ICE Training Camp 2000

By Jeff Bromley
Why do they call it a camp? There’s no
campfires, no wiener or marshmallow
roast, no fishing and the only singing
around the fire you might hear are the
ones singing the blues because they
didn’t make the cut. No, this isn’t your
run-of-the-mill weekend at the lake kind
of camp. Miles of skating, the odd puck
and buckets of sweat – Welcome to ICE
Training camp 2000.

With Rookie camp opening over the
weekend and main training camp for the
Kootenay ICE set to begin later this
week on Friday Sept 1st, the anticipation
will be mounting on a daily basis leading
to the ICE’ first game of the 2000-01
regular season, beginning their defense
of the WHL Championship.

The anticipation level will also be rising
on whose going to make the veteran-
laden club that has as many as 20
returning veterans to the team this
season. Out of a roster of 24 players, to
say the competition for those few spots
on the club will be fierce would be
somewhat of an understatement. Here’s
what we do know. Mike Green, Wade
Burt and Graham Belak have all
graduated onto bigger and better things.
After that, things tend to get a little
complicated. On the European front
things are somewhat clearer. With
Jaroslav Svoboda in Carolina’s (NHL)
camp, it is certain that he won’t return.
Even if Svoboda doesn’t make the big
club in Carolina, it is almost certain that
he will be playing somewhere in the
Hurricanes system. Svoboda’s partner in
crime, Zdenek Blatny will get a long
look in the Atlanta Thrashers camp this
season but should join the ICE sometime
before the beginning of the WHL regular
season Sept 22. Slovak newcomer
Marek Svatos and Blatny will form the
European tandem for the ICE this

Between the pipes for the ICE this
season is another area where the spots
are pretty well sewn up. Last season’s
rookie sensation Dan Blackburn will go
into his sophomore and NHL Draft
season as Kootenay’s number one
goaltender. The back up situation is a
little less clear. Incumbent B.J. Boxma
has stated publicly that he would like to
be traded to get an opportunity to
compete for a starter’s job. When and if
this deal will come to fruition is
anyone’s guess but unless B.J.’s
changed his mind, the back up duties for
this year’s club will open up

Now comes the tricky part of the
equation – the twenty-year-old situation.
League rules dictate that each club can
only carry three twenty year old players
(b.1980). A fourth 20 yr old can be
carried on the roster until the Nov. 1st
deadline. This year’s edition of the
Kootenay ICE training camp will feature
no less than seven 20 yr old players
vying for those three spots. Dean
Arsene, who’s away at Vancouver
Canuck’s camp as a free agent, Dion
Lassu, Brad Tutschek, Chris Chubb,
Stacey Bublitz, newcomer Mike Comrie
and Jeremy Yablonski, if he gains
medical clearance to play, are all
expected to be in the mix at the ICE
main training camp. Now comes the
hard part – picking four (until Nov. 1) of
those candidates to be on the ICE
opening day roster Sept 23rd in Calgary.
Of the seven, Mike Comrie is a given.
Given the hype and hoopla surrounding
the former Michigan star, not to mention
his scoring prowess and lightning speed,
Comrie will be in an ICE uniform this
season. The other three spots, at first
thought, should be filled by returning
vets Lassu, Arsene and Tutschek.
Leaving Chubb, Bublitz and possibly
Yablonski on the outside looking in. But
that is why they hold training camp, so
anything’s possible. What should be
noted is that the shoes of an enforcer,
left by the graduated Graham Belak, still
have to be filled. There are a few
rookies coming through the system that
might be able to fill the bill, but they are
an unknown variable. These next few
weeks will contain some tough decisions
for ICE coaching staff and management,
hopefully the play of the players will
make that decision somewhat easier.

Next week: Rookies, Roster and