ICE fly in a couple of Birds

By Jeff Bromley
The Kootenay ICE pulled off a blockbuster trade this past week that continues to raise eyebrows around the WHL. In complying with WHL
rules that oblige all league teams to pare down their respective rosters to the three twenty-yr-old per team limit by November 1, ICE Director of
Hockey Operations Bob Tory traded ICE overage stalwarts Dion Lassu and Brad Tutschek along with future considerations to the Seattle
Thunderbirds in exchange for twenty-yr-old Right-winger Bret DeCecco and eighteen-yr-old defenseman Brennan Evans.

Let the analyzing begin.

First, what do the ICE lose? In a word, lots, but in different departments, and in other ways they gain in departments some, save for ICE G.M.
Bob Tory, might never have considered. In Lassu and Tutschek, the ICE lose two players that have been with the club for almost the better part
of four seasons. Lassu’s steady play on the blueline, his stature within his own end and a key ingredient, his toughness will be missed. In
Tutschek you have a player who gives it his all every night without ever taking a shift off, a player whose name is synonymous with heart, grit,
determination, leadership and some clutch scoring.

Realistically, due to the overage rule, the ICE were guaranteed to lose one of them although I think that most everyone was surprised that Tory
made the decision to trade two overage players off their roster, especially two that were such an integral part in the club’s Memorial Cup run last
spring.

So who was coming back? You can bet that jaws were dropping all over the WHL when the five year WHL veteran Bret DeCecco’s name was
mentioned as the head-liner in the deal. On the surface, DeCecco’s name rings equivalent with one thing – scoring. In his continuing five-year
endeavor within the WHL, DeCecco has put up some impressive numbers within the league. 92 points as a seventeen-yr-old, 100 at the age of
eighteen, including 57 goals. In four plus years, the Sherwood Park, Alta. native has amassed 288 points in 254 games. Yes, he’s not exactly a
slouch when it comes to putting points on the score sheet. But what some may fail to realize is the other intangibles that DeCecco brings to the
table. In Seattle, he was known as the heart and soul of the T-Birds. Works hard every night, doesn’t shy away from the rough stuff and plays
well defensively. Sound familiar? It should. DeCecco brings many of the attributes that were lost in Brad Tutschek, with the added bonus of
more scoring.

The unknown quality in the deal at this point is defenseman Brennan Evans. A second year rearguard that was highly touted when he was
drafted by Seattle in 1997 in the fifth round of the Bantam Draft, in 51 games last season he potted three points while seeing limited ice-time.
What the ICE lose on the blueline in Lassu, they gain in potential with Evans. The Camrose, Alta. native is two years younger and has
tremendous size, checking in a 6’4″, 200lbs.

In examining the deal, there was still the lingering question of toughness. Lassu and Tutschek provided a spark in the pugilistic department that
wasn’t inherently filled by this deal. That situation was perhaps remedied by Bob Tory when the ICE announced that they had acquired Aaron
Voros (pronounced Vor-haus) from the Victoria Salsa of the BCHL. Vorhos has good size at 6’4″, 200lbs and finished second in penalty minutes
in the Tier II loop last season. Another bonus the lanky center brings to the ICE? You guessed it. The kid has some scoring touch to go along
with his pugilistic prowess.

The verdict? Obviously we’ll need time for this one, but on the surface it appears that Tory has turned a difficult overage situation into a scoring
bonanza for his club, while potentially shoring up his defense for the future. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be an exiting brand of hockey and
try not to blink, I suspect that the goals are going to coming by the bushel.