Nelson’s Dryden Hunt picked a perfect time to notch his third WHL goal of the season. On Saturday night in Cranbrook, the Regina Pats rookie scored the first goal of the game to help pace his team to a 4-2 win over the Kootenay Ice.
Dryden’s marker came at the 18:23 mark of the first period when he one-timed a shot past Ice starter Nathan Lieuwen.
“At first we got kind of caught in our defensive zone, just to get the puck and break out three-on-two,” Hunt told the Nelson Star after the game. “My linemates did a great job of getting me the puck.”
With a healthy representation of Nelson fans at the Cranbrook Rec Plex, Hunt brought many to their feet with the goal.
“It’s one of those things that are undescribable,” he said. “All my family and friends here, being born in Cranbrook… to score that goal in front of all those people. It’s just unreal.”
Hunt and his family moved to Nelson when he was in second year atom. Last season the 16-year-old played with the Nelson-based Kootenay Ice Midget AAA team.
Regina took a 2-0 lead late in the second period when Los Angeles Kings draft pick Jordan Weal beat Lieuwen.
The Ice stormed back in early in the second period with two quick goals to tie the score. First Luke Paulson scored three minutes in on the powerplay. Just over a minute later Max Reinhart brought many of the 2,900 fans in attendance to their feet with the tying goal that beat Pats’ starter Matt Hewitt.
Late in the third period the Ice ran into penalty troubles and the Pats capitalized. Morgan Klimchuk scored on the five-on-three advantage to give the Pats the lead with four minutes to play. With 30 seconds left in the game, Lane Scheidl capped the win with an empty net goal.
The win put the Pats in seventh place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference at a key juncture in the season when a number of teams are battling for a playoff spot. The Past are four points back of the fifth place Ice.
“To beat this team is big for our team, to contribute with a goal makes it just that much better,” said Hunt.
It was night Hunt, his family, friends and supporters will not soon forget.
“This is the most special game of the season for me, no doubt,” he said with a smile.