Kootenay Ice prospect Anson McMaster poses with associate coach Jon Klemm, head coach James Patrick and general manager Matt Cockell after signing a Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Kootenay Ice Photo)

Kootenay Ice prospect Anson McMaster poses with associate coach Jon Klemm, head coach James Patrick and general manager Matt Cockell after signing a Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Kootenay Ice Photo)

Second-round pick Anson McMaster sees ‘bright’ future with Ice

Newest signing says inking WHL standard player agreement was “surreal”, impressed with Cranbrook

Last Thursday night, the Kootenay Ice introduced two new coaches to Cranbrook.

Both new head coach James Patrick and associate Jon Klemm are former NHL defencemen who are eager to teach the next generation.

On Friday morning, they met someone who hopes to follow in their footsteps.

Anson McMaster, the Ice’s second round pick (23rd overall) in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, visited Cranbrook to sign his Western Hockey League Standard Player Agreement and signal his commitment to the organization.

“It’s a very surreal feeling and a big step in my hockey career,” McMaster told the Townsman on Friday afternoon. “One of many more to come.”

The 6’4” defenceman, who played last season for the Rocky Mountain Raiders of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League and recorded 15 goals, 24 assists for 39 points, was joined by Patrick and Klemm at Western Financial Place to put ink to paper.

McMaster is thrilled for the opportunity to be guided by two former pros.

“It’s very cool [to be coached by Patrick and Klemm], they’ve seen it all,” he said. “Hopefully when I’m here they can teach me more stuff and hopefully get me to my goal [to play professionally].”

McMaster describes himself as a “big defenceman with a hard shot” who likes to shut down other team’s top players and also bring some offence. He models his game after Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber.

“I really like the way he plays.”

After he was selected by the Ice at the draft, director of scouting Garnet Kazuik spoke highly of McMaster.

“He’s got a hard, heavy shot [and] he’s got a presence on the ice,” Kazuik told the Townsman. “He’s [also] actually quite good at the power play for his age … we’re very excited to have him.”

In his tour of Cranbrook and the Ice’s facility with his family, McMaster got a good vibe from the town and community.

“It’s a really good small town [and] people here are amazing,” he said. “[There’s] a very [solid] fan base and things are looking really bright for the Ice.”

A big part of his excitement also comes from the opportunity to play with former teammate Peyton Krebs, who was drafted first overall by the Ice in 2016.

Krebs also played for the Raiders in the year prior to his selection. Krebs put up 102 points in 27 games in his second year of Bantam before moving up to play with the Midget Foothills CFR Chemical Bisons last season.

“It’s very, very exciting [that Krebs is on the Ice],” McMaster said. “ It’s [also] very comforting for me [to have] a person here that I know.”

Last season with the Bisons, Krebs tied for the league title in scoring with 40 points in 29 games and also had 6 points in 6 call-up games with the Ice.

McMaster is a big fan of the team’s look, too.

“I love the new logo,” he said. “It’s very sharp looking and really sets the tone for the upcoming years.”

McMaster plans to spend the rest of his off-season training and working out to get better for the Ice’s training camp in the fall.

As a 15-year-old underager, he’ll only be eligible to play in five WHL games before his Midget team’s season concludes. He’s planning to spend the majority of the 2017-18 season with the Midget AAA team in Okotoks, Alberta.

“[McMaster] is a big, tall defenceman with incredible potential,” president and general manager Matt Cockell said in a team release announcing his signing. “We’re very excited to support Anson’s development both as a player and a person.”

With Friday’s announcement, the Ice have now signed their top two picks from the 2017 WHL Draft. In the middle of May, Connor McClennon – selected second overall – also signed a standard player agreement.