For the past 16 years, the Kootenay Ice Black & White Intrasquad Game has provided fans the opportunity to take in some of the club’s best and brightest future talent, while supporting a good cause at the same time.
On Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m., the annual intrasquad game in support of East Kootenay United Way returns to Western Financial Place for its 17th instalment.
“We are proud to continue our long-standing relationship with the East Kootenay United Way,” said Jeff Chynoweth, president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, in a team release.
More than $32,000 has been raised for East Kootenay United Way over 16 years of the Kootenay Ice Black & White Intrasquad Game.
Most recently, the 2014 intrasquad game raised $2,265 for the East Kootenay United Way.
“It’s a chance for us to partner with a charitable organization and the East Kootenay United Way has been involved for the last 16 years and this will be their 17th year,” said Chris Wahl, director of sales and public relations for the Kootenay Ice. “It’s worked out to be a great partnership and both sides really see a benefit from it.”
Fans wishing to attend the Black & White Intrasquad Game are asked to bring a minimum donation for the East Kootenay United Way of $5 per person.
Each year, the Black & White Game features a handful of returning Kootenay Ice players and young prospects, including a number of selections from the most recent WHL Bantam Draft.
Led by veteran forward Ryan Chynoweth, Team Black claimed supremacy in 2014 with an exciting 4-3 shootout victory.
Ryan was the instrasquad hero last season, providing the offensive bookends in the annual charity game by opening the scoring before ending it all in the seventh round of the shootout.
There will be room for a new hero in 2015 as Ryan has moved on to the Drumheller Dragons of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
In 2014, forward Vince Loschiavo — 16 years old at the time — stepped into the spotlight as he made a case for a place on the full-time roster.
The native of Winnipeg registered an electrifying tally, burning a wrist shot past a helpless Declan Hobbs in the third period of play, putting his quick release on display for those in attendance.
Loschiavo, a 6-foot-1 speedster, went on to appear in 58 games as a rookie with the Ice, scoring six goals and nine points last season. He represents the next wave of young talent as the Kootenay Ice turn over a new leaf following the graduation of players like Sam Reinhart, Tim Bozon and Rinat Valiev.
Though Hobbs was burned by Loschiavo in last year’s Black & White Game, the Saskatoon native earned a two-game regular season stint with the Ice later in the year and stands as a strong candidate to one day inhabit the crease on a more full-time basis.
While rosters for the annual Black & White Game won’t be announced until closer to Sept. 3, fans could expect to see a variety of 2015 WHL Bantam Draft selections, including defenceman Loeden Schaufler (third round, 56th overall), forwards Eli Lieffers (fourth round, 78th) and Benjamin Sanderson (sixth round, 122nd) just to name a few.
Players from the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft class are now eligible to suit up on a full-time basis.
Like Loschiavo did last season, there will be a number of players making their second appearance at Kootenay Ice camp hopeful of earning a coveted full-time spot this season.
Goaltender Jakob Walter (second round, 33rd overall) will look to make an impression and put some heat on the likes of returning goaltender Keelan Williams as well as Hobbs.
Lanky forward Max Patterson (fourth round, 77th) will look to make a name for himself as he graduates from the Okanagan Hockey Academy and into the junior ranks this season.
Walter and Patterson represent just a couple of the young up-and-comers that could find themselves on the ice for the annual charitable intrasquad outing.
Organizations interested in partnering with the Kootenay Ice for future charitable and not-for-profit events are encouraged to contact Wahl (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Kootenay Ice office at 250-417-0322.
“When we can, we like to partner with charitable organizations,” Wahl said. “At this point, we’re still finalizing a lot of what we plan on doing [this season], both at our game nights and with respect to getting the players out in the community and getting them involved.
“We’re always happy to take requests and work with a variety of interest groups that serve, not just Cranbrook, but the entire East Kootenay region.”
Through the 2014-15 WHL season, the Kootenay Ice were involved in a number of local charitable outings and efforts, including classroom and library appearances, the Royal Canadian Legion’s annual November wreath campaign, the annual Teddy Bear Toss and subsequent visit to the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in December, just to name a few.
Kootenay Ice training camp opens Monday, Aug. 31, with the first prospect game of the week slated for 10 a.m. at Western Financial Place.