Ice comeback comes up short

Fall to Oil Kings in overtime of Game 1 of WHL Eastern Conference final


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Outplayed and outworked for two periods Friday night, the Winnipeg Ice dialed up some third-period magic to rally from a three-goal deficit to force overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final at Wayne Fleming Arena.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/05/2022 (374 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Outplayed and outworked for two periods Friday night, the Winnipeg Ice dialed up some third-period magic to rally from a three-goal deficit to force overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final at Wayne Fleming Arena.

It was almost enough.

Winnipeg’s Cole Muir very nearly won the game with a glorious chance to score 28 seconds into extra time but Edmonton’s Tyler Horstmann scored the winner 39 seconds later to lift the Oil Kings to a 5-4 victory.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Zach Benson of the Winnipeg Ice chases Edmonton Oil Kings Jakub Demek during first-period action Friday night at Wayne Fleming Arena.

Horstmann’s overtime heroics came after relief goaltender Gage Alexander, pressured from behind by Oil Kings forward Josh Williams, was unable to play the puck cleanly behind his net.

The puck slid out in the slot to Horstmann, who calmly snapped the puck into the open cage.

“It’s bad luck, bad break,” said Ice head coach James Patrick. “He probably didn’t know the guy was that close to him and thought he had more time. Gage came in and gave us a hell of a game. I thought he gave the team life, he did everything we could ask. I know it’s tough on him with not having that much game action in two months.”

Defenceman Ben Zloty scored twice in the third and Owen Pederson’s power-play goal with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation time sent the game to overtime.

Before that, Edmonton sniper Dylan Guenther was the star of the show.

The visitors spotted Winnipeg an early 1-0 lead, thanks to a Mikey Milne goal at 8:34 of the first period, but the Oil Kings took command after that.

Guenther potted his first of the night at 13:08 of the first period. The Arizona Coyotes first-rounder has now scored in each of his club’s nine playoff games.

Markers by Simon Kubicek, while short-handed, Guenther on the power play, and Logan Dowhaniuk, on a delayed Ice penalty, over a span of 6:47 pushed the Oil Kings’ lead to 4-1 after 40 minutes and the Ice looked dead and buried.

Dowhaniuk’s goal spelled the end for Ice starter Daniel Hauser, who finished with 17 saves on 21 shots.

“I liked the first 10 minutes of the game — I really did,” said Patrick. “… I thought we started getting beaten to pucks in the D-zone and that led to them having some extended shifts in our zone. I thought that’s where a bit of the game started turning and then I thought in the second period we just handed them a few goals.”

Alexander, playing in a game for the first time since being sidelined by injury March 5 and was superb, stopped 18 of 19 shots fired his way.

The only obvious blemish on Guenther’s game was an own goal in the third, a power-play goal credited to Zloty, when he redirected a chest-high dump-in past a surprised Sebastian Cossa to make it 4-2.

The Ice, energized by the own goal, buzzed the Oil Kings’ net and Zloty added his second of the playoffs. Pederson sniped his sixth. The three goals came in a span of 4:36.

“Once we got the second goal you could feel the energy and I thought we worked hard in the offensive zone,” added Patrick. “We worked hard to get open to move the puck down. (But) they the are a real good team and you’ve got to put in the work.”

Cossa finished with 22 saves. The Detroit Red Wings first-rounder is now has a 8-0-0-0 career record against Winnipeg and has allowed only 12 goals in those eight starts.

Game 2 is scheduled for today at Wayne Fleming Arena. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Oil Kings are 8-1-0-0 against the Ice in regular-season and playoff games since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg from Cranbrook, B.C., following the 2018-19 season.

Owing to the lengthy road miles logged in the series, the Eastern Conference final have a 2-3-2 format, with the Oil Kings hosting Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Rogers Place.

Games 6 and 7, if required, would be back in Wayne Fleming Arena.

BLUE-LINES: Winnipeg was 1-for-4 on the power play. The Oil Kings went 1-for-3… Three stars: 1. Tyler Horstmann, Edmonton (game-winning goal, one assist); 2. Dylan Guenther, Edmonton (two goals, one assist, nine shots); 3. Ben Zloty, Winnipeg (two goals).

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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