The Winnipeg ICE skated to a victory this past Tuesday against the Prince George Cougars. That was a good thing, but it was definitely a bittersweet victory.
That’s because the team will be without the services of star forward Connor McClennon for the next 8-10 weeks after he broke his collarbone during the game.
The timeline would have him set to return near the end of March, with the regular season coming to a close on March 22.
In the end, however, the ICE must go on. There’s no time to dwell on the tough news as they’re in a tight battle in the extremely competitive East Division.
On Saturday night, the Calgary Hitmen made the trip from Brandon where they lost one night prior to play the ICE at the Wayne Fleming Arena.
The first period was a combination of a hot start from Winnipeg and a tough 20 minutes from Hitmen goaltender Jack McNaughton. The ICE registered three goals in the first as they skated out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes, and they went on to defeat the Hitmen 5-2.
“I thought it was a close game and Liam Hughes was the best player on the ice,” said James Patrick, head coach, after the win courtesy of winnipegice.ca. “In my head, they had more chances than us.”
“Our special teams were really good and our best penalty killer was our goalie,” he added.
Liam did indeed have an all-star type of game as he made 37 saves in the game.
Nolan Orzeck scored his third of the season to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead at the 6:50 mark. Winnipeg’s power play then took over the game, blowing it wide open.
Starting at the 13:59 mark, Michal Teply scored his 15th of the season while Winnipeg was up a man. On another power play a short time later, the ICE capitalized again. Jakin Smallwood notched his 11th of the campaign to give Winnipeg a 3-0 lead after 20.
Winnipeg’s power-play wonders continued into the second period. Peyton Krebs scored his sixth of the season as the ICE took a 4-0 lead at the 4:44 mark.
While shorthanded, Krebs scored his second of the game at the 7:18 mark to give the ICE a 5-0 lead.
Down by that score, the Hitmen needed some sort of a spark and they got one. With 9:05 left in the second, Riley Stotts scored his first of the night to trim the deficit to 5-1. The Hitmen didn’t hit the scoreboard again in the period as Winnipeg led by that score after 40.
In the third, Riley Stotts scored his second of the game and 19th of the season as Calgary brought itself within three goals.
However, that is as close as the Hitmen could get. Hughes was at his best for Winnipeg in the second when he made 18 saves on 19 shots.
“There were some good things tonight, but we definitely have to improve, especially in our own zone,” said Michal Teply after the game.
The win was Winnipeg’s third straight. They’re now 27-15-1 and remain atop the East Division. Calgary, meanwhile, dropped to 22-15-4-1. They are still the top team in the Eastern Conference wild card race ahead of a rematch with Winnipeg on Sunday.
- Winnipeg finished 3-for-6 on the power play while Calgary went 0-for-5.
- Krebs had two goals and also won seven faceoffs.
- Winnipeg finished with 32 shots; Calgary had 39.