Making a case for the Rebellion

By Jeff Bromley
The rivalry is dead, long live the rivalry.
Two different games, two different
cities, two entirely different results. The
Kootenay ICE opened the 2000-01
WHL season in Calgary and Red Deer
this past weekend and on the surface,
things are definitely not as they seem.
The season opener in Calgary was a
textbook display of the offensive
powerhouse the Kootenay ICE could be
this season. Perhaps lending credence to
the pundits, polls and prognosticators
that have the ICE pegged to be the
number one club in the WHL this
season. The result? A 7-2 dismantling
of the Calgary Hitmen. In the tilt the
next afternoon against the Red Deer
Rebels in the Central Alberta city,
someone obviously forgot to inform the
Rebels on the ICE’ coronation as
preordained favorites. Lending further
belief that perhaps preseason predictions
and prognostications are better left to
astrologists and fortune tellers, the
Rebels served notice that they will be a
force to be reckoned within the WHL’s
Central division this year with a 4-3
decision over the Kootenay ICE.
The Hitmen however, was not exactly a
replica of the powerhouse club that has
been evident in the last few seasons as
the line-up was devoid of WHL
experience as six major contributors to
the Hitmen powerhouse of the last few
seasons were still away at NHL camps.
Missing in action were Matt Kinch,
Pavel Brendl, Sean McAslan (injured),
Cory Hintz, Shaun Sutter and Matt
Pettinger. Kinch, the high scoring
defenseman who has been in the Buffalo
Sabres/Rochester Americans (AHL)
camp was released by the pro club and
was sent down to the Hitmen this week.
Look for the Hitmen club that meets the
ICE in the new Rec/Plex on Oct. 14 to
be very different looking team. Elkford
product and Calgary Flames draft pick
(4th round – 2000) Wade Davis provided
all the Hitmen scoring punch with both
Calgary goals.

The Red Deer Rebels provided that
perhaps the Hitmen/ICE rivalry will not
be the best of the WHL’s Central
Division this season. Overlooked as
contenders for the division crown this
year, the Rebels proved that they will
push the Kootenay ICE as title hopefuls
with the number one line of Justin
Mapletoft (2 gms – 10 pts.), Colby
Armstrong and former Kootenay ICE
regular Kyle Wanvig who had two goals
for the Rebels against his former club.
Yablonski a T-Bird – The ICE
announced this past week that they have
traded 20 yr old enforcer Jeremy
Yablonski to the Seattle Thunderbirds
for future considerations. The popular
pugilist, while appearing fully recovered
from a head injury suffered from an
errant puck a year and a half ago, was
simply a victim of the overage number’s
game. Yablonski has proven he deserves
a chance to play in the WHL and with
Seattle he’ll get that chance. I wish him
all the best. With the trade of Yablonski
and the release of Stacey Bublitz to
Beaver Valley Junior B last week, the
ICE overage count is now down to five.
They have until Nov. 1 to pare that
number down to the league allotment of
three.

Steve who? – Trevor Johnson is doing
his best at making the ICE faithful forget
that offensive defenseman Steve
McCarthy is still at Chicago
Blackhawk’s camp. Johnson, an
offensively gifted player in his own right
owned the score sheet in Calgary last
Saturday night by registering five assists.
In the process, the Trail, B.C. native
broke three team records – Most points
in a period (four), Most Assists by a
defensemen in a game(five) and most
points in a game by a defensemen (five).
Injury Update – The ICE lost goalie
Dan Blackburn halfway through the
second frame against Calgary due to a
groin pull. Blackburn is expected to be
out one week B.J. Boxma by all reports
was stellar in relief duty and should
shoulder the goaltending duties in
Blackburn’s absence. This will also
shelve any trade speculation of Boxma,
for the time being.

The ICE are in Kamloops tonight
(Friday) and Kelowna Saturday for
games four and five of the ten game
road trip. Catch the action on EK Radio,
570 AM.