There’s a new captain in town.
In a special press conference held at Western Financial Place on Monday afternoon, Kootenay Ice head coach James Patrick announced that 20-year-old forward Colton Kroeker would serve as the team’s new leader.
A week after former captain Cale Fleury was traded to the Regina Pats in a blockbuster deal, the organization came to a consensus on Kroeker taking over the ‘C’.
“Cale was respected by his coaches and his teammates and [was] popular [because of] everything he had done for the franchise,” Patrick said. “Once he was gone, it was an easy choice for us because Colton, both on and off the ice, was a big support to Cale as far as a leadership group.
“[He was] one of the leaders in our veteran group [and] I think his experience in the league, how he plays, how he thinks a game and his compete-level made him a unanimous choice when we talked to the coaches and talked to the management staff.”
In addition to the local media, the announcement was attended by the Ice associate coach Jon Klemm, assistant coach Gordon Burnett, general manager Matt Cockell, alternate captains Brett Davis, Vince Loschiavo and Dallas Hines, and former Kootenay Ice captain Colin Sinclair.
— Kootenay ICE (@WHLKootenayICE) November 21, 2017
“This is a storied franchise with great captains before us and now [Colton is a part of that],” said Sinclair, who wore the ‘C’ from 2002 to 2003. “We’re all excited to see where this team goes this year.”
Now the Ice’s director of alumni experience, Sinclair outlined what he believes makes a good captain.
“[It’s] just being a good teammate first and foremost, putting the team first,” he said. “[Then it’s] committing to the plan that your coach has in front of you and doing everything it takes to win.”
Kroeker echoed those sentiments while talking about what it means to him to be given his new role.
“We have such a good group in that locker room that it’s going to make my job a lot easier, I love playing with each and every one of them,” the new captains said. “I just want to keep winning.”
According to the 1997-born Surrey, B.C. native, he’s been waiting for the moment for a long time.
“Ever since I was young, I was dreaming about being a captain for a WHL team,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a high goal and I’m just thrilled to have it.”
Kroeker joined the Ice less than a year ago, coming over from the Lethbridge Hurricanes with Brett Davis in a trade for then-Kootenay Ice over-agers Zak Zborosky and Matt Alfaro.
Previously having been drafted by the Regina Pats in 2012 (seventh round, 134 overall) and played a season and a half there, Kroeker really came into his own after his arrival in Cranbrook.
Finishing last season with 32 points in 29 games, and having so far put up 19 points in 20 games in 2017-18, he has career totals of 204 games, 41 goals and 69 assists.
“I try to lead by example [and] speak my mind as much as possible, especially on the ice,” he said. “I try to lead the way and hopefully I can keep doing that.”
Kroeker will make his debut as the Kootenay Ice’s 22nd captain in franchise history on Tuesday, as the team hosts the Portland Winterhawks.