After dropping a 4-3 decision to the Swift Current Broncos 24 hours earlier in Speedy Creek the Kootenay Ice alter ego showed up last night in Medicine Hat and edged the Tigers 2-1.
It's a wonder Coach K has any hair left.
A close game - aren't they all with this club - that saw some stellar goaltending in Nathan Lieuwen and long stretches of play where the Ice controlled the pace and the puck. That and the chances the Tigers had weren't capitalized on.
Brock Montgomery got his 21st on a nice backhand and Luke Philp - good things happen when you go to the net - knocked in his 1st WHL goal on a feed from Jeff Hubic, playing forward once again.
Lieuwen was stellar on a night when those lively end-boards of the Medicine Hat Arena were hopping, stopping 21 of 22 shots and 3rd star honours.
The Ice outshot the Tigers 32-22.
Save for a breakdown late with WHL leading goal-scorer Emerson Etem scoring late with 32 seconds left - how does the league's leading goal-getter get that open anyway? - this one left a glimmer of hope for the Ice to catch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Oh, and the win also clinched a playoff berth for the Ice for the 14th straight season. Something so common around these parts it's not really even news anymore.
Highlites for last night's tilt are here.
Scratches were the same - Wand, Descheneau and Czerwonka (knee - 2-4 weeks). I was a little surprised that Descheneau or Wand hadn't checked into the line-up on rotation of rookies but hey, Hubic set up the game-winner.
With the win the Ice improve to 36-23-4-4 and 80 points, 5th in the conference three back of the Hitmen and five back of the Tigers. Not a lot of room for error but if they run the table the final five games - Medicine Hat, Spokane (away), Edmonton, Calgary and Calgary (away). Home ice isn't out of the question. Lose and, well, Brandon is only 4 points back in 8th. Having Edmonton or Moose Jaw in the first round isn't on the wish list.
The rematch goes Friday at the Rec Plex. Oh and one more thing. Over at Tigers Turf there was a comment on the game, particularly the Kootenay style, and how they play the boring game. It's here at the bottom of the comments. It begs the question though, can the ends justify the means? I guess it does when you win.
And just one more. Chris Moulton, the Spokane Chiefs Director of Player Personel and a Fernie product, is a long-time local hockey guy who has at different times in his career done just about every job there is to be done with the - at that time - Junior A Fernie Ghostriders and now has had great success as a Scout with the Calgary Hitmen and Spokane Chiefs (Two WHL rings and one Memorial Cup). After beating it once back in '02, Chris' wife Shelley was re-diagnosed with Cancer late last year and underwent treatment in Calgary in January. The Chiefs are holding an auction to help out the Moulton's during a very difficult time. It'll be March 10 when the Ice are in Spokane and there's some great stuff - including Kootenay Ice game-worn jerseys - up for grabs. There's more info available here and here's hoping all goes well for the Chris, Shelley and daughter Taylor.
That'll be it for me, live-wise anyways, as I'll be on a beach in the Mayan for a week. I'll check in from there. Back the week playoffs start, let's hope for some home ice as the post-season dance starts March 23rd.