WHERE WE ARE AT:
The Ice are now 17-8-4-0 after finishing their six-game road trip. This puts the Ice in second place in the Central Division and 3rd overall in the WHL. The first half of the trip saw them go through Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Swift Current. This road trip saw the Ice play the top two ranked teams in the CHL. The Calgary Hitmen are ranked number one and the Swift Current Broncos are ranked number two (at the time this article is written.) The road trip seems to be where the Ice play their best game having only lost 3 of their road games so far this season. The Ice are 9-2-4 on the road. The 3 losses are to Lethbridge (2) and Swift Current. The second half of the road trip saw the Ice match up against the Calgary Hitmen, Seattle Thunderbirds and the Portland Winterhawks.
POWER PLAYS AND PENALTY KILLS:
The difference in play is strongly evident when you look at whether a team is at home or on the road, or if they are leading the game or playing catch up. When you look at the Ice’s power play percentages, you can see that the Ice are evidently stronger on the road than they are at home. The Ice are 5th in the league with their “on the road” power play, but are ranked number 12th for their power play on home ice. Their penalty kill is very similar. On home ice (9th in the league) and on the road (2nd in the league.) You can thank the excellent goaltending by Dan Blackburn for about 2/3 of the penalty killing.
NEWS & NOTES:
The Ice traded forward Nich Marach to the Portland Winterhawks for future considerations. With the return of many Ice veterans, Nick wasn’t seeing a lot of Ice time. Right now Nick is on the 3rd line for Portland, though he is seeing a good deal of
ice time. When Dean Bueker injured, look for Nick to see some spot duty on the 2nd line as well. Nick is a classy guy and we wish him all the best with his new team.
Captain Steve McCarthy was named to the Canadian Junior Team roster and will be leaving soon for his tryout in Kitchener. What a year for Steve… Playing with the Blackhawks at the start of the season, coming back to the WHL and playing strong and then off to represent his country. What more could a guy ask for?
It seems that Jaroslav Svoboda may be representing his own country at the World Juniors and we are waiting to hear whether or not Zdenek Blatny will also be invited. In the past, you didn’t see the European teams call up players from the CHL, but it seems that this year they will. Could this mean that the Calgary Hitmen will lose Pavel Brendl as well?
Goaltender Dan Blackburn was named both the Goaltender and Rookie of the month for November. This 16 year old is a hot goalie and gives 200% every time he is on the ice. I look forward to watching him strut his stuff for the next few years.
Congrats to the Kootenay Ice for making the CHL top ten list last week. Contrary to many reports… this is NOT the fist time the Ice cracked the list. The Ice made a short-lived (only one week) appearance in the list last year when they took the #10 spot. Last week the Ice entered the list at #10, but after a solid road trip where the Ice went 4-1-1, including knocking off the #1 ranked team (the Calgary Hitmen), I would be very surprised not to see the Ice there again this week and perhaps even higher in the list.
Mike Green now leads the team in career points after breaking the record held by Jay Henderson.
For those interested in watching a game between probably the biggest rivals in the WHL (the Kootenay Ice and the Calgary Hitmen), CTV Sportsnet will be covering the February 20th game at the Saddledome as part of their CHL coverage.
November 24th – Kootenay 4 @ Prince Albert 3
ICE GOALS:Stoll (Johnson, McCarthy)
Blatny (Stoll, McCarthy)
Tutschek (Fischer, Blatny)
Goalie:Dan Blackburn (41 Saves, 3 GA)
November 26th – Kootenay 6 @ Saskatoon 3
ICE GOALS:Stoll (Fischer, McCarthy)
Blatny (Green, Svoboda)
Green (Svoboda, Ferguson)
Green (Svoboda, Blatny)
Goalie:Dan Blackburn (24 Saves, 3 GA)
November 27th – Kootenay 0 @ Swift Current 2
Goalie:B.J. Boxma (31 Saves, 2 GA)
GAME NOTES:Credit must be given to Swift Current Goaltender, Bryce Wandler, (former Kootenay Ice goaltender) for his 2nd shutout. This game proved why Swift Current is in the CHL top ten. Strong play arose from all the Broncos.
November 30th – Kootenay 5 @ Calgary 4
ICE GOALS:Tutschek (Belak, Lassu)
Green (Svoboda, Blatny)
Goalie:Dan Blackburn (27 Saves, 4 GA)
GAME NOTES:A see-saw type of game. The lead changed 5 times during this game and was finally settled when Pavel Brendl tried to clear the puck from behind his own net while on a penalty kill when instead of clearing it down the ice, he put it right off the skate of Mike Green and into his own net. Always a good game when these two meet. The series between these two now stands at two a piece.
December 3rd – Kootenay 4 @ Seattle 2
Stoll (Beechey, Jaffray)
Goalie:Dan Blackburn (29 Saves, 2 GA)
December 4th – Kootenay 2 @ Portland 2
ICE GOALS:Blatny (Green, Stoll)
Jaffray (Tutschek, Stoll)
Goalie:Dan Blackburn (25 Saves, 2 GA)