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Peyton Krebs determined to crack Kootenay Ice roster

2016 first overall pick looking forward to being part of something ‘special’ in Cranbrook this season

Peyton Krebs is not getting ahead of himself when it comes to the 2017-18 season.

While fans and teammates alike are almost universally in agreement that he will not only make the Kootenay Ice roster, but be an impact player, he’s just taking things one step at a time.

“First and foremost, I just want to make the team,” Krebs told the media on Saturday afternoon. “That’s my first goal, honestly. [I] just want to try and get in the line-up every night and put up some numbers for sure.”

As the top pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, Krebs made a huge impression on Cranbrook last season with 6 points in 6 call-up games.

Now, as a 16-year-old, he will be eligible to be a full-time player and is trying to show in training camp that he deserves to stay.

“Having that experience of playing in the WHL [last year] helped me a lot,” he said. “On the ice, you’re definitely more confident. You can play a little harder and you don’t have the nerves that maybe you did last year.”

In the first prospects scrimmage on Saturday night, Krebs stood out, creating several goals through end-to-end rushes and impressive passes. While he’s primarily been a playmaker in his young career — Krebs had 25 assists and 15 goals in 29 games with the CFR Foothills Bisons of the AMHL last year — he is comfortable in any role the Ice want him to serve.

“I think that you come into the Western Hockey League and whatever you can do to get on the ice, [you do]” Krebs said. “If they want me to be a goal scorer, I have no problem with that. I think any guy in the WHL wants to put up numbers, whether it’s scoring goals or putting in assists.

“I [also] think that my defense zone is one of the areas I worked on [during the offseason the most], just my stability on and off the ice, to handle the faster pace and the bigger guys of the WHL.”

In his second go-around at training camp, Krebs is even feeling more comfortable adopting a leadership role.

“I think I can help a lot of the younger guys get comfortable,” he explained. “[All] those guys are all skilled. They each have their own attributes and I think just picking out the little things that maybe they haven’t learned in the past.”

Krebs, himself, has also taken advantage of mentorship from NHLer Adam Cracknell. The Dallas Stars forward is an alumni of the Ice and helped out with the prospects camp.

“Adam is a pretty special guy,” Krebs said. “Anytime you can get out with an NHLer and watch what they do and their habits, you’re in awe for sure. You can ask him any questions and he’s not afraid to help you out.”

The 16-year-old whiz kid is also very impressed with the team’s new ownership and coaching staff, which he believes will be very beneficial to every player’s development.

“It’s something new and it feels pretty special. They are a high class couple [of] guys who have put together this camp and it’s exciting for the start of the season,” he said. “[GM] Matt [Cockell] and his team are a [great] group [who’ve] had NHL experience and I think that will give a good experience for all the players.

“We have so many resources we can reach out to, whether it’s mental performance [or all the other new coaching areas] … it’s going to help in the long run for sure.”

In addition to his dominance on the ice, Krebs was also a leading performer in the first day fitness testing.

According to head coach James Patrick, Krebs’ strength has developed tremendously since last year and he’s added thickness. In the beep test — a strenuous dryland running exercise meant to measure endurance — Krebs put up the best result of any prospect.

“I’m always striving to be the fittest [and] the best, [which] I think that helps a lot on the ice,” he said. “It shows in the fitness testing for sure, but on the ice is what I’m looking for and those are the results I want to see.”

Over the summer, Krebs also gained experience with Hockey Canada as one of 111 players invited to the country’s Under-17 development camp. It was a week-long evaluation and training session for the 2017 World U17 Hockey Challenge which will be held in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek from November 5 to 11.

During the July camp, Krebs had 3 points in 3 games while playing for Team Red.

“It was [an] awesome [experience],” Krebs said. “Hockey Canada put on a great camp and I’m excited. Hopefully, I’ll represent my country one day.”

There will be 66 spots on Team Canada Red, White, and Black available for the fall tournament. During the development camp, Krebs played alongside Vancouver Giants prospect Bowen Byram, a defenceman from Cranbrook.

The prospects portion of Kootenay Ice training camp ends this afternoon with main camp starting on-ice sessions on Monday morning at Western Financial Place.