Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ice in a six-game tailspin

For those who asked, here's a couple of takes on what's happening in Iceland of late.

*Disclaimer* - I'm not covering the team anymore so I don't have, nor do I claim to have, any real inside scoop.

This is just opinion, pure and simple. Take it for what it's worth.

Congrats to G Peyton Lee, a Cranbrook product who moved away at 14 to play a higher level hockey at POE in the Okanagan, getting the win in the nets as the Giants beat the Ice 6-3.

Lots going on in the land of Ice these days, though, for the amount of bums in the seats at the Rec Plex - Western Financial Place for those looking to get some mileage out of the money spent on the naming - you wouldn't know it. For those keeping track the average attendance this season has been 2272 through 11 home dates including the two smallest crowds in the history of the building at 2116.

This is a young team and finally Kootenay won't likely make the playoffs after 14 straight seasons in the post-season, time to deal with it. Hopefully the fans will still hang in there. It's a deep draft this May and a top-five pick will fit in nicely to the club's rebuilding plans.

Projected Top Five Bantam Picks:

1.  Kale Clague - D - Lloydminster Heat
2.  Tyler Benson - F -  Edmonton SSAC Lions
3.  Dante Fabbro - D - BWC Bruins
4.  Sam Steel - F - Sherwood Park Flyers
5.  Jaeger White - F - BWC Bruins

Lots to talk about attendance-wise as always but it's been beat to death elsewhere.

And we move on......

Ice captain Drew Czerwonka's decision to move on with his life and retire from hockey to pursue a career in the Trades was something out of left field but not deep left field. There'd been speculation since before last season that he didn't like it here and was contemplating asking for a trade. Again, that's the scuttlebutt but realistically, it has to be the injuries. I would think that a quality guy like Czerwonka wouldn't bail on a team because of it's perceived fortunes this season. Two years ago he got a championship. Now, they won't likely make the playoffs but any player with an ounce of heart doesn't quit for that reason so I don't buy that. Good luck in his endeavours. Representing many, many tradesmen in the industry I'm in, god knows we need more of them so good luck to him.

As for McGill and his style of coaching. They better get used to it. It's his M.O. and he makes no apologies for it. Coaches are coaches and some styles rub the new generation the wrong way. Suck it up, I guess. As a player, you have to learn to play for different coaching styles or you'll never survive in the game.

I do ask this question though.... anybody seen Elgin Pearce's stats lately???? Hey, just asking. He's sitting 19th in league scoring with 19 points for the Tigers. There'll be a reunion tonight as the Ice are in Medicaint Hat. Dylan McKinlay is 29th in league scoring for the Rockets. Easy with the 20/20 hindsite but on a team that has a tough time scoring, one of them would be nice. Wonder how long the 20-year-old spot will be left open?

Couple of deals made of late though;

After seeing Zach Phillips last night play acquired from the Everett Silvertips early yesterday, I'm impressed. For a conditional 7th rounder? A steal if he can be consistent. He was Kootenay's top player last night, or one of them. He's a big body - 6'4", 200lbs and can skate and distribute the puck.

Jeff Chynoweth a couple of days ago got 18-year-old Austin Vetterl from the Vancouver Giants for 17-year-olds D Kyle Krabben and F Doug Morris. This one carries a bit of weight with it as Vetterl will be expected to contribute now for players that likely would've made the team next year. I thought Krabben was an excellent puck-moving d-man in camp and had him higher than one d-man that made the club. Morris was lighting up the AJHL and also played well here but a case of too much depth in Kootenay at that age group for him to get a chance here. Still thought that Morris was better than either of the Europeans. Not to get picky but if you bring in the import players they have to be Top-Six forwards or Top-four D-men. That clearly isn't the case here.

Okay, some more thoughts:

Don't like Descheneau on the point on the power play. He's too fast and a slick playmaker for that spot. Probably shows the real need for PP quarterback on this team more than anything else. Doesn't have the big shot needed for him being there.

Captain - Leach, Montgomery or Reinhart?

