Ice vets looking for bigger roles

Prospects not the only players pushing for jobs, as returnees hope to take on more responsibilities.

While the preseason is a time for Kootenay Ice rookies and prospects to prove themselves, the veterans aren’t resting on their laurels.

Head coach Ryan McGill and his assistant, Jay Henderson, got their first good look at the team during a tournament in Tri-City last weekend, in a trio of games with each ending in a loss.

A few rookies managed to get on the scoresheet in the 8-6 shootout against the Silvertips on Saturday, with forward Matthew Alfaro notching a goal, while freshmen defencemen Troy Murray and Dylan Overdyk drew assists on a marker from Collin Shirley. Hudson Elynuik also drew an apple on Kyle O’Connor’s goal.

However, the returnees were contributing as well, as Austin Vetterl scored and collected an assist, while fellow forward Jordyn Boyd found the back of the net.

Both Boyd and Vetterl are 19 years old this season and want to bring more offence to their game. Last year, Boyd scored eight goals and tallied a total of 12 points, while Vetterl had five goals and 19 points.

Boyd knows there are eyes on him whenever he steps out on the ice.

“How you play in preseason is going to predict where you play in the beginning of the year, so obviously I’m showing what I have to the coach as a second-year guy here in Kootenay,” Boyd said. “I want to be more of a role player here this year, possibly get more special teams situations.”

The Tri-City tournament was a good way for returning vets to earn their roles while giving the rookies a chance to showcase themselves, Vetterl added.

“They’re [coaches] are looking at guys that can play roles and for them, it’s good—everyone goes out there and works their hardest, they show what they can do and taking away from it, we’re going to move forward and hopefully build on it and have a better weekend this weekend,” Vetterl said.

“…I’m just hoping to play a role on the team and obviously you’re always hoping to build on last year, stats-wise and playing-time-wise, but I’m just going in to hopefully play a role, whatever role they’re going to give me, I’m just going to play it.”

The team has two more preseason games left on the schedule this weekend as they head to the Crowsnest Pass for a pair of games against Lethbridge and Calgary.

Despite the record in the Tr-City tournament, Boyd said he sees the chemistry building in the dressing room, adding that it will bring positive results on the ice.

“I think this is probably the closest group in the WHL,” Boyd said. “Everyone gets along, there’s no guys really out of the loop on our team, everyone’s friendly with each other, so obviously that pays off.”

NOTES: The club released 16-year-old forward Austin Wellsby after the Tri-City tournament, reassigning him to the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the BCMML. That leaves three goaltenders, eight defencemen and 15 forwards on the roster. The club will release season ticket packages on Saturday, Sept. 21, with a pancake breakfast at Western Financial Place from 9 am – 11am. Any season ticket holders who can’t make it to the breakfast can swing by the Kootenay Ice office next week to collect their ticket packages.