by Lisa McRitchie on 02/13/12 at 02:45 AM ET
Following their run to the Memorial Cup last season, the Kootenay Ice have been trying to prove that their success was no accident. They’re succeeding. As the calendar moves closer to the end of the WHL regular season, the Kootenay Ice are one of the teams who have pulled out as a force to be reckoned with. Their defencive play can frustrate and irritate the strongest of teams, and of course they can score.
The Kootenay Ice opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period from Jagger Dirk with assists from Jesse Ismond and Sam Reinhart. Sam is the youngest of the three Reinhart brothers and not draft eligible until 2014. Already with the attention he is garnering it is becoming clear that he will likely be drafted the highest.
The second period was Oilers’ prospect and Kootenay Ice captain Drew Czerwonka’s opportunity to shine as he earned assists on the Ice’s next two goals from Jaedon Descheneau who scored on the power play and Max Reinhart even strength.
Max Reinhart is a Calgary Flames prospect whose goal was of particular interest. Kootenay had been scoring off of perfectly placed rebounds from Hitmen goaltender Brandon Glover’s pads. Glover would make the first save, but the pucks kept bouncing to the worst areas as far as the Hitmen were concerned. For Reinhart’s goal, he scooped up a rebound, skated around behind the back of the net and shot the puck past Glover to give the Ice a 3 goal lead.
With the third goal, Glover was pulled in favour of the Hitmen’s other goaltender Chris Driedger. Neither goaltender could be said to be the backup this season as both have played well. Even now with this disappointing loss, the goaltenders cannot bear all of the weight.
The final Ice goal came in the third period when Joey Leach scored his ninth of the season on the empty net.
The Ice did walk away with the victory, but the real story behind this game were the 45 penalty minutes assessed to the Kootenay Ice and the 91 minutes to the Calgary Hitmen. Trevor Cheek was assessed 27 and Danny Gayle and Rob Trzonkowski 17 each.
What all of those penalty minutes meant was that the penalty box was filled beyond capacity. There were six Hitmen and five Ice players in their respective boxes at the same time. “We had guys sitting on each other’s laps at the start. I looked back and some of the fans were laughing at us. But it was nice and cozy in there.” Explained Oilers’ prospect Drew Czerwonka who was one of the five in the box.
But those weren’t even the most interesting penalty minutes. The team was assessed 12 minutes, a 2 minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a 10 minute game misconduct, both assessed to Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson.
Early in the third period in a fit of extreme frustration Williamson lost his cool and tossed not one, but two water bottles onto the ice and at the ref. No one quite knew what was happening. The first water bottle came onto the ice during play and could have been kicked onto the ice during a sloppy line change, but it had real momentum and slid clear across the width of the ice. When the second water bottle went flying, it was clear what was happening.
Czerwonka explained that they had no idea what was happening either. With the second water bottle, things because a little more clear, but Czerwonka admitted that he had only ever seen something like that on television.
You had to give Williamson a lot of credit for coming out to address the media following the game. Williamson left the bench following the water bottle incident and had time to cool down. But it was clear that he was still quite unhappy.
“It was frustration of a lot of things” explained Williamson. “I don’t think that our hockey team is playing the way that it needs to right now. I think that everything stemmed from that and obviously I wasn’t very excited about the officiating tonight.
Williamson was upset with the officiating, but more so with his own team. “We did a lot of uncharacteristic things today and we have been for a few games here. We’ve got to get back to competing at a higher level but playing more as a group and a team.
“When we were successful we had a lot of guys out there not only competing at a high level winning a lot of battles that we’re not right now. Right now it’s a lot of individual play, not doing enough to win the battle, not sharing the puck.”
When it comes to what was the final breaking point for Williamson, it was a non-call on a mid-ice hit on one of his players. But based on what Williamson commented, the frustration had been building and if it was not that missed call, it may have been something else to set him off.
Ice head coach Kris Knoblauch could empathise with what Williamson was going through. “It can be pretty frustrating behind the bench sometime. I’ve never thrown bottles but I have been pretty frustrated but it’s something that happens throughout the season.”
Knoblauch was calm, and relieved with his team’s play. They did not have the easiest of schedules this week. “I thought that we played very well. It’s not easy playing three games in three days, especially when the third one is in the afternoon.
“I don’t think that we are able to play like that unless we have all four lines going. I think that on Saturday night they were all going so that saves up some of our energy for tonight’s game and I thought that everyone played well.”
The Reinhart brothers continue to make news with their season together playing for the Ice, and although anything can happen before the end of the season, the Ice are hoping to make a repeat of last year. For the Hitmen, they need to, and are looking to re-focus on the road.
For Drew Czerwonka who has had some injury woes this season, it was great to see him on the ice again, and especially to see him help out on two Ice goals.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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