Impressive bunch at ICE Training Camp ’01

By Jeff Bromley

Impressive bunch at ICE Training Camp ’01

It’s always a treat to experience the first weekend of WHL hockey in town as the Kootenay ICE held their training camp kickoff to the 2001-2 season over the weekend at the Rec/Plex. As an added bonus this year the club held both their rookie and veteran camps simultaneously, offering anyone who was desperate for hockey more than enough to satisfy their craving.

Starting Friday with forty-five rookies split into two squads taking to the ice, anticipation was high for the 200 or so parents, fans and onlookers curious for a glimpse of the future of the Kootenay ICE. Most of the players, born in either 1985 or 86, did not disapoint. Some stood out enough amoung the young charges to satify Kootenay ICE fans that the future was indeed, in good hands. One in particular stood head and shoulders above the rest. Nigel Dawes, a fifth round Bantam Draft pick (73rd overall) in 2000 is a name you might want to familiarize yourself with because after an impressive camp that included a bump up to the veterans portion of the camp due to the domination of the rookies and barring a total colapse, Dawes has all but sewn up a lucrative rookie spot on the 2001-02 edition of the Kootenay ICE. The diminuitive forward, listed at 5’8″ 175lbs, makes up in talent, speed and touch around the net for what may be a perception of lack of size in today’s WHL in which the players seemingly get bigger and bigger every year.

Kootenay ICE Director of Player Personnel Roy Stasiuk agreed that Dawes has impressed at camp. “Yeah, I thought that Dawes has had a strong weekend,” said Stasiuk. “Him along with Dale Mahovsky and Cranbrook product Cody McMullin and goalie Chris LaValley (also of Cranbrook) have had great weekends.”

Unfortunetly the two local products were also cut after Monday’s annual Blue-White Classic but for different reasons that didn’t nessasarily reflect on their play. With McMullin being a 15-yr-old and still a year away from being eligible and the obvious depth at the position of goalie for the ICE, the two didn’t fit into the club plans, at least for the time being.

Other rookies besides Dawes who made the cut and will stay with the club for exbition season at least are defensemen Curtis Fransoo (83) of North Battleford, Sask., Travis Featherstone (84) of Calgary, Alta., Bill Vandermeer (84) Caroline, Alta. and first round Bantam pick of 2000, Dale Mahovsky of Ft. Sask., Alta.

In the veterans department it was business as usual for some players such as Tyler Beechey who started where he left off last season in the scoring department and looks to be more dominant in the offensive side of the scoresheet this season. Other pleasant surprises included Adam Taylor who’s added some weight to his frame and some toughness to his game including the only two fights during the camp. Both with 16-yr-old Michael Salekin who despite his feistiness and all-around defensive play, failed to make the cut. Surprising sniper Steve Makway who looks to have completed the transformation from blueliner to winger raised a few eyebrows with a booming shot and surprisingly soft touch around the net. Makway a scorer. Who would’ve known?

The best player in camp by a country mile had to be second year Slovak, Marek Svatos who looks to have put more moves, speed and puck-handling into his repetoire. WHL pundits should perhaps revise their top five scorer predictions as there should be no doubt that Svatos could contend with the best in the WHL.

ICE CHIPS – Bill Vandermeer is the younger brother of former Red Deer Rebel defensemen Jim…. Kootenay ICE drafted players left for their respective NHL camps last weekend and are not expected back for anywhere from 2-4 weeks. With the New York Rangers are goalie Dan Blackburn and forward Jason Jaffray. Also going to the Rangers are graduated former ICE D-men Dean Arsene and Dion Lassu. Jarret Stoll will be with the Calgary Flames, Craig Weller is with the St. Louis Blues and imports Tomas Plihal (San Jose Sharks) and Marek Svatos will be with the Colorado Avalanche. Svatos will be with the ICE for at least three exhibition games as the Avalanche are playing an exhibition game in Europe and won’t be taking the rookies. Svatos will report to Hershey in a couple of weeks…. After tangling with the Lethbridge Hurricanes for their exhibition opener on Wednesday in the Windy City the return home Saturday night to entertain their arch-rival Calgary Hitmen at the ‘Plex. Gametime is 7:00 PM.