Kootenay Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth has released the team’s roster for exhibition play, naming 27 players including 15 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders.
The announcement was made immediately following Sunday afternoon’s Black and White Intrasquad game.
The team brought 56 players to training camp, with 32 forwards, 18 defencemen and six goaltenders suiting up over the course of the past week.
“I like the size of our club moving forward,” said director of scouting Garnet Kazuik on Sunday. “To be successful in this league, you have to have some size, most definitely. At the same time you have to have some skill. Last time I checked, you still need to score some goals. I like those two elements we have moving forward.”
In addition to all 16 returning players in camp, the Ice named 11 rookies to the exhibition roster including 2013 WHL Bantam Draft selections Cale Fleury, Jared Legien and Vince Loschiavo.
“Cale Fleury is such a dynamic, smooth-skating defenceman,” Kazuik said. “Very, very smart.
“He’s able to see the ice and make plays.”
The trio represents a strong 1998 draft class for the Ice, with Legien being selected ninth overall, followed by Loschiavo (second round, 31st overall) and finally Fleury (fourth round, 78th overall).
Legien, listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, brings a lethal combination of the size and skill Kozuik referenced.
“I really like the steps [Legien] has made in the past year,” Kazuik said. “We sent him home last year with some things to work on. He’s come back in phenomenal shape and worked so hard. He’s going to have a great opportunity here to make the hockey club.”
As for Loschiavo, he showed his high-end talent Sunday afternoon during the annual Black and White Intrasquad Game when he danced around an opponent before wiring a phenomenal wrist shot over the glove of goaltender Declan Hobbs.
“He’s definitely stepped his game up,” Kazuik said of Loschiavo. “Love his speed. Love his shot. Love his release. Everything he does is at a top speed. It’s almost like looking at a veteran player.
“We keep it in perspective. We know he’s not a veteran. He’s going to have ups and downs…He’s also in a great position to make this hockey club.”
In net, Jayden Sittler and Keelan Williams will continue to battle it out through exhibition season in hopes of laying claim to the backup role behind returning netminder Wyatt Hoflin.
Joining Fleury on the blueline are Bryan Allbee (1997), Mark O’Shaughnessy (1997) and Dylan Overdyk (1997).
Up front, Legien and Loschiavo are joined by Shane Allan (1997), River Beattie (1997) and Austin Wellsby (1997).
For the rookies named to the exhibition roster, it is safe to say they have their work cut out for them moving forward. With 16 returning players to compete with, nothing is going to come easy.
“There are a lot of good players here,” Loschiavo said after Sunday’s intrasquad game. “It’s an older team so I’m just trying to fit in and look at the [examples set by] the older guys.”
With training camp in the books, the team looks ahead to the beginning of exhibition season Thursday night in Kennewick, Wa. The Ice will stay in the Tri City area for three games, beginning with the Americans Thursday night. Kootenay then faces the Portland Winterhawks Friday before wrapping up the slate Saturday afternoon against the Everett Silvertips.
“The biggest thing is, these teams we’re going to go play this week, they’re 10 days ahead of us,” Kazuik said. “We struggle out of the gate, typically when we get down there, but that’s okay.
“The biggest [difference] is the contact. You go through camp and guys are kind of easing up on each other, so it takes a bit of an adjustment to get going there.”
The host Americans opened rookie camp Aug. 20 with main camp getting underway Aug. 22. As for the Winterhawks and Silvertips, both clubs opened main camp Aug. 20 while the Ice didn’t get things started until Aug. 27.
Kootenay Ice 2014 Preseason Roster:
Goal (3)Wyatt Hoflin (1995) Spruce Grove, Alta.; Jayden Sittler (1996) Red Deer, Alta.; Keelan Williams (1996) Calgary, Alta.
Defence (9)Bryan Allbee (1997) Prince George, B.C.; Tanner Faith (1995) Wilcox, Sask.; Cale Fleury (1998) Calgary, Alta.; Tyler King (1995) Pilot Butte, Sask.; Troy Murray (1997) White City, Sask.; Mark O’Shaughnessy (1997) Kelowna, B.C.; Dylan Overdyk (1997) St. Albert, Alta.; Jordan Steenbergen (1996) Sylvan Lake, Alta.; Rinat Valiev (1995) Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Forward (15)Matt Alfaro (1996) Calgary, Alta.; Shane Allan (1997) Calgary, Alta.; River Beattie (1997) Sherwood Park, Alta.; Levi Cable (1994) Hudson Bay, Sask.; Alexander Chirva (1996) Moscow, Russia; Ryan Chynoweth (1995) Cranbrook, B.C.; Jaedon Descheneau (1995) Edmonton, Alta.; Jared Legien (1998) Pilot Butte, Sask.; Vince Loschiavo (1998) Winnipeg, Man.; Jon Martin (1995) Winnipeg, Man.; Kyle O’Connor (1996) Calgary, Alta.; Luke Philp (1995) Canmore, Alta.; Austin Vetterl (1994) Surrey, B.C.; Austin Wellsby (1997) Chilliwack, B.C.; Zak Zborosky (1996) Regina, Sask.