The Kootenay Ice return to Western Financial Place for a two-game homestand beginning tonight when the Regina Pats roll into Cranbrook.
Leading scorer Jaedon Descheneau is slated to play his 200th career WHL game tonight. The 19-year-old winger is also within two points of 200 in his WHL career, having scored 82 goals and 116 assists since joining the Ice in 2011-12.
“Every year I’ve gotten better and I’m getting better this year, too,” Descheneau said prior to practice Thursday afternoon. “I’ve done pretty well in this league and I hope to be able to transfer that into the next level.”
The 5-foot-9 spark plug has come a long way since posting three goals and 14 points in 54 games during his WHL rookie season in 2011-12. Head coach Ryan McGill returned to Kootenay for the 2012-13 WHL regular season, a year in which Descheneau broke out with 30 goals and 78 points in 69 games.
“He’s a very strong individual on his skates because of his stature,” McGill said. “He’s worked on his game. As a coach, you look to the other team’s best players. You look at the other team’s lineup and you look to see who you have to make sure you’ve got the right people out against.
“If I’m another coach, that’s how I look at him…He’s a player, in this league, you have to make sure you have the right defencemen and forwards out against him. That’s a compliment to his game and a compliment to him and how far he has come.” Descheneau registered a career year with the Ice last season, racking up 44 goals and 98 points in 70 games. With five goals and eight points to start the 2014-15 campaign, the Edmonton native is on a similar pace and his play was recognized Thursday afternoon when he was named to Team WHL for the 2014 Subway Super Series. This marks the second consecutive year Descheneau will represent Team WHL at the Subway Super Series.
“I learned a lot from it [last year],” Descheneau added. “This year, I go in knowing what to expect, 100 per cent. It’s a lot of fun.”
The 2014 Subway Super Series is a six-game competition pitting Canadian major-junior players against the best and brightest young prospects from Team Russia. Team WHL will face the Russians to open the 2014 series beginning Monday, Nov. 10 in Saskatoon, before moving on to Brandon for Game 2 Tuesday, Nov. 11.
While the recognition of joining Team WHL for the Subway Super Series is a welcome tip of the hat for Descheneau, his focus remains on the weekend at hand, beginning tonight when the Regina Pats come to Cranbrook for the first time this season. The last time the Ice and Pats met, Regina escaped with a narrow 5-4 victory on home ice Oct. 8. Descheneau was the driving force behind the offence, potting three goals and an assist in the loss. Wyatt Hoflin made 42 saves.
“[We need] stick to the details and what we’ve been taught in practice this week,” Descheneau said.
“Whatever [head coach Ryan McGill] gives us, we have to use to a tee, to our advantage. He gives us that stuff for a reason — to breakdown the other team. We’ve proven in the last few games we can do that at times. We haven’t been consistent with it at all.”
The Ice will be without recently returned forward Tim Bozon, who is a nursing a lower-body injury sustained while at pro camp with the Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs. Vince Loschiavo will miss his third game with an upper-body injury and Rinat Valiev will miss his ninth game with a lower-body injury.
Bolstering the lineup will be forward Jon Martin, who returns after missing three games with an upper-body injury.
Puck drop between the Pats and Ice is slated for 7 p.m. tonight at Western Financial Place.