ICE Home Opener This Week/ Rumours Abound

By Jeff Bromley
It’s been thirteen months in the construction stage, seven years in the developmental, planning, referendum and hoping stage and ten long 2000-01 regular season games in the waiting, but the opening day of Cranbrook’s Recreational Complex is finally upon us.

The $22.6 million, 4268 seat facility will host its first event Friday as the 2001 Memorial Cup host Regina Pats are in town to face the Kootenay ICE. The ICE, who finished up a monster ten game road trip to begin the season a very satisfying 7-0-1-1 (before Wednesday’s game against the Hurricanes) will have little time to get used to their new digs as the club will have a one practice in the new facility on Thursday before facing the Pats the next night. After Friday’s tilt against the Pats, Saturday is ‘Raise the Banner’ night when division rival Calgary Hitmen are in Cranbrook. Tickets for both games are going fast and are available by phoning 426-SEAT.

Trade Winds? An announcement this past week that the New York Rangers has sent Jamie Lundmark back to the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL wasn’t really out of the ordinary. Although the 1999 1st round NHL draft pick (9th overall) had by all reports a good camp, the depth the Rangers had at center it was felt that the speedy center would be better served by another year of junior. The plot did an about face when the Edmonton, Alta. native decided not to report to the Moose Jaw Warriors and it was made public that Lundmark wanted to be traded. It was also made public that Lundmark wanted to be traded to the Kootenay ICE, presumably for two reasons; to join a club that has a legitimate shot at going to the Memorial Cup and to rejoin an old teammate in Mike Comrie. Comrie and Lundmark played together with the AJHL’s St. Albert Saints from 1996 to ‘98.

At first thought, the prospect of a player of Lundmark’s stature joining the ICE was and is, tantalizing. Lundmark is an offensively gifted player whose game is well-rounded. The one position that the ICE are in depth at is at center. With Mike Comrie, Jarret Stoll, Pat Iannone , rookie Adam Taylor currently patrolling the middle, the ICE aren’t exactly left wanting. Add to that the players on the roster whose natural position is center, Tyler Dyck (RW) Marek Svatos and the injured Brad Tutschek and you start to get the picture. Then there is the question of what ICE Director of Hockey Operations Bob Tory is prepared to give up in return for Lundmark. Moose Jaw G.M. Ralph Schmidt has gone on record as saying that he is not interested in draft picks and potential high end players. He, along with many others in the league, feel that the Warriors are close to making some noise when comes to competing for the East Division crown this season.

Schmidt wants proven, impact players in return. Synopsis? Although I think that ICE DOHO Bob Tory will inquire about Lundmark, I don’t think that Tory will risk upsetting the chemistry of a team that is playing as well as the ICE are now. If he can get Lundmark for young players or draft picks then Lundmark could be heading for Cranbrook. If not, I don’t think that the deal will happen. Another distinct possibility could be that if Schmidt does not find a deal to his liking right now he could let Lundmark sit until the market turns in the Warriors’ favor.

Trade Winds II – The imminent deal for maligned ICE back-up goaltender B.J. Boxma is still on the shelf but could be heating up soon. With the league’s General Manager’s meetings that were held this past week, trade talks are inevitable and I imagine that Boxma’s name will come up. Bob Tory’s hesitant stance toward trading Boxma is obvious. a) He wants to make the best possible deal for the club, while also accommodating the interests of the player. b) Letting B.J. go is harder that one would think. Boxma has played well in pre-season and in the games that he’s played in early this season. Having a solid goaltender such as mature Boxma back up Dan Blackburn to make their run at returning to the Memorial Cup makes good sense. If the unthinkable happens and Blackburn goes down to injury, handing the reigns over to unproven rookie Jeff Harvey would prove to be a formidable task for the freshman.

Hopefully for all involved it won’t turn into a situation that has been turning into an ugly trend in the league lately. Lundmark not reporting to Moose Jaw. Brady Block (since traded to the Hitmen) and Branden Janes walking out on the Hurricanes, goaltender Marty Maurice leaving the Cougars and demanding a trade. Add to that list Jomar Cruz leaving the Americans, Robert McVicars leaving the Wheatkings for the NCAA and even here last season with the Wanvig walk out. Nevertheless you see the point. Their seems to be an inclination developing in junior that used to be confined to the pro ranks. Let’s hope that the situation surrounding Boxma gets solved before it comes to that.