After making his WHL debut on Wednesday in Lethbridge, the Kootenay Ice’s top 15-year-old prospect, Peyton Krebs, will be playing in his first home game tonight at Western Financial Place as the Ice take on the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Krebs, the team’s 1st overall pick in the 2016 Bantam Draft, earned an assist in his opening game against the Hurricanes and was thrilled with his first taste of the league.
“It was definitely very exciting [to play in my first game], the guys in the room made it pretty easy for me to transition to playing with the Kootenay Ice,” Krebs said on Thursday. “It was definitely a cool experience playing out in Lethbridge and [now I’m] just getting ready for Friday.”
Despite being a highly-touted potential future star of the WHL, Krebs wasn’t expecting to get quite the opportunity that he did in his first crack at the league. The young forward got significant time on the ice and as the game progressed, was even given the chance to centre the power play and line up next to Ice goal scoring leader Zak Zborosky.
“It was definitely surprising for sure, coming up I didn’t think I was going to get that [much] ice time,” he said. “I just took advantage of it and hopefully I [got] something going.”
Coach Luke Pierce was very impressed with Krebs’ play in his first game.
“I thought [Krebs] fit in really well with [his linemates] Michael King and Keenan Taphorn — they provided a lot of energy for our group,” Pierce said of Krebs. “The core of what he is as a player is an offensive guy and we’ve got to give him opportunities to showcase that and capitalize on his abilities.”
Krebs had a number of high quality chances against Lethbridge, including his shot that caused a rebound and earned him his first career assist.
“It was pretty awesome [to get a point],” Krebs said. “It was [the result of some] good plays from the other guys and then a good finish by Zborosky.”
Zborosky, a 20-year-old veteran and one of the team’s most important leaders, was thrilled to play with such a talented young player.
“The best part about [Krebs’] game is that he’s always in the right spots and he’s a very smart player and that’s going to take him a long way,” Zborosky said on the young Ice addition. “It’s easy to play with him because he’s [always] in those right spots.”
Now, Krebs is eager to play for the first time at what should be his future home rink.
“It’s definitely a cool experience having the home fans,” he said. “Obviously, yesterday we were out in Lethbridge so that was a little different but tonight’s going to pretty awesome and I’m really excited.”
With a practice under his belt, Krebs thinks he should be able to feel even more comfortable in his second game with the Ice.
“Getting a practice in, getting a little more chemistry will be the right thing for sure … [on Wednesday, I wasn’t at] the meeting with the guys [so] not knowing who I was going to play with was challenging but they made it smooth for me and hopefully I was able to help the team.”
Although Krebs is enjoying his time with the Ice, he can’t help but also feel a little torn, as he will miss some games with his Midget AAA team this weekend. Krebs’ team, the Foothills CFR Chemical Bisons of the AMHL, play on Friday and Saturday without him.
“It’s definitely a cool experience [here] but CFR is my home for this year and I hope they can pull out some wins,” he said. “I think this experience just gives [me] a little taste so [I] can have that drive to come out next year and be ready to go, but CFR is where I know I’m going to be this year.”
Although Krebs’ stay with the Ice is only temporary — the 15-year-old can only play five games in the WHL before his season with the Bisons is over — he expects to be part of something great with the Kootenay Ice in the future.
“I think there’s a lot of good guys coming up [and] we’re going to have a bright future for sure with the Kootenay Ice,” he said. “I couldn’t be more excited [to work] with Luke [Pierce] and the coaching staff, they’re such great guys and have allowed me to be successful in all areas.
“I’m very excited for the Kootenay Ice.”