By Thomas Neufeld
The Winnipeg ICE’s week saw them have a weekend road trip out west, with a loss and win to show for their efforts. Coming off a tough week where they were shutout in both of their games and outscored by a total of 11-0, the ICE were eager to get back on the ice and get back in the win column.
Medicine Hat Tigers:
The ICE’s first game of their road trip came against the Medicine Hat Tigers on October 11th
. Returning goaltender, Jesse Makaj, was set to make his season debut in net for the ICE, after coming down with an illness before the season started. The game didn’t get off to the start Makaj and the ICE were hoping for, as the team was down 3-0 before the game reached its midpoint.
The ICE would get some momentum going in their favor when Jakin Smallwood scored his first of the season not long after the Tigers made it 3-1, followed by a Connor McClennon goal early in the third to draw the ICE within one. But the comeback was not meant to be, as Cole Sillinger scored to give the Tigers back their 2 goal lead, and Tyler Preziuso got a late empty net goal to seal a 5-2 Tigers win. Makaj stopped 27 of 31 shots in his season debut.
Swift Current Broncos:
The ICE’s next game would come the next night against the Swift Current Broncos in what turned out to be a wild game.
Rookie goalie Gage Alexander would be starting in net for the ICE. The ICE opened the scoring on Isaac Johnson’s third goal of the year to take the lead, just 46 seconds into the game.
It didn’t take the Broncos long to respond, as they tied the game up just 2 minutes later. Later in the period, the ICE experienced a tough minute, as the Broncos scored 3 goals in under a minute to take a 4-1 lead. Makaj came in to replace Alexander in net after the fourth goal, but the Broncos managed to extend their lead to 5-1 before the period was over.
Despite the large deficit, Makaj would not surrender another goal, and the ICE started a comeback. Two goals 33 seconds apart early in the second brought the ICE within 2, and another 2 goals under 2 minutes apart midway through the third, brought the game to an even 5-5 score. Overtime would be required, and eventually a shootout. Connor McClennon scored for the ICE in the shootout, and Makaj stopped all 3 shots that he faced, and the ICE came away with a thrilling 6-5 come from behind shootout win.
Week in review and a look ahead:
The comeback win has the ICE sitting in a playoff spot through their first 9 games, with a .500 record of 4-4-1.
Jesse Makaj’s first 2 games of the season in net for the ICE included exceptional play in the comeback win, and the team must be encouraged to have him back in net.
The ICE will play back to back games this Friday and Saturday; both against the Saskatoon Blades, whom they defeated earlier in the season in another wild game that saw the ICE win by a 7-6 score