It's January but it's been mid-March for the Kootenay Ice for a long time. Winners of five straight and 12 of their last 13 including four straight road games and last night's key 3-2 win over the Medicine Hat Tigers at WFP. Every game seems like the proverbial playoff game now.
Jaedon Deschaneau got in on all three goals with three helpers - extending his point streak to 11 games - as did Sam Reinhart with a nice set-up of Kootenay's second goal, a tap-in by Brock Montgomery on the power play that gave the Ice the tying goal late in the second and Montgomery his 20th of the season and 2nd on the night.
Ryan McGill did some line juggling late last night, inserting Luke Philp back on the line with Deschaneau and Reinhart where Montgomery had spent most of the evening. The winning goal, a great shift by Philp, Deschaneau and Reinhart, only to have the latter head off on a change with O'Connor coming on. I thought that Deschaneau and Philp had stayed on the ice too long after a great shift forechecking in the Tiger end but on the Tiger breakout Philp found an extra gear and stripped Miles Koules of the puck and got it to O'Connor, who sent a puck to the net only to have Philp drive the net for the rebound and winning goal.
On the Tanner Faith hit last night, I didn't see it originally but it is here. Clearly Faith is in a vulnerable position but it wasn't from behind. Doty did have to answer to Leach but I think that will be the end of it. I couldn't find video of Austin Vetterl's check-from-behind in the first but he's lucky he stayed in the game. It was an ugly one.
Gotta admire where this team has come from in the last month. It's clear that they believe that they're a rebuilt club now and not 'rebuilding' any longer and can get to the playoffs. After that, who knows?
The schedule doesn't help them in that it's on the road but really, the way this club seems unfazed by the road or an opponent's lead or anything of late, it's clear that the four points to make up on Medicine Hat and Saskatoon for a playoff spot isn't out of the realm of possibility here. Hell, the club is only six points out of 5th in the Eastern Conference and must scare the heck out of any teams in front of them right now.
One poster posted the link that WHL Commissioner Ron Robison was talking about trouble spots attendance-wise that the league is watching. That story is right here.
Robison mentions PG specifically - who just hired former Ice head coach Mark Holick - and is languishing at around 1920 in average attendance. Kootenay sits at 2320 while PA is at 2626.
The streak continues as the Ice hit the road again for a Friday date in Moose Jaw and Saturday in Regina. Four big points that could see the team in a playoff spot at the end of the weekend.