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This article was published 20/11/2021 (187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Ice were at it again Saturday night.
Winners for the 19th time in 20 games, the WHL's hottest team scored in each period on the way to a 4-2 triumph over the host Medicine Hat Tigers before 2,632 spectators at Co-op Place.
Matt Savoie scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season, Zach Benson with his 11th, and Jakin Smallwood with his 10th provided the offence as the Ice surged to their eighth consecutive victory.
It was another excellent performance from 17-year-old Ice goaltender Daniel Hauser, who stopped 24 shots and came close to his third shutout in his last four starts.
Medicine Hat's Teague Patton broke Hauser's no-no bid with 4:37 left in the game. Owen MacNeil added another goal for the Tigers with 88 seconds remaining.
Being part of a juggernaut like the current Ice squad is a reminder of past glories for Winnipeg head coach James Patrick.
In 1980-81, he was a rookie defenceman with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders who lost for the first time in Game 10 of the regular season before going on to post an incredible 50-7-3-0 regular-season record en route to winning a Centennial Cup national junior A title.
A lasting memory for Patrick — and a story he has told to his current team — was then Raiders head coach Terry Simpson's reaction to the first loss.
"I was shocked into the reality of the sports world as a 17-year-old player, thinking, 'Hey, we only lost one,' that was my mindset," said Patrick prior to Saturday's game. "And he wiped that out of my memory bank because he was enraged that we had lost at home and how we lost… He was yelling, screaming and on the verge of tears. I just remember it was a shock to me."
Patrick has high regard for Simpson, calling him, "the most straight shooting, honest coach I ever played for," but his reaction to the Ice's first loss in the 12th game — a 3-1 decision to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Oct. 29 — was more reserved than his mentor.
"I didn't yell at them but I still don't want us accepting it," said Patrick. "I don't want us saying that this is OK. I don't want that mindset."
The high expectations that accompany the club's win streaks have been tempered by injuries, often to key players. First-line left-winger Owen Pederson did not accompany the team on the two-game road swing and he missed his sixth game with an upper-body injury while star defenceman Carson Lambos left Friday's game in Swift Current with an unspecified ailment and did not play against the Tigers. His status is unknown.
The Ice dressed only five blue-liners: Owen Boucher, Nolan Orzeck, Ben Zloty, Max Struele and Karter Prosofsky.
"Injuries are gonna happen and I think we have the reason for our success has been our depth," said Patrick, who called Pederson's status week-to-week. "We've been able to find a way to overcome them and we'll just have to keep doing it until we get healthy. Owen's been been real important for us and he's a big body to play that those type of games, especially on the road."
The Tigers, who dropped to 4-9-3-1, lost for ninth consecutive time. Garin Bjorklund stopped 28 shots in the Medicine Hat net.
BLUE-LINES: Ty Fraser played made his WHL debut for the Ice Saturday. The 16-year-old from Raymond, Alta., was Winnipeg's fifth-round pick in the 2020 WHL Draft... Aiden Oiring, the Ice's third-round pick from 2020, played his third game for Winnipeg since being recalled from the South Alberta Hockey Academy U18 Prep team... The Ice was scoreless in two chances on the power play. Medicine Hat was 0-for-2... Three stars: 1. Matt Savoie, Winnipeg (two goals); 2. Zach Benson, Winnipeg (one goal, one assist); 3. Connor McClennon, Winnipeg (two assists).
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.