Kootenay Ice forward Colton Kroeker skates during practice at Western Financial Place.

Kootenay Ice forward Colton Kroeker skates during practice at Western Financial Place.

Kroeker, Davis to make home Ice debut

New additions to play first game at Western Financial Place tonight, Kootenay face Prince Albert Raiders with depleted lineup .

Brad McLeod

The last time Brett Davis played at Western Financial Place, he scored a timely first period goal for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Now, Davis is hoping that his success in the arena will follow him to a new uniform.

“I’ve always played well in Cranbrook and against Kootenay so I’m excited to see how I play with Kootenay in Cranbrook,” Davis said on his expectations for his home debut.

In nine career games against the Ice, Davis had five goals and two assists including his first career WHL point on March 18, 2015. With the Ice, he already has a goal and an assist in three road games.

Davis and Colton Kroeker will both be making their home debuts with the Ice tonight as the team takes on the Prince Albert Raiders. The pair were acquired by the Ice more than a week ago in a blockbuster deal that sent leading-scorers Zak Zborosky and Matt Alfaro to Lethbridge.

Kroeker immediately inherited the title of the team’s top point producer upon his arrival and has added to his pace with a goal and two assists in his first three games.

Both players are eager to get a chance to play in front of their new home fans.

“I’m excited to see the crowd and the arena,” Kroeker said. “Obviously it’s going to be different on the other side and I’m looking forward to it.”

While wins have not followed their arrival, the two newest members of the Kootenay Ice have been reasonably happy with their transition into the group.

“I thought we fit in pretty well [on the road],” Kroeker said. “It was a little different at the start, we didn’t know the systems, but we got into it really quick.”

“The boys on the team and the coaches helped a lot,” Davis added. “It’s been pretty smooth.”

After having played complementary roles to bigger names in Lethbridge, both players are thrilled with the chance to fill key roles with the Ice.

“It’s been great to be in a top-six role here,” Davis said. “Both of us are going to be leaders on this team and step up as best we can.”

Head coach Luke Pierce said that he’s been delighted by what he’s seen out of the duo so far, and believes that they have fit in well with the team.

“They’ve been good, both [of them] have had impacts in the games [so far],” Pierce said. “They had points and were productive in their first two games. They’ve been great additions.”

The Ice have had a lot of success out of the players that they’ve added so far this year in their early games. Jake Elmer had an assist and a shootout game-winning goal on his first night with the team, rookie Peyton Krebs had two points in his first three career games, and now Kroeker and Davis have been great right away.

“I think all the additions that we’ve made have been positive,” Pierce said. “Even Kurtis Rutledge, who doesn’t get the same sort of fanfare and point production, is a very mature guy who gives more confidence to our [defence] and is just a great person in our room.

“All the guys that we’ve added have enjoyed success early and it’s now about trying to sustain that long term.”

Pierce added that he hopes Kroeker and Davis, coming from a winning team in Lethbridge, will be able to remain positive and deal with the rough patches that the rebuilding Ice will likely face.

The Ice have an excellent opportunity at a bounce back tonight at home against Prince Albert. The Raiders are at the bottom of the WHL standings and are the only team in the league struggling more than the Ice are this year.

The Ice, however, have several key injuries with Barrett Sheen, Vince Loschiavo, Ryan Pouliot and Sam Huston all expected to join Nikita Radziviliyuk in the press box after the team’s recent road trip.

In their place, the Ice have called up 16-year old defenceman Loeden Schaufler from the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League and 15-year old Peyton Krebs from the CFR Chemical Bisons of the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

While Prince Albert is in the midst of a rough year, Pierce said that his team will not be taking them lightly.

“They’ve played really well, we’ve watched the video and they look good,” he said. “Their young guys are playing hard and they’re a team in transition just like we are, but their transition started a little earlier so they’ve been working together as a group longer than we have.

“[What we need to do to be successful] is simple, it comes down to work ethic. We can’t afford to get outworked and we need our special teams to be strong and our goalie to be good.”

In the Ice’s only previous game against the Raiders this season, on November 4, Kootenay lost 6-0 during a rough four-game road trip.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. tonight at Western Financial Place.