Loved Montgomery's answer to Darren Dietz of the Blades last night after a dangerous hit on his D-man (Wand, I think) coming to his aid but the 17 minutes he was off for the instigator really hurt. Still hate that penalty.

Is it me or has the big start to Jon Martin's season been toned down after the suspensions early on? He needs to play with an edge.

Just a thought but I still think looking into a video clock would improve attendance. Just a thought.

So all the talk about the Blades and the fact they're hosting the Memorial Cup next spring and, really, they're not very good. The oldest team in the league had a lot of trouble with the youngest last night and a couple of inches the other way and the Ice were up 5-2 in this one. Getting Nathan Burns from the Giants will help but Molleken paid a high, high price for a 6-7 forward, at best, with the first rounder in 2014, a 3rd round pick in 2013 AND Travis McEvoy this early in the season. A bit panicky for me. But realistically, this team is going to have to get a whole lot better just to make the playoffs, never mind being embarrassed at the Memorial Cup. If it wasn't for Makarov last night it might've been a blowout.

And finally the Giants are in town tonight for the first time in two years. No word whether they've called up Morris and Krabben to play as of yet but you would think that Giant coach Don Hay would give G Payton Lee of Cranbrook the start. He was called up from Richond Junior B when starter Liam Liston went down in Medicine Hat.

Gametime is 7PM. I'll miss most of it as the Bantams host Spokane at the Memorial at 6PM.


DeeJay said...

Hi Jeff - nice to see you putting some thoughts down again. I have to admit I was cautiously optimistic to start the year, but my hopes are fading quickly. Now that doesn’t mean I won’t support the team - in fact, I think it’s even more important to support them during this rebuilding phase. Speaking of rebuilding, there used to be a saying around the WHL that “Kootenay never seems to rebuild....they just reload!” Well, it certainly appears our two league leading steaks of never missing the playoffs and never having a sub .500 season are in danger of stopping this season.

Points of consideration:
- We are the “youngest” team in the league. Some may argue that shouldn’t matter if your young guns have talent but it does make a difference in the narrow world of Major Junior hockey. There is s a BIG difference in 16 and 17 year old boys playing against 19 and 20 year old young men as opposed to the pros where youth is a valuable commodity. Having said that, we have some great young players who should gel into a very respectable and competitive team in a few short years. The Saskatoon Blades have shown us twice this season already that having a glut of older players is not a guarantee of success either....
Coaching...... Ryan McGill certainly has the credentials but I wonder if his hard line methods aren’t a relic of the past. I remember in his previous tour of duty here that while initially effective, the kids eventually just tuned him out. Time will tell....I really wish Kris Knoblauch and Jeff Chynoweth could have found a way to mend fences but there’s no point in dwelling on the past - Onwards and Upwards!
Part 1 of 2 - apparently I was long winded....

DeeJay said...

Part 2 of 2....
Goaltending - thinking back over the years....we have been so spoiled at the quality of kids we had guarding the nets for us. Pool, Boxma, Blackburn, Glass, Dakers, Bridges, Lieuwen to name a few. We are just used to goaltending stealing a few games here and there and otherwise keeping the game tight. This year we have seen our goalies lifted between periods more often than not. In their defense - they also are young and playing behind a team that is prone to mistakes in their own end. Hard to gain confidence in the current scenario.
European draft - last year we had no import players on the team. Contrary to the opinion of a certain loud mouthed CBC colour commentator - this had nothing to do with Patriotic reasons - there simply were no players available when the ICE picked to justify the expense. I feel so badly for our remaining Euro this year, Jakub Prochazka. He is a 4th line player at best and has been a healthy scratch several times. He skates miles when he’s out there, but never seems to be in the play. I’d be surprised if he’s still here by Christmas. Hopefully I’m wrong and he’ll blossom into another Svatos, Svoboda or Blatny.
Veteran players - the absence of Drew Czerwonka is a huge blow....I wish him well in his future endeavors. I feel sort of guilty in that I expected so much from Sam Reinhart this year - he’s only 17. Yet I believe he has the potential to be a superstar in this league. He is still our number one centre by far and it’s become easier for other teams to key on his line. Brock Montgomery has been outstanding - I just hope he doesn’t fell the need to fight too much - if he breaks a hand....we are in deep trouble. I also expected more from Joey Leach - as a 20 year old Defenseman with his size and ability, he plays a very “quiet”: game - I expected a much more dominating performance from him this year. Other team’s players should be afraid to enter our end when he’s on the ice!

