Another late-game goal sunk any hope of a comeback for the Kootenay Ice in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon at Western Financial Place.
With less than two minutes remaining, the Ice were preparing to mount a desperate comeback, however, a shot from the point slipped past goaltender Duncan McGovern killed any momentum for a late game push.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances and we didn’t take advantage of the powerplays we got,” said Ice head coach James Patrick. “Their goalie saw every shot and every one of their goals they got someone in front of our goalie and every chance we had, it was five guys on the perimeter. We just played extremely soft when it came down to it.
“They were the harder team.”
It was a frustrating result for the team considering they put 39 shots on goal without getting much past goaltender Reece Klassen. Compounding the frustration was a 5-2 loss to the ‘Canes the night before in Lethbridge, while Red Deer keeps picking up wins and has jumped past Kootenay for the last divisional playoff spot.
Kootenay’s lone goal came off a five-minute major powerplay, but the team had five chances to score with the man-advantage.
“I thought we had some really good looks,” said Patrick. “There’s chances where we got one chance and were fighting for the second chance, and just didn’t have the hands maybe to make some finishing plays.
Kootenay had some jump in their game to start the affair, handily outshooting the ‘Canes thanks to some sustained offensive pressure and a powerplay. However, Lethbridge caught up on the shot clock by the end of the frame.
Less than 30 seconds into the middle period, Jordy Bellerive put the ‘Canes ahead on a snipe from the slot. Less than two minutes later, Ty Prefontaine beat McGovern from the point to double the lead.
While cutting into the offensive zone, Bradley Ginnell took a big open ice hit to the head from Calen Addison, who got tagged with a five-minute major penalty and a trip to the dressing room for the rest of the night.
Kootenay’s only goal of the night came off that major powerplay, as Kroeker found Veloso behind the net, who made no mistake for a quick tap in.
With five powerplay opportunities on the night, Patrick singled out the need to get pucks on net as soon as it hits the tape off a faceoff win.
“It’s something [assistant coach] Jon Klemm talks every day with our defencemen about and gets so upset with them and we still stickhandle when we get an opportunity like that,” said Patrick. “You watch an NHL player and it’s on their tape and on the net in a half a second, quarter of a second, so that’s really frustrating.”
Kootenay outshot the ‘Canes in both the second and third periods, but couldn’t find the equalizer, even with three powerplay opportunities in the final frame.
Desperate to find a tying goal, it was Lethbridge who pulled ahead with less than two minutes left in the game on a shot from Morrison at the point. Taylor Ross tallied an empty netter 20 seconds later to salt the game away.
It’ll be a tight finish in the Central Division playoff race as the Rebels have overtaken the Ice for the final playoff spot and are ahead by two points with a game in hand. The teams will meet three more times before the end of the regular season on March 18th.