After a much-needed summer reprieve from the rink, the Kootenay Ice return to Western Financial Place next Monday, Aug. 29, when the club opens its 2016 Western Hockey League training camp at 9 a.m.
“We are eager to begin training camp with new energy after a disappointing season last year,” said Garnet Kazuik, director of scouting for the Kootenay Ice, in a team release. “We are looking forward to seeing the progress made by our veterans as well as our Bantam Draft selections and listed players.
“There will be positions available with our club given the changes made over the past year. We expect intense competition for those roles from our new and returning players.”
The 2015-16 edition of the Ice went 12-53-6-1, finishing outside the WHL playoff picture for the first time since the 1997-98 campaign.
Without a doubt, the hope for 2016-17 is to improve upon the 12 wins and 31 points, the lowest win total and second lowest point total in franchise history.
The Ice expect to have 61 players in attendance, including six goaltenders, 21 defencemen and 34 forwards. Of the 61 expected in attendance, 17 players will be of the returning variety.
All on-ice training camp sessions are open to the public.
Monday’s itinerary puts rookies and prospects front and centre, with prospect games slated for 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
From there, the youngsters will be mixed in with the veterans, with scrimmages set for 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
The final day of camp, Wednesday, Aug. 31, will feature two more scrimmages (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.) before wrapping up with the annual United Way Intrasquad game at 7 p.m.
The 2015 United Way Intrasquad game raised a total of $2,056 for United Way — East Kootenay.
Apart from on-ice sessions, the Kootenay Ice are scheduled to run players through fitness testing on Sunday, Aug. 28.
Following training camp, the Ice play a five-game pre-season slate, beginning Sept. 8 with a date against the Prince George Cougars in Kennewick, Wash. and wrapping up Sept. 17 against the Calgary Hitmen in Crowsnest Pass, Alta.
The 2016-17 WHL regular season opens Friday, Sept. 23 as the Ice visit the Hitmen at the Scotiabank Saddledome, before returning to Cranbrook to host the Hitmen on Saturday, Sept. 24 at Western Financial Place.
2016 Kootenay Ice Training Camp Schedule
Monday, Aug. 29
9 a.m. — Prospects Game #111:30 a.m. — Veterans Practice1 p.m. — Goaltenders session6 p.m. — Prospects Game #2
Tuesday, Aug. 30
9 a.m. — White vs. Black11 a.m. — Blue vs. White1 p.m. — Goaltenders session5 p.m. — Black vs. Blue7 p.m. — White vs. Blue
Wednesday, Aug. 31
8 a.m. — White vs. Black10 a.m. — Blue vs. Black7 p.m. — United Way Intrasquad game