When the Kootenay ICE finished their 1999-2000
Memorial Cup finalist season, they lost a good percentage of their offensive output when Captain Mike Green (Florida) and line-mate Jaroslav
Svoboda (Carolina) graduated to the professional ranks. For any club, even as one as deep as the ICE, it is a dent on the stats sheet that would
be a heady task to replace.
Well, if forecasts are accurate, consider it replaced.
The Kootenay ICE announced this past week that Marek Svatos, Kootenay’s 47th overall CHL import draft pick and NCAA Michigan Wolverine
star Mike Comrie, an Edmonton Oiler 1999 NHL Draft pick (91st overall) will both be joining the club for the 2000-01 season. For Svatos, a Kosice,
Slovakia native the move to North America a full two weeks ahead of the beginning of training camp will only benefit him in making the transition
to his new Canadian surroundings. For Comrie however, making the jump to junior from the NCAA is more of a strategic move. The fact that
Comrie will no doubt enhance his professional aspirations by making the transfer if only for the fact that the WHL plays almost double the
amount of regular season games (72 as opposed to 40) and the increased ice time will only be to his benefit in trying to make the jump to the
NHL. Mike Comrie’s arrival to the Kootenays also enhances his contract position with the Edmonton Oilers due to a path carved out by Comrie’s
former Michigan Wolverine teammate Mike Van Ryn.
The Kootenay Ice were known as a threat around the
WHL two seasons ago but were ousted by the Hitmen in first round
7 game thriller. A year later they returned the favor to the Hitmen
in the WHL semi-finals by brushing them aside in 5 games.
What was the difference?
Was it the “Money Line” who made the biggest impact. Sure
Mike Green, Jaroslav Svoboda and Zdenek Blatny made a difference
but they were not the answer.
Possibly the emergence of a group of d-men that complemented
each others game better then no other team in the Dub. Once again
the defense were a piece to the puzzle but not the most important.
The answer is a kid from Canmore, Alberta who was turning heads when
he hit the ice in rookie camp.
Dan Blackburn was the Ice’s first round pick in the 1998 Bantam Draft.
He was the highest goaltender ever selected in the WHL Draft when Kootenay
snagged him with the 3rd overall choice. Little did Ice management know but just
2 short years later that baby faced 15 year old would carry them to the WHL title
and a birth in the Mem Cup.
Blackburn made many jaws drop and heads turn as he started to perform brilliantly
in the early games at the Memorial Arena (a.k.a Silver Dome) in Cranbrook
He plays a a cross between a Patrick Roy butterfly and Martin Brodeur paddle
on the ice style that seems to be very effective. Blackburn is always in position Read more»
PART 3 OF 3
Part 2 introduced Brett Thurston and Kevin Harris, two solid defencemen. In this final part on Wheat King draft players, we’ll examine goaltender Robert McVicar.
Hitmen on the Ropes
In the land of make-believe and movies, rarely does the sequel ever live up to the billing of the original blockbuster or the hype of the ensuing
drama posed by the second installment of a hit. If the first four games of ICE/Hitmen II – The WHL Freezes Over, are any indication, somebody
should call Hollywood because we’ve got a genuine hit on our hands.
After gaining a well-deserved split of the first two games of the series in Calgary, thus gaining home-ice advantage away from the Hitmen, the
series shifted back to the cozy, hostile confines of the Memorial Arena. Needless to say, more than 10.000 fans in the Canadian Airlines
Saddledome does not compare to 1703 fans jam-packed into the ‘Silverdome’. No, it does not compare in the obvious shear numbers advantage
enjoyed by the Hitmen faithful in the Saddledome. No, it does not compare with the comfortable seats, $5 beverages and popcorn and a
Jumbotron that tells you when you can cheer. Where it also doesn’t compare is it’s sheer ability to add another dimension to the home team’s
effort against the opponent.
Consecutive sellouts of 1703 screaming faithful (ok, hands up everybody who thinks that just 1703 were crammed into the joint on both nights.
Mr. Fire Chief you can put your hand down) were on hand to witness what was in all likelihood the two most exciting games seen in these parts Read more»
Kootenay over Broncos/ICE – Hitmen Part II
It has been said that revenge is a dish best served cold. Perhaps that dish might even taste better served on ICE. It’s been one year since an
upstart Kootenay ICE club took the eventual Memorial Cup finalists to seven games in the opening round of the playoffs and it looks as though the
1999-00 edition of the ICE are going to be able to add another chapter to the epic known as the Kootenay ICE/Calgary Hitmen rivalry. Hopefully
this time with a better conclusion.
Going into the Eastern Conference final on a high note after overcoming the Swift Current Broncos in six games, the ICE/Broncos series
warranted being a proving ground to test the mettle of the Kootenay ICE players. Having to overcome series deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 against the
Broncos, the team survived and adjusted their game to match and defeat a talented, hard working, well disciplined Swift Current hockey club. A
key adjustment was made earlier in the series after the game one shocker in which the Broncos tenaciously forechecked the ICE and forced them
into bad decisions in their own zone. When they did get out of their own zone they found the neutral zone as crowded as a nightclub on cheap
night as the Broncos performed their own version of the ‘Left-wing lock’ and impeded the ICE’ transition game between the blue lines.
Responding to that defensive tactics of the Broncos, the ICE proceeded to make sounder and quicker decisions in their own zone and got the Read more»