The Curtain Rises on ICE 2000-01

By Jeff Bromley
When the Kootenay ICE won the 1999-
2000 WHL championship and
represented the league at the Memorial
Cup last spring, they essentially did the
unexpected. If there is any drawback to
be found with winning a championship
banner it is that what was once the
unexpected suddenly becomes the
expected. Yes they were a great club at
the opening of the last season but there
weren’t a whole lot of people that made
the club their pick to go to the big dance
in Halifax. That tag was
unceremoniously dumped in the lap of
the Calgary Hitmen. And we all know
how that turned out don’t we? This
year, guess who gets to carry the
ominous title? That’s right, the
Kootenay ICE. Add to that the selection
of the Kootenay ICE by the Hockey
News publication as the number one
ranked junior club in the CHL and you
can begin to see where high expectations
develop. Alas, fools and their
expectations are soon irrelevant of
course because that’s why they play the
games.

As the Kootenay ICE get set to open
their season against the Calgary Hitmen
in the Pengrowth Saddledome this
weekend there are still many questions
to be answered and stories to be told as
the ICE embark on the their 10-game
odyssey to start the season.
Roster Update – The ICE scaled down
their roster to 28 players still in camp
this past week as Cranbrook native 19 yr
old Kevin Livingston was sent to Trail
(BCHL) and 16 yr old Mike Lazinchuk
was sent to Dawson Creek Jr. B.
Livingston played well in camp but was
in tough to make the veteran-laden
squad. Injured players Brad Tutschek
(Shoulder) is still three weeks away and
Stacey Bublitz (Back) is listed as day to
day. Tyler Beechey (Foot) has recovered
and will be available for the season
opener in Calgary. Included in the 28 are
D-men Dean Arsene and Steve
McCarthy both of whom are still away
at NHL camps (Vancouver and
Chicago). Arsene is expected to return
and play in the opener but McCarthy
isn’t expected back anytime soon.

Familiar Faces – After reportedly solid
NHL camps former ICE players Matt
Walker and Graham Belak were
reassigned to the St. Louis Blues minor
league affiliate Worcester (AHL).
Former ICE captain and leading scorer
Mike Green was also sent down to
Florida’s AHL farm club Louisville.
Pleasant Surprises -16 yr old rookies
Andy Thompson and Adam Taylor have
fared well in camp and will be the club’s
compliment of 1984’s this season.
However, Forwards Lance Morrison (b.
‘83) and Chris DeCecco (‘82) along
with D-man Steve Makway (‘83)
continue to impress and are hanging in
so far.

The Twenty yr old question – With the
season opening this weekend the ICE
still have seven overage players (20 yrs)
on their roster. Many questions still need
answering. Newly arrived Mike Comrie
(2 exhibition games – 4pts. Played well
on a line with Jarret Stoll) is easy pick
but who will fill out the other two
twenty yr old spots by the Nov. 1
deadline? The safe money says Arsene
and Dion Lassu will round out the
overagers but what of Brad Tutschek?
Due to his shoulder injury he hasn’t seen
much action. When he’s healthy he will
command some attention. Chris Chubb?
A steady d-man whose played well in
camp and has to be given due
consideration. And what of the enforcer
role? Jeremy Yablonski and Stacey
Bublitz both fit the mold but will the
club forsake the tough-guy job because
they’re overagers? Bublitz is battling a
nagging back injury and has seen limited
action. Yablonski is in an eerily similar
position to Graham Belak’s last season –
20 yr old tough guy battling back from
injury to prove he can still play the
physical game – We all know how
Belak’s year turned into a stellar one.
Can Yablonski perform the same feat?
Too many questions – too few answers,
only time will tell.

Rumor of the Week – Disgruntled
Hurricanes goalie Brady Block to the
Calgary Hitmen. No word on who’s
going the other way.

Finally – Instead of hearing the ongoing
question ‘is the new arena going to be
open on time?’ (It is.). Shouldn’t we be
more concerned with naming the place?
I’m sorry, Cranbrook Rec Plex has got
to go. Maybe we should have a contest.
The ICE Palace or something, anything
other than Rec Plex.

Drop the puck, Hockey season is back.