In front of the largest crowd of the season on School Spirit night, the Ice couldn't find much spirit as Patrik Bartosak and the Red Deer Rebels shut them out 3-0.
The Spokane Chiefs, and their surprising 14-6 record on the season, visit WFP tonight. The Chiefs were supposed to be in a rebuilding season this year but their record so far indicates otherwise.
UPDATE: In a yo-yo, up and down season that is the Ice so far, the club came up with a very complete game against the upstart Spokane Chiefs in a 3-2 win in front of the second largest crowd of the season (2454) Saturday night. Luke Philp, Levi Cable and Austin Veterl scored to power the Ice past the Chiefs.
In another team twist, the day I blog about chemistry between Bozon and Reinhart, linemate Jaedon Descheneau was a healthy scratch as a coach's decision and Luke Philp was inserted on the left side with the pairing. The unit was strong all night and looked to gel. It's a tough call to scratch your club's leading scorer with a tough opponent coming into town and I wouldn't be surprised to see Descheneau on a different line next time he's in the line-up.
Also, local D-man Jeff Rayman, a Fernie product who played with the KIJHL's Ghostrider's last season, played just his 4th game of the season last night for the Chiefs and brought along about 20 friends and family members to watch him play.
With the win the Ice improve to 10-8-2, 22pts and 7th in the Western Conference. One thing going for the Ice and their playoff hopes is the fact the Eastern Conference is somewhat more competitive - or weaker, as some might put it - given that the first place Tigers are only 7 points up on the Ice. Kootenay is in Calgary for a Remembrance Day afternoon tilt Monday.
1. The early returns on the Bozon trade don't seem to be panning out as first thought. It's early so six games isn't a great sample but at 3 assists and a dash-3 given the time and players he's with boggles the mind somewhat. There's clearly no chemistry yet between Bozon-Reinhart-Descheneau or Bozon-Philp-Vetterl, both units he's played with.
2. Since the trade Reinhart has 2 goals and 6 assists in in 6 games, a 1.33 pts/game pace. In the prior 13 games to open the season the projected top NHL pick for June's draft was at 23 points, a 1.77 pts/game pace. Again, it's early and a small sample but some food for thought on the chemistry and point production since the deal.
3. Even defensively, where the club was thought to be extremely thin prior to the acquisition of Landon Cross from the Blazers and import D Rinat Valiev joining the team, hasn't been better by leaps and bounds. Goals against were 2.73/game prior to Valiev joining the club. Since then it's been 3.25 goals against per game. Since Cross joined the club the numbers are 3/GAA before and 3.5 after.
4. Not going to hang the goalies out for the above defensive numbers, from what I've seen this season, they're not a problem, Skapski's recent injury notwithstanding.
5. Big crowd of 2908 last night with School Spirit night. Radio pbp Jeff Holick reported over 500 tickets sold from the local schools, which I suspect was a little higher but would still be the biggest crowd of the season at WFP. That number plus Saturday's 2454 (second largest of the season) puts the average at 2238 through 13 home dates on the season.
6. Even with those numbers the two prior games drew 1987 and 1958, respectively, against Tri-City and Calgary. Tuesday's game against Calgary was the smallest crowd in the history of the Rec Plex and the club is now approaching the old Memorial Arena territory where the first two years of the team's existence in Cranbrook could only draw 1704, maximum.
7. Consistency seems to be an issue with this club given the last three home examples. The home date against the Hitmen Tuesday produced arguably the most exciting and entertaining game of the young season, sandwiched between two duds, at least offensively, against the Ams and last night against the Rebels.
8. If 18-year-old Jon Martin, at 6'2", 212lbs, could play like he played Tuesday against the Hitmen on a more consistently basis - even minus the two-goal effort; I think I counted 7 complete and effective bodycheck's in the 2nd period alone - he would have much more success in the WHL. Named the game's first star, he was rewarded with that effort with some time on the top unit last night. Some Martin highlights of late - including the two-goal effort against the Hitmen on Tuesday and a tussle in Red Deer October 30.
9. The club's in the community a lot as the players were out in force this week in the area schools promoting the school spirit night and now the announcement that the club will play November 23 home date against the Brandon Wheat Kings for Believe in the Gold night to support childhood cancers. The yellow ribbon sticks will be auctioned off and all money raised going toward the cancer charity.
10. Lastly, you can weigh-in on why the attendance has dropped so dramatically over the past four-five seasons. From averages of 2800-2900 five seasons ago to 2200 now. Is it the price of a ticket? Is it the small market? Atmosphere? Do keep in mind that attendance is down league-wide so the phenomenon isn't limited to just Cranbrook. Swift Current's at 2135 through 9 home dates this season and Prince George is at 1628/game through 12 dates. Prince Albert's at 2482 through 11 dates and even the Lethbridge Hurricanes are averaging 3025 through 12 dates given that team's tailspin/trainwreck of late.
OT - Scott Niedermayer will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, the culmination of the arguably the most successful hockey career ever. From Bantam Provincial Championships - remember that was when there were only three levels AAA, AA and A, and Cranbrook was AAA, competing with the likes of Burnaby Winter Club, North Shore Winter Club, Kelowna, Kamloops etc. Much larger centres - to a Memorial Cup, World Championships, World Cup, Olympic Gold Medal, 4 Stanley Cups, Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe - the laundry list of hardware is long...... C Max Reinhart was recalled by the Calgary Flames from the AHL's Abbottsford Heat this week. Here's something to ponder: There's a very real possibility, given the Calgary Flames misfortunes so far this season and the chance they'll have a lottery pick come June, to have both Max and Sam back in the same organization.