Ice hope to pack the house for School Spirit Night

Prizes and bragging rights on the line for schools that show the best spirit.

The Kootenay Ice celebrate a goal scored against the Calgary Hitmen during School Spirit Night last season.

The Ice host the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday evening and hope to do it in front of a packed house for School Spirit Night.

The Kootenay Ice have been in contact with different schools in the district, and are looking to build off of last year’s success, which filled roughly 3,200 seats.

The team wants it to be bigger and better this year, and three $500 prizes, supplied by Western Financial Group, are on the line for the schools that shows the most spirit.

It’s not quantity, but quality that counts.

Students are encouraged to wear school colours and cheer loud to represent their school as Kootenay takes on the Wheaties.

An anonymous judge will take in the atmosphere and hand out the three prizes accordingly before the end of the night.

Schools have been liaising with the Kootenay Ice office and students can talk to their teachers or principals at their schools to get ahold of tickets at a discounted price

The Ice played the Calgary Hitmen for School Spirit Night last season in March, beating them in a tight 2-1 affair.

“It was a good atmosphere, having all the kids come in make some noise, it adds a lot more excitement to the building,” said defenceman Joey Leach.

“It was good to have them in there to fill the stands for us and it was pretty awesome.”

Sophmore Jon Martin agreed with his defenceman, noting that a loud building gets the adrenaline flowing before and during the game.

“It was great, the atmosphere was great. It was the fullest rink I’ve seen since I’ve been here for sure,” Martin said. “It was loud, the energy level was good, the guys were going because we’re not used to that in this rink.

“It just gets us going, gets us excited to play and that loud atmosphere just really gets us pumped up.”

Speaking of pumped up, the Ice are riding their high of snapping their eight-game losing streak in Calgary on Monday as they shut out the Hitmen 4-0.

Brock Montgomery recorded his first career hat trick and goaltender Mackenzie Skapski notched his second-career shutout, facing a measly 15 shots.

“We played solid and Skapper played solid for us. He made some big saves for us to keep us in it,” said Leach.

“We kept them to the outside and limited them to the outside and limited their chances and that’s obviously going to give us a chance if we can do that every single night.”

Martin credits hard work in practice as the reason that gave his team the edge.

“We came with a lot of energy,” Martin said. “We’ve really been bearing down in practice the last couple days, really focusing on the simple things, doing everything right, communicating and it all just panned into the game.”

The Wheaties roll into town for a double header on the weekend, playing two consecutive games at Western Financial Place on Friday and Saturday night.

Brandon (9-9-2-1) is coming off a five-game home stand, where they won only two contests.

Alessio Bertaggia leads the Wheaties in points, with 25 in 21 games, while the defence features Ryan Pulock, a highly-touted prospect in this year’s NHL Draft.

WHL Notes: The hammer came down in Red Deer on Wednesday, as Rebels’ general manager Brent Sutter fired his head coach, Jesse Wallin, and hired Jeff Truitt as an associate coach. Sutter, who will take over head coaching responsibilities in the interim, retained Bryce Thoma, who is Wallin’s assistant. Truitt has WHL coaching experience as an assistant with the Hurricanes and the Rockets, taking over the head coaching job of the latter for three years before graduating to the AHL for a few seasons. In another big move, the team parted ways with Charles Inglis, who led the team in scoring, sending him  home to await a trade. No explanation was given on the decision to remove the 20-year-old veteran from the roster.