Kootenay Ice training camp is officially over with the conclusion of the annual Black-White charity game on Sunday afternoon, with Team White skating away with a 7-3 win.
After the contest, the club sent home their young 1998-born prospects and cut down the roster to 27 skaters.
With 18 returning veterans, the club will likely pare down to 22 players at the conclusion of the five-game exhibition season.
The remaining prospects who’ve survived up to now will have a chance to earn a spot through the three-game tournament hosted by the Tri-City Americans, plus a pair of games in the Crowsnest Pass against Calgary and Lethbridge.
Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill said he was impressed with the way the veterans and prospects showcased themselves over the five-day camp.
It’s now up to the remainder to earn their way onto the team, he added.
“The biggest thing is compete,” McGill said. “We want them to be very competitive and we want them to play the game within their strengths, and if they do that, we’ll find a spot for them on the team. To put them in a position, to ask right now what we want from them during this camp, isn’t fair to them. We want them to showcase themselves.
“So come this week, we’ll be way more specific in roles and where we see some guys fit and what we want them to accomplish. We’ll move forward in practice, do those things and then hopefully give them a good foundation for the weekend in the Tri-City tournament and make evaluations after that.”
Garnet Kazuik, Kootenay’s director of scouting, said all his prospects, from the 1996-born to the ‘98s, came to play, and they didn’t disappoint.
“Overall, from a perspective of what we were looking for from players and people moving forward, we’re very pleased with where we’re at for right now,” said Kazuik.
The 1996- and 1997-born—16- and 17-year old—prospects are the ones making a serious push for a roster spot, and that can sometimes play with the mental side of their game, he added.
“Those players are the ones that squeeze the sticks the most. Those are the ones that seem to have the most stress, squeeze the sticks, just because they want to make the team so bad,” said Kazuik.
“So sometimes, they just need to sit back, relax, breathe, have fun and just play. If they do the preparation and the work prior to, they’ll succeed in training camp and the exhibition series.”
While the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft class was released, McGill added he was pleased with the talent he saw, praising the work of Kazuik and his scouting staff.
“I speak, probably for everybody in the organization, Jeff [Chynoweth] included, in saying that they’ve done a tremendous job,” McGill said. “They’ll continue to do a tremendous job in not only finding talented players but how they’ve operated inside this training camp in making sure that every player and every player’s parent is comfortable and understands what’s going on and they need to be commended beyond words.”
The 1998 group may still be young, but there are names that will end up on the club’s roster eventually. Both Jared Legien and Vince Loschiavo—the first and second round picks respectively—showed that they could be ready for the WHL next year.
Loschiavo, a 15-year-old Winnipeger who played Bantam AAA last season, was especially noticeable, scoring in pretty much every scrimmage.
“He was very, very good,” Kazuik said, on Loschiavo’s performance. “His biggest asset is he’s a very puck-smart player, he’s a great skater and he uses those assets very well to help himself.”
Legien looked strong in the final Black-White charity game, sniping a goal from the slot after taking a slick behind-the-net pass from teammate Luke Philp.
“Jared Legien, he got off to a slow start, but he was absolutely tremendous in the intrasquad game,” continued Kazuik. “He scored a goal, he was involved, he was moving his feet, he was doing a lot of good things.
“…As you go down the line, there wasn’t one 1998 [prospect] I was disappointed in.”
Prospects remaining with the team for exhibition action.
Name Age Hometown Position
Jayden Sittler 17 Red Deer, AB Goaltender
Troy Murray 15 White City, SK Defenceman
Dylan Overdyk 16 St. Albert, AB Defenceman
Jordan Steenbergen 17 Sylvan Lake, AB Defenceman
Matthew Alfaro 17 Calgary, AB Forward
Hudson Elynuik 15 Calgary, AB Forward
Carter Sawicki 16 Red Deer, AB Forward
Austin Wellsby 16 Abbotsford, BC Forward
Zachary Zborosky 16 Regina, SK Forward
CAMP NOTES: Jack Thomas, a 1996-born defence man, decided not to join the team for exhibition games to keep his college options open. Returning veteran defenceman Matt Thomas missed training camp for personal reasons, but will rejoin the team this week. In seven scrimmages over the course of the camp, which were managed by two on-ice officials, there were no fights—even though it came close to blows a few times.