If there were any reservations left about the Kootenay ICE goaltending capabilities they can be put firmly to rest. B.J. Boxma is doing just fine thank-you very much.
That reality was never more evident Wednesday night as the twenty-yr-old Free Agent turned aside 26 shots and shut-out the Kamloops Blazers 2-0. The victory kept the slim hopes of Kootenay catching the Blazers for first place in the B.C. Division alive as the magic number for Kamloops remains at two Blazer wins and/or ICE losses for the division pennant.
The shutout, Boxma’s fourth of the season and third in the last two months reaffirmed the fact that the reserved goaltender seems to be getting steadily better between the pipes as the season wears on. Better not in the aspect of ability, Kootenay fans will remember well of the Swift Current Broncos’ edition of B.J. Boxma that beat the ICE in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season, but in the department of confidence. Confidence in himself, his abilities and perhaps most of all, in his teammates around him. And in turn, their confidence in him.
It started at the beginning of a topsy-turvy season says Boxma. One that will no doubt be filled with even more peaks and valleys. “When I started the year in Swift Current I got off to a bad start. I didn’t have a lot of confidence,” said Boxma. “When I got traded my confidence went down even more. I was thinking ‘why did they trade me? Am I doing that bad?'”
“Lately it’s been going really good. I’ve had a lot of confidence and the team’s played really well in front of me.”
Indeed, with Boxma’s confidence and success on the rise it bodes well for a club that looks to be clicking on all cylinders as the WHL playoffs approach. From a stellar Boxma to a defensive unit that is now realizing its full potential and value for the club. Even from the offensive side of the ledger, a value hardly left wanting most of the season as Kootenay has been at or near the top of the goals scored column for the better part of the season, contributions are more frequent than a televangelist’s television show.
Exhibit ‘A’ is the success of the unlikely trio of rookie Nigel Dawes in between wingers Richard Hamula and Adam Taylor. A line so successful at cycling down low Wednesday night against the Blazers fans in both corners of the south end of the Cranbrook Rec/Plex would’ve no doubt started complaining of dizziness had the triumvirate not scored. Which they did, twice. Hamula with the first marker and Dawes with the insurance goal. On Sunday night against Kelowna it was the Sinclair – Plihal – Milroy. Before that Mahovsky – Sheen – Agarunov had success on the road. And don’t forget the top trio of Stoll in between Svatos and Norrie.
The fact remains that the ICE are now playing like the deep club everybody’s said they were all season long and it bodes well for the team from the nets on out. “Our defense and the rest of the club has just been unbelievable,” offered Boxma. “It was a big win for our hockey club tonight but when our defense helps out like they did tonight and if I can see the shots then I should be able to stop them.”
Quick Hits – It’s a sad day for hockey when you realize that just how quiet a crowd can be without the sound system of the arena going full bore. For the first period and part of the second against the Blazers there was no music in between stoppages in play due to a problem with the Rec./Plex sound system. It sounded more like a mausoleum than a hockey arena… After road dates in Spokane on Friday and Seattle on Sunday the ICE return home to face the Vancouver Giants for the second and last time this season on Tuesday night.