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Ice win Game 1 of first-round series over Prince Albert, Savoie leaves game with injury

The Winnipeg Ice picked up a win in the opening game of their first-round playoff series Friday night, but may have suffered a very significant loss in the process.

During the Ice’s 3-1 win over Prince Albert, forward Matthew Savoie was helped off the ice with a lower-body injury after taking an awkward fall and did not return. Ice coach James Patrick said he is questionable to play in Game 2.

Savoie led the team in scoring with 90 points during the regular season, helping lead the Ice to the best record in the WHL and the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The coach is happy with how the team started their postseason.

“I thought it was a typical first playoff game,” Patrick said. “I thought there was some intensity, there was some nerves, there was a little bit of dislike, some jockeying with lines, but I like how we played.”

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The Ice were the top offensive team in the league during the regular season, but they know it’s a different game in the playoffs.

“We know we have four lines that can all chip in offensively, but defence wins championships,” said forward Jakin Smallwood. “So it’s good that we start in a five-man pack and we can start to chip away on their defence.”

“I don’t want us playing showtime hockey, because it doesn’t work no matter who you’re playing against in the playoffs,” added Patrick “I want us to play a quick game, but I want us to play defence-first.”

The Ice opened the scoring just over 12 minutes into the first period on a Smallwood goal and they would add to the lead in the middle frame on a PP goal from Owen Pederson.

Prince Albert would cut the lead to one early in the third, but just 1:08 after the Raiders goal, Connor McClennon scored on the man advantage to make it 3-1.

Ice goalie Daniel Hauser made 19 saves in the victory. It was the first WHL playoff game for a Winnipeg club since 1983 when the Winnipeg Warriors were a team.

It is the first playoff game and win for the Ice franchise since 2015 when they were in Kootenay.

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Game 2 goes Saturday night with puck drop just after 7 p.m.

In other WHL action Friday, the Brandon Wheat Kings dropped Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Red Deer Rebels 5-0.

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