ICE G.M. confident about club without Comrie

By Jeff Bromley
With the loss of ICE captain Mike Comrie to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, many detractors would say it is a blow that the ICE cannot overcome. Not so says ICE G.M. Bob Tory.

Proving the club depth over the weekend double header against the Brandon Wheat Kings, with at least ten regulars out of the line-up, the team managed to capture three of a possible four points against the Wheaties. Throw in another big win with nine regulars out of the line-up against the Tigers on Wednesday, the ICE have begun the second half of the 2000-01 season answering soundly the question of whether or not the ICE will be the force they were in the first half of the season. “Sure it’s a setback when you lose the leading scorer on your team and the leading scorer in the league, but that’s all it is, a setback, you adjust. It doesn’t mean that the team won’t work harder and give everything we got,” said Tory. “I don’t thing anything changes with Mike leaving. There’s some opportunities for some guys to increase their role with the hockey club but it’s no different than when Steve McCarthy got injured last year going into the playoffs. It’s a little bit of adversity and we have to try and deal with it and not let it affect us and I thought we did a good job of it this weekend with the number of guys at the World Juniors, the under-17 tournament and the injuries.”

With Comrie gone to the NHL, it raises some key issues with the ICE. Namely, who’s going to fill the captaincy on the club and, with Comrie being a twenty-year-old player, it reduces the number of overage players on the roster to two, Dean Arsene and Bret DeCecco. Whether or not the club will fill that twenty-year-old spot depends on what’s available and what the ICE would have to give up. “We would have been looking to possible make a move at the trade deadline to make the club better anyway so this doesn’t change anything. It just means that there is an opening there that may or may not get filled. If we think that we can make the hockey team better we’ll fill it or we’ll make a trade but we’re not going to do it just for the sake of doing it,” said Tory. The roster deadline and the trade deadline for the WHL are January 10 and 15, respectively.

If anyone was questioning the leadership possibilities on the ICE, they need not worry. The trade that brought Bret DeCecco in from Seattle now looms as a large insurance policy against the eventuality that Comrie was leaving. In Dion Lassu and Brad Tutschek, there was a lot of ‘heart and soul’ that was going the other way to Seattle. Only now it is evident that this club had lots of the intangibles to go around. With Comrie gone there is going to be ice-time available in spades and there is no shortage of able players ready to step up and assume that role. “He (Bret DeCecco) was a leader in Seattle and he certainly was a leader here and you saw that with all the guys away,” said Tory. “An ‘A’ has been added to his sweater and with the experience he brings, he’s been in the league a long time and the work ethic he brings, now his ice-time is going to change dramatically. With Mike gone, he’s going to one of those guys, along with Beechey, Jaffray and Sinclair whose ice-time changes dramatically.”

The work ethic of the club, due much to the fact of the production and success stemming from the younger players on the third and fourth lines, was not lost on the ICE G.M.. “It’s no different than all our guys. You look at Kyle Sheen, Pat Iaonne and Lance Morrison and all the young kids that have stepped up and played so well. The way Steve Makway has played the last two games has been tremendous and it speaks highly of the character of those kids and their commitment,” said Tory.

With important contributors to the club in Jarret Stoll, Zdenek Blatny, Andy Thompson and Adam Taylor away at various tournaments as well as various injuries to the club, Tory spoke of another player being a contributor to the club – the seventh player – the fans. “I think that it’s important that the fans get behind the team like they were last year in the playoffs and I think that you’ll see the players respond that much more,” said Tory. “We need that seventh player and that seventh player is the fans. The team really needs them behind them, especially in a situation like this with a Comrie going to Edmonton and with the injuries and the guys away we really need the fans to adopt us again like they did before and be loud, be noisy and getting the chants going and the ‘Stew Pot’ and all those things that make this franchise special.”

As for the Captaincy, Tory said that if McCarthy did return from Chicago after the World Juniors, he would assume that role. McCarthy was captain of the ICE before he went down to injury last season. If McCarthy did not return however, Tory has stated that there are an ample number of candidates to fill the bill on the club.

And the demise of the Kootenay ICE without the services of Mike Comrie? Rather, premature says Tory. “There’s a lot of pride in that dressing room and it seems like all year long people have been saying what’s wrong with the Kootenay ICE, what’s wrong with the Kootenay ICE? Last year Steve McCarthy went down and it was ‘They’re done’ and now Comrie’s gone and again ‘They’re done’. We’re still defending champions and before it’s said and done someone’s going to have to take that away from us, as we took it away from Calgary last year.”

Injury Update
– Bret DeCecco is day to day with a concussion. Cole Fischer is out one week with a wrist injury. Aaron Rome is also listed as day to day with a shoulder injury…. The player’s away at the various world tournaments are not expected back until at least the tenth of January.

ICE on T.V.
– Once again CTV Sportsnet is broadcasting CHL games for the latter half of the season and the Memorial Cup. The Kootenay ICE make their appearance on the tube on February 11 against the Hitmen in Calgary.