The gloves stayed on, but there was no lack of fight at the Kootenay Ice’s Black vs. White training camp intrasquad game.
The 2017 edition of the annual competition was a high scoring affair with Team White edging out Team Black 8-6, in what was certainly a raucous and intense night at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
“We were all battling to keep [our] spots on the team,” said forward Vince Loschiavo after the game. “It’s good that we’re all friends, but we were all competing hard on the ice.”
The White group, which was led by veteran Loschiavo, 20-year-old forward Colton Kroeker and star prospect Peyton Krebs, were on their game from the beginning.
15-year-old James Form scored the game’s first goal for the White team and was soon joined on the scoresheet by returning players Tanner Sidaway and Loschiavo, as they grabbed a 3-1 lead 20 minutes in.
Loschiavo’s goal, a top shelf wrister that sent the goalie’s water bottle flying, was one of 16 shots by the White team compared to six by Black in the first period.
The Black team stormed back early in the second frame with 2001-born forward Ethan Strang scoring back-to-back tallies. White regained their lead, however, before the end of the period with Krebs connecting with Kroeker and Barrett Sheen assisting Michael Araki-Young.
The floodgates opened in the final period and Barrett Sheen put in two goals to seal the victory. Defenceman Nolan Orzeck also scored for White, while Jordan Henderson, Keenan Taphorn and Cameron Hausinger all found the back of the net for Black.
“I thought we played really hard,” Loschiavo said of his team’s win. “We listened to the systems that [the coaches] went over with us before the game and we just played the full 60 and it was good.”
Loschiavo was one of several players involved in tense altercations with opposing teammates that were later mended after the game. According to Brett Davis, who was a leader for Team Black, that’s just how things go in hockey.
“It’s just the competitive nature out there,” Davis said. “I think we’re all just working hard and trying to make a good impression on the coaches.
According to head coach James Patrick, who watched the game from the stands, there were many impressive performances.
“I liked some of the veteran guys, Brett Davis and Vince [Loschiavo] were really good. I thought some of the young guys [were too],” he said. “Peyton [Krebs], in the last two periods, was outstanding. Nolan Orzeck, Jake Sanderson and Zachary Patrick, those three young defensemen … they’ve had great camps.
“I thought there was good energy from the group as a whole.”
Earlier in the day, Patrick told the media that the lineups for the game were neither a seal of approval or condemnation, but more about practicality.
“We wanted to take a look at a few guys,” Patrick said. “We [were] short forwards, so almost every forward [played], but for defencemen, we just wanted to start getting a feel on a couple veteran D and see where they fit.
“We had a couple of young [defencemen] that I thought played well [in camp]. Ben Zlotny played [great] and I was hoping that he would play in the game, but we just had to make a decision … we just thought it would be more important to start identifying some of the 19 and 20-year-olds.”
Overall, the coach was pleased by the level of competition that he saw and was encouraged that players seem to be responding already to the work the team put in with them over training camp.
“I thought the effort level was really good,” he said. We [went] over some systems stuff [in the morning and] we showed some video today and I thought they tried to do a lot of things we started to talk about, [with] faceoff pursuits and even some defensive zone looks. It was good to see.”
Patrick was also enamoured by the Kimberley rink and the atmosphere of the game.
“I loved the energy [and] I liked being in this building,” he said. “It was fun to play in front of a decent sized crowd… we all grew up in small towns or cities that had old barns like this.
“I’ve heard some of these rinks [in] Kimberley and Fernie are a great atmosphere at the junior B level, so it was really good to experience it.”
Patrick thought the environment was particularly special for the younger players at the camp.
“[The young guys have] played in front of crowds at big tournaments, but at this level to play against Brett Davis and Vince Loschiavo who were at an NHL development camp [was excellent],” he said. “With the morning skate [and] video [session], having their dressing room set up like it would be in a game, the national anthem, the penalties called, real referees and a really good sized fun crowd … it felt like a real game.”
After the night was over, Patrick said that he would be facing one of the toughest parts of his job with the team making their first round of cuts.
“Some tough calls are going to be made, he said. “We have to take[ into account] how certain players are going to progress over the next three [to] six months. I know [General Manager] Matt [Cockell] has been around this league a long time [and will be] looking at 16, 17, 18 and 19-year-olds and where they stand and where they fit and what their development will be.
“It’s still going to be tough. A couple of guys are going home who have had really good camps.”
After their roster is pared down, the Kootenay Ice’s first game action will occur on September 7 as they kick off their pre-season against the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Washington. The game is the first of a three-game tournament and six total pre-season matches.