Something had to give.
The Victoria Royals came into their Western Hockey League game Wednesday in Cranbrook on a five-game winning streak. But the Kootenay Ice had won 10 consecutive home games.
Make that 11.
The Ice defeated the Royals 5-1 before 2,249 fans at Western Financial Place to move to within one of the all-time Kootenay club record of 12 straight home wins established in 2006-07.
“We lost to a good team,” said Victoria head coach Dave Lowry. “They are well-coached, very structured, and they all play the same way.”
Kootenay, however, is below .500 at 27-28-2. But this is a team that was last in the Eastern Conference in December. The Ice have become one of the hottest teams in the league since the Christmas break, having won 17 of their last 22 games.
Victoria (32-20-4) lost for the first time since Feb. 1
“We’ve played a lot of good hockey. But we were a little bit off tonight,” said Lowry.
Seventeen-year-old Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart, a projected high-round NHL draft pick for 2014, had a goal and an assist on the night for his 29th goal and 63rd point of the season. Jaedon Descheneau had a goal and two assists for the Ice.
Steven Hodges, a 2012 draft pick of the Florida Panthers, scored Victoria’s lone goal.
Kootenay goaltender Mackenzie Skapski made 31 saves for the win. Victoria starter Patrik Polivka made 19 saves and allowed four goals. Coleman Vollrath replaced Polivka in the third period and closed out the game with four saves and one goal allowed in 14 minutes of playing time.
“They [Ice] capitalized on their chances and that was the difference in the game,” said Lowry.
Victoria’s league third-ranked power play was held scoreless in three attempts.
The Royals made a player move before the game in signing 18-year-old Isaac Schacher from the Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior League. The six-foot-five defenceman played Wednesday and was the lone Royals player to record a plus rating on the night — at plus-one.
“I thought [Schacher] played well and kept it simple,” said Lowry, who added Schacher will be returned to Dynamiters today.
The other Royals player news revolved around forward Logan Nelson, the 2012 Buffalo Sabres draft pick who looks ready to return well ahead of schedule after missing 22 games because of a lower-body injury sustained Dec 28.
“Logan is real close and will probably play Friday [in Red Deer],” said Lowry.
The Royals now move on to Red Deer to face the Rebels on Friday.
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