There was a time when the Kootenay Ice couldn't buy a win at the Saddledome.
Now, they own it.
But they own a lot of barns across the WHL these days.
The league’s hottest team beat the Hitmen 3-1 last night at the Dome to rack up their 12th straight victory.
Ice goaltender Todd Mathews made 29 saves as the visitors won at the Dome for the second time in 11 days.
“Lately, our whole team has had a lot of confidence coming into this building,” said Mathews, whose club had lost 11 straight tilts in Calgary prior to posting a 2-1 win Jan. 7.
“We had a shootout loss here, then we picked up a win and now we’re starting to realize it’s not the Saddledome. It’s just another building.
“If we’re going to be in the playoffs, we may have to play these guys, and we might have to win in this building. So we have to learn how now.”
Max Reinhart extended his points streak to four games with a goal and an assist while Jesse Ismond and Brock Montgomery chipped in with singles for the Ice (28-15-3), who now trail the Hitmen by one point for fourth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Brandon Kozun scored the lone goal for the Hitmen (29-15-2), who have lost seven of their last 10 outings.
The Hitmen powerplay was wearing the goat horns last night, going 0-for-7 and failing miserably on a pair of lengthy two-man advantages.
Kozun, who cracked Mathews’ shutout bid with a nifty shorthanded effort midway through the third period, said his club wasn’t their workboots on with the man advantage.
“Any time you get a five-on-three, you’re supposed to score,” the Team Canada world junior winger said. “When you get two of them and don’t score, you’re doing something wrong.
“We’re not getting dirty enough. There’s a lot of rebounds there and we have to start paying the price.”
Head coach Mike Williamson lamented another slow start by his club.
“Our willingness to battle and compete in the first period was our problem,” he said. “We had a lot of guys who tried to take the easy way out.
“We didn’t want to finish checks and we didn’t want to take a hit to make a play.
“We knew exactly how Kootenay was going to play. We’ve seen them enough. They’ve been winning games for a reason and we spent most of the first period in our zone.”
The Ice got off to a good start midway through the opening period. Matt Fraser made a great backhand pass to the top of the crease where Reinhart tapped in his 15th of the season.
The home side had a big opportunity to get back on even footing when they had a two-man advantage for 1:49 but couldn’t get anything going on the powerplay.
The Ice seized momentum from the penalty kill and added to their lead 30 seconds later when Ismond redirected a Hayden Rintoul shot out of mid-air and past Martin Jones’ blocker.
Kootenay outshot Calgary 9-5 in the scoreless middle frame that saw a couple of close calls.
Hitmen centre Misha Fisenko rang a shot off the post and Ice captain Dustin Sylvester clanked the crossbar on a shorthanded breakaway.
Montgomery buried a rebound to make it 3-0 in the third period.
Sylvester had a penalty shot with 2:45 to play but was denied by Jones.