Kootenay Ice fans will finally get the chance to see the newest member of the team on Wednesday when the Medicine Hat Tigers come to town.
Landon Peel, an 18-year-old defenceman, joined the team in Saskatchewan for a four-game road trip, and will make his home ice debut at Western Financial Place against the Tigers.
Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth picked up the defenceman on the Jan. 10 WHL trade deadline as a replacement for Mike Simpson, who was sent to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in exchange for a draft pick.
However, Peel wasn’t even playing in the WHL.
Drafted in 2009 by the Regina Pats, Peel appeared in 19 games with his WHL club last year, before being released to the Swan Valley Stampeders of the MJHL.
There he stayed into this season, suiting up for 38 games, scoring nine goals and tallying 32 points before getting the call from Chynoweth.
“It was great,” said Peel, when asked how it felt to hear from another WHL team. “I’m glad I can get the opportunity to come back into the league again and it looked like it was a great spot here in Cranbrook.”
He had a sneaking suspicion the WHL may come knocking as it got closer and closer to the deadline.
”Yes and no,” Peel added, on whether or not he was expecting a phone call from someone, “but for sure, getting the call was really exciting.”
Before the addition of Peel, the Ice had five defencemen on the roster—six if you count Jeff Hubic, who is currently playing a checking role on the fourth line.
Ice head coach Ryan McGill threw Peel right into the fire, suiting him up for all four road games in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw.
“I want to be a puck-moving defenceman,” said Peel, as he describes his role. “When I can, join the rush and look after my own zone and get up and help create some offence.”
McGill already likes what he sees.
“He’s going to be good for us,” McGill said. “He can move the puck…He does a lot of little things very well with deception with the puck and he’s very creative.”
“I think that’s what we need back there and anytime we can get the puck out of our zone as quick as possible—that’s huge for us.”
WHL NOTES: Prince George Cougars head coach Dean Clark was relieved of his duties by general manager Dallas Thompson on Tuesday. Clark, who joined the Cougars in April 2009, has a record of 83-163 5-11 during his tenure. The Cougars will announce a new head coach on Wednesday morning, according to a team release.