CRANBROOK, B.C. - Michael Stickland exploded for four goals to lead the Kootenay Ice to a 4-2 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League regular-season opener Thursday night.
Stickland, a third-year forward, had two goals in the second period and completed the hat trick with the power-play game winner at 1:14 of the third period. The Red Deer, Alta., native, who scored 22 goals in 71 games last season, added his fourth into the empty net with 26 seconds left to ice the victory for Kootenay (1-0-0-0).
Andrew Bailey, Dominik Pacovsky and Steele Boomer each added a pair of assists for the Ice.
Mitch Wahl and Jared Cowen replied for the defending WHL-champion Chiefs (0-1-0-0).
Stickland opened the scoring on a partial breakaway at 4:24 of the second period, firing a shot that hit the cross bar and trickled across the line. He made it 2-0 on a power-play at 7:42, as he was left alone in front of the net and converted a pass from Boomer.
Cowen cut the lead 1:06 later, redirecting a Blake Gal shot into the net. Spokane evened the score at 12:54 of the second period as Wahl found a bouncing puck near the crease and redirected it into the net.
WHL commissioner Ron Robison announced that the 2008-09 season will be dedicated in the honour of Ed Chynoweth, who passed away in April 2008.
Chynoweth was the principle builder of major junior hockey in Canada as president of the WHL and CHL over the past four decades. Throughout the season all players and officials will display a decal on their helmets with the letters EC.
A special tribute involving members of the Chynoweth family took place prior to the game.