Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ice take two in the Hat....

I asked the question at the end of yesterday's post if the OT goal Cody Eakin scored would awaken the somewhat sleepy giant, at least offensively, that he's been.

If you watched the game, question answered.

Cody Eakin opened the scoring with the eventual game-winner, Kevin King finally scored and Jesse Ismond made the most of his promotion to the big line as the Kootenay Ice shut-out the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-0 to take a 2-0 series lead as it now shifts back to Cranbrook.

The Tigers have the highlites up already here.

Some thoughts...

The addition to Jesse Ismond to the Eakin-King twosome in place of Steele Boomer who is out after suffering what looks to be a concussion worked like a charm. The cycle was on; the physical game was on; Kevin King was on and Eakin was all-world. The line dominated the Vey-Etem-Tochkin line into submission. Vey and Etem were a combined dash-6 and MIA most of the night.

I thought the suspension to Cole Grbavac would have an impact but not this much. I'd think he'd be back for game three but the WHL has yet to announce the length of the suspension. It was a big hole for the Tigers.

This was an exact opposite of last night's goalfest. Kootenay scored early again, this time at 3:57 when Ismond dished to Eakin who then ripped his 5th of the playoffs. Then Eakin's NHL-type speed created a breakaway that Bunz stopped only to have Kevin King chip in the garbage to break his playoff goose egg and then Eakin fed Antilla for the empty-netter.

Eakin had probably seven quality scoring chances on this night... Finished +3... Moved back to the pivot's position with the Boomer injury and looked more comfortable, more effective and much more dangerous.

The Tigers look like a frustrated bunch and it showed most of the night in their inability to crack the Ice neutral zone and when they did they didn't have a lot of possession in Kootenay's zone. Save for the three power plays the Ice surrendered - and even then not much - the Tigers maybe had sustained pressure two or three times on this night.

Kootenay didn't give up the PP's like they were 24 hours earlier... Nathan Lieuwen was much stronger on this night - just a note on Lieuwen, a post or two ago I mused about Lieuwen getting a pro contract stemming from his playoff performance. On Coming Down the Pipe (over there, on the right) discussing the WHL goalie pool for the NHL Draft, or more specifically how shallow it is, one scout thought that Lieuwen could be the first WHL goaltender taken in the draft this year, as an overager as he still is eligible - automatically - for the NHL Draft as a 19-year-old... The last Ice goaltender to get three shutouts in the playoffs? Dan Blackburn... How much did Kevin King need that goal? Easily his best performance of the playoffs... Sam Reinhart will check-in Tuesday night but I thought Rossignol played well when called upon in a fourth-line role... I like the idea of three forwards on the fourth unit with the last change at home. I don't think John Neibrandt got a shift as a converted forward.

Kootenay's now won nine straight playoffs games dating back to the Moose Jaw series.

Lastly, I'm sure most every member of the Ice remembers last season when they left the Rec Plex up 2-0 on the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs and the subsequent four-game losing streak for a quick exit. Though this is different - it's eerily similar to the Ice-Blades start with the OT win and then a dominating defensive gem to go home up 2-0 - that 2-0 lead last season must be fresh on the minds of the 17 players still on the roster.

Gametime for Game three at the Plex is 7PM Tuesday.


Ice fan said...

The whole team has become a unified force yet to be reckoned with. It's been the best hockey from this team in years...for a rookie coach to bring this out in his first year says a lot about his ability and his rapport with the boys. In Lieu's defence, he was coming off a cold/flu the first game and struggled with fatigue. By the looks of last night's game, he's feeling better. In Eakin's post game interview, he hits is bang on - there's no selfishness on this team - each player wants this as bad for the next guy as he wants it for himself - that is character. You do us proud, Ice!

Cup Half Full said...

I just saw in the Daily Townsman online that ticket sales for Tuesday's and Wednesday's home games are at 2,063 and 2,017 respectively as of this past Thursday. That's not even 2,500 yet for either game. Maybe some people were waiting to see what happened in the Hat in Games 1 and 2. Fine, I'll give them that. But what is it going to take to motivate this town. You would think after the second round and what our team did then, that most people would have been chomping at the bit to get to the ICE office to buy their third round tickets as soon as they went on sale. Sure, this is a last minute town - that's what we are known as after all - but come on already. Get out there and get your tickets. The last time the ICE were in a third round series in 2005 attendance was 3,983 and 4,194 for the two games here. I am throwing out a challenge, here and now, and welcome anyone who sees it here to take it to their friends, acquaintances, famiy, co-workers, anyone you can think of, to up the ante and pack the Plex on Tuesday and Wednesday; that we sell the place out and roar when our team comes on the ice. Ice fan says here that this team is a unified force yet to be reckoned with. I agree wholeheartedly. So why aren't people stampeding the ICE office to buy tickets. All I can say is this town had better get their heads on straight and be in attendance at the Plex to cheer this team on. Watching on the television doesn't really cut it, does it? We need to be there for our team. They are playing their best hockey ever for us; now we need to do our part. GO ICE FANS GO!! Remember this isn't my team or your team; its OUR team! GO ICE GO!!

Jeff said...

Just a note that it was Easter weekend and I don't think tickets were even on sale Easter Sunday or Good Friday. If those numbers are the same as of Tuesday morning, then there could be a problem.


Anonymous said...

As the parent of an Ice player, I want to thank you Jeff for your opinions and honesty all year. I enjoy reading your column and the blogs that go along with it. You are not afraid to state your opinion, or let others express theirs. I hope you continue to share with us in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

I can not wait to see the Ice play the Chiefs in the WHL Championship.......