The Kootenay Ice peppered 47 shots on Lethbridge Hurricanes netminder Stuart Skinner on Saturday night, but the Edmonton Oilers draft pick stopped them all in a 3-0 win over the hosts at Western Financial Place.
Jordy Bellerive, Jake Elmer and Ryan Vandervlis scored for the ‘Canes and Ice goaltender Duncan McGovern made 20 saves on the night.
Kootenay’s power play was ineffective in six chances with the man-advantage, while the ‘Canes capitalized once on three opportunities.
Ice Defenceman Jonathan Smart shared the team’s shots-on-goal lead with Brett Davis and Martin Bodak, who all put six pucks on net apiece.
“To me, it felt like there were a lot of Grade-A chances…but I haven’t really seen a goalie stand on his head as well as he did tonight and I’ve played three years in this league,” said Smart. “It was incredible on his end and you got to give him respect for it, but again, we need more people in front of the net, more traffic and we gotta bury our chances.”
Despite the final score, the Ice came out with one of their best starts of the season, launching 18 shots on goal in the first period alone while holding Lethbridge off the scoreboard.
“I think it was our puck possession, but that was all a factor of our forecheck,” Smart continued. “Our forechecking forwards were flying in there, putting a lot of pressure on their D-men, we were creating a lot of turnovers and because of it, we were able to get pucks low to high and play our style of offence.”
The wheels came off in the second period, as the ‘Canes went to work over a five minute span.
Vandervlis opened the scoring, when a shot along the ice deflected off of McGovern’s stick and went top shelf eight minutes into the frame. Bellerive doubled the lead a few minutes later on the powerplay, when his shot went off the post and in for a 2-0 score at the halfway mark of the game.
Former Kootenay forward Jake Elmer finished off a pass on an odd-man rush less than a minute later to throw some more salt into the wounds. Elmer was sent to Lethbridge earlier this year, along with a fifth round draft pick, in exchange for overage forward Alec Baer.
Despite the goals from their divisional rivals, Kootenay continued to lead the “Canes on shot clock in every period of the game.
“I thought we certainly out-chanced them and we didn’t give up that many chances and as coaches, the biggest thing you track is scoring chances,” said Ice head coach James Patrick, “but obviously when a goaltender is playing that well and you get that many shots in the first period, you have to adjust and make some changes.”
Cameron Hausinger and Michael King both felt the futility of trying to score on Skinner as both were robbed of what looked like sure fire goals, however, the wily Lethbridge netminder, who was drafted 78th overall by the Oilers in June, made the saves.
At the other end of the ice, McGovern was also keeping his team in the game, robbing Zane Franklin on a shorthanded breakaway, while also denying Elmer a chance at a second goal on the night.