from Nemethy and Christian Macasso. However, the ‘Tips Joshua Zary redirected a point shot past Ice goalie Jaysen MacLean with six minutes remaining in regulation and Keaton Mastrodonato put one into an empty net with 33 seconds on the clock to ice it for North Island.
“We battled back, and our second period was really good,” said Boyce. “The third we were just battling the puck, and five minutes left they shoot from the point and it get a nice tip in, then add an empty netter for the win.”
The split puts the Kootenay record at 13-18-0-1, 10 points ahead of North Island for the final playoff spot, and seven behind the seventh place Vancouver NW Giants.
The Ice play the sixth-place Valley West Hawks in New Westminster on Sunday and Monday, and with eight games remaining will try to reel in the Giants for the seventh seed.
“We’re trying to change our systems up a little bit,” said Boyce. “All these teams have videos on us, and we’re trying to gear up for playoffs, try some different systems and show them something different.”
The Female Midget AAA Kootenay Wild claimed five of a possible six points in their three-game series against the Vancouver Island Seals on the weekend in Nelson. The Wild beat the Seals 4-2 on Friday, with two goals from Emma Wheeldon, and singles from Abby Webster and Reece Hunt. Kootenay then played to a 1-1 tie on Saturday with Kelsey Patterson getting the Wild’s lone goal, before finishing off the weekend with a 3-0 shutout win for the team’s seventh victory of the season. Hunt scored twice in the game with Patterson adding a goal and an assist.
The Wild sit in fourth place in the Midget AAA league three points ahead of the Seals, and trails the Northern Capitals by just one point. The Wild’s next games go at home Feb. 17-19, when they host the Greater Vancouver Comets at the Cominco Arena.