A 6-2 Kootenay Ice win isn’t a bad birthday present.
Peyton Krebs, the team’s super-rookie, celebrated his 17th birthday by scoring a goal and earning an assist against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday night at Western Financial Place.
However, the heavy lifting came from Alec Baer and Martin Bodak, who both scored twice, while Sebastian Streu lit the red lamp for his seventh goal of the season.
Ice goaltender Matt Berlin, who suffered a loss in his debut after coming to Cranbrook in a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds, picked up a win with a solid 21-save performance. At the other end of the arena, Dylan Myskiw made 27 saves on 33 shots for the Wheat Kings.
“I think we played the way we know we can play,” said Baer, who now has 20 goals on the season. “I think that’s when our hockey’s good, when we have all four lines going, all of our D making simple plays.
“That’s a really good team and we took it to them in the first couple periods and I think that’s what we can do with any team.”
Bodak opened the scoring 10 minutes into the first period, trailing the play and wiring a drop pass from the slot.
Though Kootenay got on the board first, Berlin had kept the game scoreless a few minutes earlier with a key save on a breakaway from Stelio Mattheos.
Ice head coach James Patrick praised the performance of his netminder.
“That’s the game,” Patrick said. “Seven minutes into the game and you give up a breakaway. It’s a different game if they have a 1-0 lead. We tighten up and they feel good about themselves right in that instance, so that was a huge save.”
Baer scored his first of the night just after the halfway mark of the frame, sniping a low wrist shot from the point past Myskiw on the powerplay.
Heading into the second period, birthday boy Krebs tripled the lead just 90 seconds into the action, scoring from the side of the faceoff circle on the rush.
Streu was gifted with a gaping cage after some slick puck movement on a powerlay and banged home a shot from the slot a few minutes later.
Baer tallied his second of the night on another powerplay, scoring on a cross-ice feed in the middle of the second period.
Brett Davis posted three assists throughout the night, collecting helpers on both of Baer’s goals.
“The Davis line was real good for us,” Patrick said. “Marty is just continuing from the World Juniors, he’s playing real solid hockey for us and big minutes.
“Those chances weren’t going in for him, but he was getting those chances in the first half and now the puck’s finding the back of the net.”
The powerplay was also clicking, going perfect for three goals in three opportunities with the man-advantage.
“We talk about powerplay, faceoffs and stuff like that I think today was good execution,” said Baer. “I think we were keeping them all keeping it more simple rather than making the pretty play all the time and getting pucks to the net and they were going in.”
Having built up a 5-0 lead, the Wheat Kings managed to get some life from Luka Burzan, who recently returned to the team after participating in the CHL Top Prospects game where he notched an assist.
In the third period, the two teams traded goals; Bodak scored on a drive by in front of Myskiw, while Evan Weinger responded for Brandon, however, the Ice stifled anything the Wheat Kings attempted for the rest of the night.
“I think it was a pretty good game, we played the right way and we won,” said Bodak. “Every guy just played the way we want to play; it was great”
Patrick had high praise for Nolan Orzeck, who has been with the team for the last four days on recall from the Alberta Midget Hockey League and has appeared in two games.
“I thought next to Marty he was our best defenceman,” Patrick said. “He’s got vision, he’s got really good mobility, his defence and reading the play; the amount of times he picked off their plays just by his reads, his one-on-one plays, a couple times he challenged them…he’s been really good.”