Kootenay ICE to pay homage to Colts
When the puck drops to open the 2018/19 Western Hockey League season, the Kootenay ICE will be celebrating 20-years in Cranbrook and the East Kootenay.
Kootenay ICE president and General Manager Matt Cockell announced to a packed Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Prestige Inn and Conference Centre Jan. 16 that the club intends to recognize the 20th anniversary with a special third jersey honouring the former Cranbrook Colts.
When the ICE arrived in town, the Colts became kaput, Cockell said, noting the late, great club remains alive in the hearts and minds of all former players and fans.
Cockell faced off against chamber president Chris Botterill in a luncheon Q&A, outlining the progress made by the new regime that took over the franchise nine months ago, saving it from likely re-location.
Cockell said a key focus has been changing the culture of the team, including re-connecting it to the community, and region, as well as improve the pipeline of talent.
Early returns appear solid as the club remains in the thick of the WHL Eastern Conference playoff race – currently in sixth place, as well as third place in the Central Division with a nine point lead over the fourth place Calgary Hitmen, and three points back of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Another focus of the ICE’s new ownership and management, Cockell said, is player education, with ardent efforts afoot to build up the players’ education fund. An alumni golf tourney is in the works for St. Eugene Golf Course and Casino, with more details to be unveiled soon. The hope is to build the fund up to $130,000.
Trying to make game night experiences more engaging, a better on-ice product and holding more special events has been working and more effort is on the way, the former WHL player and NHL draft pick told the chamber audience.
The club is hoping to fill Western Financial Place for the Jan. 27 Pink the Rink – Anti-Bullying Night, with the powerhouse Brandon Wheat Kings in town, “to make a statement,” Cockell said.
In closing the chamber luncheon discussion, Botterill noted the economic benefit of having the ICE in Cranbrook and East Kootenay, citing a Kootenay Business Magazine report that calculated the club brings in between $4 million and $5 million per year to local cash registers.
ICE knock off Tigers
The ICE came back from a 3-1 first period deficit to defeat the Central Division leading Medicine Hat Tigers 4-3 in action last night in the southeastern Alberta city.
Defenseman Martin Bodak scored twice, with Michael King and Brett Davis also scoring for the ICE. Colton Veloso and Peyton Krebs chipped in with two helpers apiece.
Duncan McGovern earned the win in goal, and also added an assist on Bodak’s game opening power play goal. He held the young club in the game, stopping 34 of 37 shots, with the ICE being outshot 37 to 22.
The ICE play next Friday, Jan. 19 at home in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place against the Edmonton Oil Kings. Game time is 7 p.m.
Tickets for the Jan. 27 Pink the Rink game are still available and can be purchased online at ICEcountry.ca, at the ICE Gear Store at Western Financial Place or by calling 250-417-0322.
Lead image: Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce President Chris Botterill with ICE president and GM Matt Cockell Jan. 16. Cockell is wearing the third jersey that will be worn next season. e-KNOW photo