James Patrick and the Kootenay Ice are looking forward to getting training camp underway. Photo submitted by Kootenay Ice.

James Patrick and the Kootenay Ice are looking forward to getting training camp underway. Photo submitted by Kootenay Ice.

Ice training camp set to open

WHL veterans and prospects look to impress new ownership and coaching staff.

Hockey is back in the Key City.

The Kootenay Ice is set to kick off training camp this weekend, opening with a prospects camp on Friday before moving into main camp on Monday.

There have been a monumental sea of changes during the offseason for the WHL club, which has included a new ownership group, new coaching staff and trades that has reshaped the roster.

It’s been a tough few years of missing playoffs and finishing in the league basement for the WHL club but the changes on and off the ice have provided an air of renewal.

Head coach James Patrick has used the summer months to research his players and prospects and will now get the chance to meet them face-to-face to see what they can do out on the ice.

“For the whole group, I know most of them by name,” Patrick said. “I’ve met a couple of them and talked to them all, but I’m just really looking forward to meeting the players and getting to know them as players and people.”

Patrick, who arrived in Cranbrook via the NHL where he served as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars for the last four years, brings a resume that also includes over 1,000 games played in the league after being drafted ninth overall by the New York Rangers in 1981.

After hanging up his skates in 2006, he jumped right into coaching in the NHL, first with the Buffalo Sabres for seven years, before moving onto Dallas.

Now, he’ll get the chance to run his own team in the WHL, which isn’t an unfamiliar league to him given that his nephew — Nolan Patrick — was just drafted second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in June.

It will be a busy week at Western Financial Place as roughly 60 players, ranging from prospects to WHL veterans, will be participating in fitness testing, on-ice skills sessions and scrimmages.

For prospects especially, Patrick hopes they will get a taste of what major-junior hockey is all about.

“Number one, I want them to come and have a fun, enjoyable experience,” Patrick said. “I think, for a lot of them, its their first introduction to the Kootenay Ice and our organization and I’m getting to know them. So for a lot of them, it’s a real big deal to come to their first Western Hockey League camp and we want to make it enjoyable, we want to make it run like a professional camp and as efficient as possible.

“…We’d just like to see them compete. I want to see them compete at a high level. I want that to be the backbone of the organization.”

With so many players attending camp, Patrick will be leaning on the entire hockey operations staff, including Ice GM Matt Cockell, his assistant coaches and regional scouts to get a proper read on the players throughout the next seven days.

“Once we get into main camp within the week, the players will speak for themselves,” Patrick said. “Everyone is going to come with a clean slate and they’re going to get every opportunity possible. We’ve said a number of times as a coaching staff that we won’t be picking the team. The players will be; they’ll be the ones determining how they’re going to fit.”

Training camp roster includes 16 returning Ice veterans, three WHL veterans acquired through off-season trades, and two import players selected in the CHL Import Draft.

That roster includes Petyon Krebs, a highly-touted Ice prospect drafted first overall in 2016, who had a brief cup of coffee with the club last season, scoring six points in six games.

Krebs will be looking for a full time spot on the team this year.

“I know from the Hockey Canada camps, they’re pretty impressed with him, so I’m really excited about that,” Patrick said. “Obviously it’s going to be fun to see his skills on the ice and I know the fans here in Kootenay got a glimpse of that at the end of the year and he’s got so much upside.

“But he’s a young player and like a lot of young players, he’s got a lot of learning and growth to do, so we’re excited to be part of it and to watch him develop and try to help him develop.”

Following training camp, the annual Black and White Game will be hosted by the Kimberley Civic Centre. Tickets can be purchased at the Ice office in Western Financial Place, online at www.kootenayice.net and at the Centex Market in Kimberley, with all proceeds going to the Ice Education Fund.

Ice training camp schedule

Prospects Camp

Friday, Aug. 25

Fitness Testing 10:00 am

Team Cracknell (on-ice) 4:30 pm

Team Sinclair (on-ice) 5:45 pm

Saturday, Aug. 26

Team Cracknell goalies (on-ice) 8:30 am

Team Cracknell (on-ice) 9:00 am

Team Sinclair goalies (on-ice) 10:00 am

Team Sinclair (on-ice) 10:45 am

Team Cracknell vs Team Sinclair 5 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 27

Team Sinclair goalies (on-ice) 8:30 am

Team Sinclair (on-ice) 9:00 am

Team Cracknell goalies (on-ice) 10:00 am

Team Cracknell (on-ice) 10:45 am

Main camp fitness testing 1:30 pm.

Team Cracknell vs Team Sinclair 5:00 pm

Main Camp

Monday, Aug. 28

Team Cracknell goalies (on-ice) 8:45 am

Team Cracknell (on-ice) 9:00 am

Team Sinclair goalies (on-ice) 10:00 am

Team Sinclair (on-ice) 10:15 am

Team Lieuwen goalies (on ice) 11:15 am

Team Lieuwen (on-ice) 11:30 am

Team Cracknell vs Team Sinclair 3:00 pm

Team Lieuwen goalies (on-ice) 4:45 pm

Team Lieuwen (on-ice) 5:00 pm

Tuesday, Aug. 29

Team Sinclair goalies (on-ice) 8:45 am

Team Sinclair (on-ice) 9:00 am

Team Cracknell vs Team Lieuwen 10:00 am

Team Cracknell goalies (on-ice) 3:30 pm

Team Cracknell (on-ice) 3:45 pm

Team Sinclair vs Team Lieuwen 4:45 pm

Wednesday, Aug. 30

Black/White pre-game skate

Team Alpine Toyota 9:00 am

Team Centex Market/Stoke Juice 10:00 am

Black/White game 7:00 pm