Ice have 2-0 series lead against Medicine Hat
For the second time in this season's WHL playoffs, the Kootenay Ice are returning to the Cranbrook RecPlex with a two game lead and a chance to wrap the series up early on home ice.
After sweeping the regular season league leaders from Saskatoon with four outstanding performances, the Ice turned to their round three opponent - the Medicine Hat Tigers - on Friday night.
The Ice went into the first game of the series rested, after having nine days off. They did not seem rusted, however, taking an early 3-1 lead in the first period with goals by Drew Czerwonka, Erik Benoit - their first of the playoffs - and Max Reinhart with his eighth of the playoffs.
The Tigers held against it, however, and tied the game 3-3 after two periods of play with goals by Linden Vey and Emerson Etem. Twice in the third period, Medicine Hat took the lead, but a late powerplay goal by Matt Fraser, his twelfth of the playoffs once again evened the score at 5-5 after 60 minutes.
Going into overtime, the Ice kept the pressure on the Tigers and it was a perfectly executed play and goal by Cody Eakin that gave the Ice the 6-5 win.
On Saturday, Kootenay came out blazing and Eakin was at the forefront of the action, scoring the first goal of the game and contributing assists on the other two Kootenay goals.
Ice goalie Nathan Lieuwen had a perfect night, keeping 25 shots out of the net. The 3-0 win marked his third shutout in the playoffs, a franchise record for one season and tying Dan Blackburn for career playoff shutouts.
Ice captain Brayden McNabb also extended his point streak to seven games with a first period assist. He now holds the playoff franchise record and has tied Cole Fletcher for most career playoff assists by a defenseman at 24 and career playoff points by a defenseman at 27.
The Ice return for Games 3 and 4 at the RecPlex on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets are available at the Kootenay Ice office or by callinf 250-417-0322. The office will be open through lunch.