It’s been a whirlwind week for Jake Elmer. Just two days after finding out he had been traded to the Kootenay Ice, the 17-year-old forward has traveled almost 900 kilometers, left his Junior A team, and will make his Cranbrook debut tonight.
Elmer had his rights traded from the Regina Pats to the Ice in exchange for a ninth round pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft on Monday afternoon. He had been spending the 2016-17 season with the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he recorded 12 points (9-3-12) and 21 penalty minutes in 20 games played.
“[Elmer] will get thrown right into the fire here with such a busy stretch and [he’ll] get a great opportunity to get to know his teammates,” Pierce said on the newest member of the Ice. “He’s really excited to be here and we’ll see what he can bring to our group.”
The Ice have four games in the next five days and Elmer, who just arrived in Cranbrook yesterday afternoon, is happy to have a second chance at making his mark in the WHL.
“I’m very ecstatic, it’s been a dream of mine to play in the Western Hockey League,” Elmer said, 20 minutes upon joining his new team at the rink for the first time. “I didn’t make the cut this year with Regina and was pretty bummed out, but I worked my tail off in Grande Prairie and made myself available — this is a great opportunity for me.
Although he is good friends with Ice defenceman Cale Fleury, the rest of the group, and the team’s systems, are completely new to him. Pierce is hoping to make his transition as smooth as possible.
“[We’ll] try not to overwhelm him early on,” the coach explained. [It’s] very similar to the situation with Peyton Krebs, [we want to] try to keep the game basic and just have some fun.”
Despite going pointless in his previous 20 WHL appearances, all of which were with the Pats, Elmer is confident that he has the skill set to thrive with the Ice.
“I think the ability to make plays [is my biggest asset],” he said. “I’ve been known for scoring goals [and making] opportunities happen in front of the net, and I think I can bring that to this level.”
I haven’t really looked into the team too much, but I’m really excited to come in here and hopefully make an impact and get to know some new guys … I really haven’t spoken to anyone too much and haven’t got to know them too well, but so far so good — they’ve made me feel like family.”
A Calgary native, Elmer is glad to have the opportunity to play in a little more of a southern locale.
“It’s much nicer [here], the drive from Grande Prairie to Calgary is eight hours and it’s mostly the same view the entire time,” he said. “There was actually a blizzard in Grande Prairie [as I was leaving], so it’s nice to come here and not have three feet of snow on the ground.”
As a young player, who has already proven his willingness to work at a high level just to get to the WHL, Elmer should be an exciting player for Cranbrook fans to watch. The city’s first chance to see him in action is a 7 p.m. tonight when the Ice take on the Red Deer Rebels at Western Financial Place.