The last time the Winnipeg ICE played a game was back on Wednesday, February 19. It was on home ice at the Wayne Fleming Arena, a venue in which they have been very good this season. Winnipeg has 20 wins on home ice, more than any team in the East Division. Prince Albert is the closest team with 17. Only Portland (23), Everett (22), Edmonton (22), and Kamloops (21) have more wins on their home ice this season.
Winnipeg only has nine defeats on home ice with their last defeat on February 19 when the Edmonton Oil Kings came to town. From coast to coast, it was all Oil Kings as they handed Winnipeg a 5-0 loss.
“Edmonton is the best team that we’ve played so far. If you don’t play as well as you can for every shift, they’ll make you pay,” said James Patrick after the game, courtesy of winnipegice.ca. “I liked our first few minutes. The game turned into a track meet at times and we couldn’t keep up with them.”
If there was any positive to that defeat for Winnipeg, it was that the team doesn’t have to wait long to try and get revenge against Edmonton. The ICE plays the Oil Kings on Tuesday morning. However, this time the game will be played in Edmonton, who is 22-4-2-1 on home ice this season. Only Portland (1) has fewer defeats at home this season.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, both Winnipeg and Edmonton have clinched playoff spots. The ICE, however, is in chase mode in the East Division. They’re four points behind the Prince Albert Raiders for the top spot. As of this posting, the Oil Kings are 10 points clear of the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the top spot in the Central Division.
One of the problems holding Winnipeg back a bit is its defensive troubles at times. Although the ICE is heading to the playoffs and they’re just four points back of the top spot in their division, their defensive troubles make you wonder how much farther ahead could they be if they settled things down in their defensive end. Of teams that have clinched a playoff berth, Winnipeg has allowed far more goals than any other team: 187. The Medicine Hat Tigers have allowed the second-most at 173. For comparison’s sake, the Everett Silvertips have relinquished just 127 goals. When it comes to the entire league, only six other teams have allowed more goals than Winnipeg.
Winnipeg’s saving grace at times has been its offence. The team has netted 208 goals, the seventh most across the Western Hockey League. At 5-5 in their last 10 games, the ICE will begin things on Tuesday in Edmonton followed by two more road games to end the week.
They’ll play in Calgary on Thursday and Red Deer on Friday. Including Tuesday’s game in Edmonton, the ICE play 12 more games this season. Nine of them come against East Division opponents including a home-and-home to wrap up the season against their provincial rival, the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Going into Tuesday’s game, Isaac Johnson leads the way offensively with 66 points. In net, Liam Hughes has gone 18-8.