The 99-00 WHL season has begun and the Kootenay Ice started off with their third consecutive home and home series with the Red Deer Rebels. In the previous two home openers between these teams, the club who wins the first game of the home and home series has gone on to win the second game. The Kootenay Ice opened their fourth season in the WHL 2-1-0 in season openers.
After a long drive and a full day of shopping, we took our seats in Red Deer’s Centrium. What a step up from Cranbrooks’ “Ice Palace.” Sitting right next to the Kootenay Penalty box, we knew that we were in for some action. Red Deer took to the ice in an exciting fashion, skating out to fireworks that actually resembled fireballs. The crowd was crazy and the players were pumped. We gave our little hoot and holler as the Ice came out, but we were outnumbered by about five thousand. Red Deer was stoked. B.J. Boxma started in the net for Kootenay while Shane Bendera stood between the posts for Red Deer. Not too much action in the first period, it resembled more of a tennis match (back and forth, back and forth) until Tyler Beechey (Kootenay) put the puck home with 24 seconds remaining in the period. In the second period, Red Deer came back with a vengeance netting 3 goals. The first came within 20 seconds and was then followed up with another about 2 minutes later. The only other goal of the period was another Red Deer goal. It was 3-1 after two periods and dejectedly, we went for a beer. The third starts and here comes Beechey again with another goal that made it a one-goal game. Then Mike Green (Kootenay) puts one away with a pass from Beechey. It’s tied now and there is only about 5 minutes left. It looked like it was going into overtime before Jarrett Thompson (Red Deer) puts away what looks to be the winner. We pretty much conceded our loss as the Red Deer fans around us ranted and raved. But wait! Tutschek (Kootenay), on a power play, takes a lead pass from Burt (Kootenay) and goes five-hole! We look at the clock… 36 seconds remaining… now it is going to overtime! The new overtime format is exciting. Each team managed 3 shots on goal, but the goaltending was phenomenal. With a lot of ice to cover, this new format takes overtime to a whole new level. The one thing we noticed is that you see a lot more line changes. So after each taking a point, this is how it looks:
Red Deer Rebels: Justin Mapletoft (2 G, 1 A), Jeff Smith (1 G, 1 A), Jarrett Thompson (1 G), Jordan Walker (2 A), and Justin Wallin, Dustin Paul and Regan Darby each with one assist.
Kootenay Ice: Tyler Beechey (2 G, 1 A), Mike Green (1 G, 1 A), Brad Tutschek (1 G) and Wade Burt, Nick Marach, Jason Jaffray, Scott Roles and Colin Sinclair each with an assist
The stage was set the night before in Red Deer and now it was time for the Kootenay Ice to have home-ice advantage. With a few fights and scrimmages the night before, you knew that it would be a good one this night. The Kootenay players came onto the ice one at a time in opening night fashion. With two players remaining to come out, the crowd started to chant “Belak”, “Belak.” A crowd favorite for his rough and tough style of play, the crowd made it known that this is one over-ager (we have four) the fans want to keep. It was all-Ice this night as the Kootenay Ice’s Kyle Wanvig took goal #1 only 50 seconds into the first period against 20 year old goalie Dustin Schwartz. Before the end of the first Mike Green put another one away for a 2-0 lead after the first. In the second period the Red Deer Rebels ate away at the Ice lead and put in two of their own. Jim Vandermeer picked off a Kootenay pass and shot it right past rookie goalie, Dan Blackburn. With three seconds to go in the second, Regan Darby tied it up. In the third, Jason Jaffray, Jaroslav Svoboda and Brad Tutschek each put another under their belt ending the game 5-2 Kootenay. Red Deer center, Andrew Bergen went down hard against the boards and was later seen on crutches. There is no word yet on his injury. Points in this game are as follows:
Red Deer Rebels: Jim Vandermeer (1 G), Regan Darby (1G), Jarret Thompson (1 A) and Dustin Paul (1 A).
Kootenay Ice: Svoboda (1 G, 2A), Jaffray (1 G, 2 A), Green (1 G, 1 A), Wanvig (1 G), Tutschek (1 G), Stoll (2 A), Beechey (1 A), Roles (1 A)
NEWS AND NOTES:
The Ice play the Prince Albert Raiders September 28th and the Saskatoon Blades on September 29th on the road and then return to play the Blades on October 2nd and the Calgary Hitmen on October 3rd.
Defenceman Jordan Wallin (who is indeed the brother of Red Deer Rebel Justin Wallin) remains off the ice with a concussion.
Ice captain, Steve McCarthy, remains in Blackhawks camp where he put up a goal against Boston Friday night in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins. Reports out of their camp indicate he will be returned to the Ice franchise on or before October 1st when they would be required to come to a contract agreement and put him on the roster.
Ice hopeful David Tanabe may be close to striking a deal with the Hurricanes. Taken from the News and Observer on Sept. 28th, ‘David Tanabe, the precocious, 19 year old defenseman, has earned a spot on the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster. “Our preference is to sign him and keep him here,” general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday. “At this point, he deserves to make the team.” Now the only hang up is money. But it’s a big hang up, and little time remains to resolve it. As a player who has been drafted by a NHL team and a junior club (Kootenay of the Western Hockey League), Tanabe must agree to a three-year NHL contract by 3 p.m. Wednesday or he must play an entire season in junior hockey. The Canes have faxed a contract offer to Lewis Gross, Tanabe’s agent. Gross has been summoned to Norfolk, VA, site of tonight’s preseason finale against the Washington Capitals, for face-to-face talks.’