On Monday, August 20 the Kootenay Ice hosted a meeting with local media to announce their hockey operations staff for the upcoming season, their expanded community programs, and some information about their training camp and 2018 home opener.
The theme for the upcoming Ice season will be “Our Ice,” which represents their commitment to working with the community to create a source of pride in the team that is truly embraced by everyone involved, both with the team directly, in the community in Cranbrook, Kimberley and the entire East Kootenay Region, said Matt Cockell, President and General Manager.
“We continue to be excited to do the work and earn the community support and we hope that eventually the community will embrace, and this team really represents Our Ice, the community taking ownership of the team,” Cockell said.
The Ice are currently working on a number of initiatives with the goal of creating energy and excitement in the community. They hope to see their fans and supporters in the business world show their support for the team by using their new social images, or purchasing their new “Our Ice” t-shirts.
This season also marks 20 years of the Ice in Cranbrook. During the off season the Ice unveiled their new twentieth anniversary logo which will be featured on limited merchandise during the season. Season ticket holders receive a discount on the new products.
They announced that assistant coach Gord Burnett, trainer and equipment manager Darcy Ewanchuk and goaltending consultant, video coach Nathan Lieuwen have all signed extensions with the organization, for two years, three years and two years respectively.“We’re real excited about our staff as a whole,” Cockell said.
“We have, I think, worked very hard at engaging our players from a player experience perspective as well as off the ice in the community and you need excellent people to do that. So to be able to have those people join our organization is one thing and then to have them to agree to some longer term commitment is also fantastic.”
Noted in the Ice media release is that they have currently sold 1,598 season seats for the upcoming season. This is 319 less than last year and 902 less than the 2,500 they hoped to achieve with their Drive to 25 target.
Cockell said that he feels that the vision they have implemented is coming from the community, saying that they have listened to community feedback in the forms of surveys, town halls and other forums, and so he hopes it to be successful.
“Really what we’re implementing is what has been given to us by the community. People are evaluating what we’re doing and we’re evaluating from an ownership perspective a response to the investment we’re making.”
He then said that he believes there is tremendous value and numerous benefits in purchasing seasons seats. There is early-bird pricing available to those who purchase a $10 ticket to a training camp showcase event, and numerous discounts for families, students and seniors.
“Certainly we don’t feel price is a barrier,” Cockell said. “We’re continuing to elevate the experience in game, there’s a number of things in terms of a house band that we’ve invested in, the number of theme nights is second to none quite frankly. Not just in terms of experience, for jerseys, tailgate parties, other events so the games are an event and we’re looking forward to seeing an increased response to the investment we’re making in that.”
The Ice announced that the band the Mile High Club will be their new house band, performing at six home games throughout the season.
Both Cockell and head coach James Patrick said they are looking forward to the upcoming training camp which begins on Friday, with Patrick saying that there are two things the prospects should expect.
Firstly it gives them a chance to get introduced to the organization, their core values and what they’re trying to establish, while also giving the organization staff a chance to put faces to names. Secondly, he hopes to set in motion what they believe is important on the ice, how to play the game the way the Ice play it.
“Last year we didn’t have the rookies first and we got right into a little more system aspects,” said Patrick, “but this year we want to emphasize the skill work and just try and give them a feel for how you have to play the game to be successful now and where the game’s moving.”
In regards to returning Ice players, Patrick said he has been keeping in touch with them over the summer, keeping a dialogue open and making sure they know what is expected from them come training camp.
“It’s about trying to motivate and push them to get to that next level. We had meetings obviously before each player left on what we expect and for me, the off season and their workout program, that’s the homework that they’ve got to do and when they check in here in the next few days now it’s test time to see if they’ve put in the work and we got results.”
Training camp begins Friday and tickets are also on sale now for the home opener, presented by Silverado Industries, which takes place on September 22 at 7:00 p.m.