All in all, I think we are in for a trying year. That doesn’t mean it won’t be entertaining....we have speed to burn and a plethora of talented young kids. More specialty team work is needed though - our power play leaves a lot to be desired. Attendance worries me - if we had trouble attracting numbers when we were winning championships.....what will the crowds (and I use the term loosely) look like this year? I just know that I’ll be there - cheering on the boys each night - asking only a solid effort and continuing improvement.

Go ICE GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cheers, DeeJay

Anonymous said...

THE PERFECT ICE STORM brewing. When old school lock horns with new gen something has to give. Here's what i see going down. One player gone others will follow suite. Its the way of the new gen. It happened throughout the league this year already as many 18-20yr olds didn't return to there teams this fall. Old school is great but if you don't win the guys over>>> She's Over, Figure it out soon. This team is very good! Anyone who knows hockey can see that.

ELL said...

Here is one reason I feel attendance is down. Hotshots leaving after 12 seasons. Ice boosted the rent and forced them out. We have a lot of older fans and when you take one of their last comforts away it is too much.

Anonymous said...

The team has nothing to do with their rent. The City does. Same with the concessions.

Cup Half Full said...

Attendance has always been a problem the past few years,off and on. Last year was a great attendance year because we won the WHL championship in 2011. This year, obviously some people don't feel like attending during the 'rebuilding phase'. Unfortunate but that's how it is. Your diehard faithful will stick it out during this rebuilding phase to watch this team develop into an awesome challenging team in 2 or 3 years. I hope the ICE faithful hang in there. On another note, I've encountered many people such as ELL who are under the impression that the ICE set the rental prices for Hotshots, concessions, etc. I've also had people tell me how irritated they are to pay $2.00 to park so that the ICE get $2.00 more on top of the price they pay for tickets. Let's be clear here: the ICE don't set the rent for any tenants at Western Financial Place nor do they get any of the rent money that other tenants pay. The ICE pay rent like any other tenant. They don't get the parking fee money; the City does. Western Financial Place is owned by the City; the City fixes the rent and the City gets all rent money, including what the ICE pay. The City gets the parking fees. The ICE are a tenant paying rent to play at Western Financial Place. It is a business run like any other business. They have expenses like any other business. I think there is a misconception out there that the ICE somehow make more money than just the money they make from ticket sales; that is whatever money is left over after the expenses of running a hockey team. Time to set the record straight. This season ticket holder intends to stick with the team, through thick and thin, and when the young stars on this team become big stars, I will feel proud and privileged that I was there to see it. GO ICE GO!!

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a current Ice player, I appreciate the fans that DO go to the games regardless of the numbers. I have had the pleasure of speaking with a number of season ticket holders who support and cheer on these young men game after game. THANK YOU. This is a tough year for everyone so far, hang in there fans.

katloveshats said...

It is still fun to be at the games and support our boys. My family has season tickets and we cheer on the ICE and enjoy ourselves at the games. My kids just participated in the Pepsi Kids club activity - skating with the ICE on Wednesday night and so loved it. They said it was the best one yet. They talked to the Ice players, skated with them and laughed with them. We have a good group of boys and we need to be there to support them through ups and downs!! Go ICE Go!!

Anonymous said...

My family will also be at every game no matter where we are in the standings, besides every team has their ups & downs eventually. I wouldn't even mind a couple of last place finishes, just imagine what our prospect pool would look like with these next couple of draft years being quite deep (hello Oilers).But a video scoreboard would sure be cool.

Anonymous said...

Season in the balance this weekend with Brandon. Anything less than 5-6 games winning streak now means no playoffs. Don't squander the games in hand boys! Go Ice Go.

Anonymous said...

I agree! But we need help. Bring on Inglis. Ya you heard me.