Kootenay Swaps Rear-guards at Deadline

By Jeff Bromley

The Kootenay ICE made a case for the defense over a three-game road trip last weekend, unfortunately it just wasn’t a very good one. The Key City club managed a paltry one point out of a possible six with losses against Swift Current and Lethbridge and a tie against the Medicine Hat Tigers and it made their current hold on third place in the B.C. Division a precarious one with the Kelowna Rockets a scant two points back with three games in hand. Being so close to the January 14 trade deadline it no longer became a wonder whether or not a personnel change might happen but rather a matter of when. Just before the 3:00 PM M.S.T. deadline Monday, it did and again it would be a long-time familiar face that would be making his way out of town.

Fulfilling one of his trade deadline wishes of shoring up his club’s blueline, Kootenay ICE G.M. Jeff Chynoweth swapped nineteen-yr-old defenseman Trevor Johnson for nineteen-yr-old rearguard Gerard Dicaire of the Seattle Thunderbirds. It’s a change in venue and a deal that Coach Ryan McGill thinks it will be beneficial to the four-year veteran. “Trevor’s been here a long time,” said McGill the day after the deal was made. “Obviously he was a big part of our championship team and when Steve (McCarthy) went down Trevor took over and he took over at the age of seventeen and that’s pretty commendable on his part. He did a heck of a job.”

McGill was quick to commend his fiery blueliner but admitted that certain aspects of the Trail, B.C. product’s play had hit the wall of late. A fact made more glaringly obvious by the minus-22 statistic in the plus/minus column, something not every defenseman, even the offensive ones, wants on their resume. “I think from both sides (of the deal), Trevor’s and our’s, it’s a good change for both of us.”

Would a change in uniforms perhaps change the direction of Johnson’s game? McGill thought the move would be beneficial for Johnson. “I really believe that,” replied McGill. “This was Trevor’s fourth year here, it’s a small town and he’s very close to his family. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a change in scenery for kids playing junior hockey, especially a guy like Trevor.” Perception though, is everything and the high number of odd-man rushes and short-handed goals against were becoming a problem. Not at all Johnson’s fault entirely but the offensive-minded point-man was taking the brunt of the criticism.

“Like you said, rightly or wrongly, I also heard a lot of criticism from the stands and Trevor’s human, he hears that too. “I don’t think that he was very comfortable with that. It’s too bad that a nineteen-yr-old kid gets criticized for not being perfect. And that’s the bottom line. Some of our fans, whether they like or not have got to relax because this isn’t the NHL, this is the WHL and these are kids – they make mistakes day in and day out – and we can’t expect perfection from them.”

Brennan Evans, himself only fourteen months removed from being traded out of Seattle, knows that there’ll be somewhat of a void in the ICE dressing room now that his former teammate on the blueline is a T-Bird. “It’s tough,” said Evans “Trevor’s been here since he was sixteen. He’s been here since they went to the Memorial Cup.

“It’s always tough when you lose a good guy like Trevor, especially because he was a good guy in the room, he’s close with everyone and he’s a good player on the ice too, so it’s tough to lose a guy like that.”

Evans also talked about the pressure that Johnson was putting himself under as a result of the deflated stats. So much so that Johnson said aloud a couple times that he thought he might be moved. “If you don’t feel you’re playing as well as you can, especially at this time of year it’s always creeping in the back of your mind that you might get traded.

“With Trevor having the bad luck with the plus/minus and things like that and maybe not playing as well as he could’ve,” his voice trailing off. “I talked to him about it before and he wasn’t sure if he was going to get traded but he kind of thought about it a little bit.” Having been a former teammate of the incoming Dicaire, Evans is positive that the impact the high-scoring defensemen will have on the ICE is going to be a big one. “He’s actually very similar player to Trevor,” said Evans. “A real good power-play guy, a second-round pick (Buffalo – 2000) and he can play in all situations. He’s a good guy on and off the ice and he should fit in really well with the guys here. He’ll benefit the team a lot.”

Quick Hits – According to a Victoria newspaper report, the Kootenay ICE are making a serious push to entice the BCHL’s Kyle Greentree, 18, who plays for the the Victoria Salsa and is third in league scoring, to join the ICE for the remainder of the season. The ICE, who hold Greentree’s WHL playing rights are offering the carrot of playing on the top line with Jarrret Stoll for the rest of the season. According to the report Greentree is still undecided because of hopes of playing University hockey in the NCAA at the University of Maine. The WHL signing period for roster additions ends Friday…. The newly acquired Dicaire, from Taylor, B.C., is expected to be in the lineup Saturday when the ICE entertain the Kelowna Rockets in a pivotal divisional match-up. Dicaire is known by the Rockets well as the big d-man was a big factor in the T-Birds’ first round upset of the Division-champion Rockets in last year’s playoffs… Colin Sinclair, who’s missed the last nine games with post-concussion syndrome should be in the lineup for the weekend games against Kelowna and Tri-City. The ICE still might not have a full lineup for the weekend as Igor Agarunov is listed as day-to-day with a hand laceration… ICE-Rockets, Saturday 7:00 PM at the ‘Plex.