With Training Camp complete the Junior B hockey season is in full swing for your Cold Lake Ice.
This past weekend, seasoned veterans and new Ice hopefuls from all around Northeast Alberta and beyond (including from right here in Cold Lake) took to the ice for the teams tryout/ training camp.
The numbers may have been down but the level of talent fans have come to expect from the Ice certainly was not.
“Camp went well. Turnout was low but I think the rest of the league was the same way. The guys worked hard and battled through a little adversity. There was some good talent so I think we should be ok,” said Ice head coach Scott Hood.
The number one focus for new head coach Scott Hood this past weekend was getting players back into hockey form. Saturday morning’s practice was up-tempo and physical, culminating with a four on four scrimmage. Second year standout and Cold Lake native Taylor Anshelm clearly benefitted from Junior camps this fall. Anshelm was the top performer of the VO2 bike test at conditioning camp with the Calgary Hitmen in late August, and spent time in camp with Bonnyville. In 34 games for the Ice last season Anshelm racked up 37 points and finished fourth in team scoring. A physical centre, Taylor will be a big part of the offence this year for the Ice.
“He will definitely be counted on to put the puck in the net. Very skilled player and looks like he is in great shape. Hopefully he can start off fast and lead this team where we need to go,” said Hood.
Also returning for the Ice this season is forward Christian Nypower. Nypower led the league in scoring for a second year in a row with a remarkable 78 points and more impressively, played in all of the teams 36 regular season games. Entering the season, Nypower sits 5th on the NEAJBHL’s list of all time scorers, four spots behind former captain Dallas Ansell. With just 11 points this season, Nypower will move into the number two spot on that list. If Nypower can find the back of the net at the rate he has in the past two seasons, he will knock former captain Dallas out of the number one spot for all-time league scoring.
“It is a nice little weapon to have in your back pocket. (Nypower) is a highly skilled guy who can make some guys look ridiculous,” said Hood. “He has been a great leader so far and I expect good things from this year. He will be relied on pretty heavily to lead us offensively.”
If Nypower stays healthy and can play at least 22 games, he will also be number one on the team’s all-time games played list. That distinction currently resides with former top D-man Zack Zarowny who wore the blue, black and white for the Ice in 115 total games. Although Zack will not be returning, younger brother and skilled defenseman Mack Zarowny was present at camp.
The blue line will see the least amount of change for the Ice this year. Only two members of last season’s championship team will be absent. Josh Kohut, Kurt Franklin and Josh Wik were all present at camp this past weekend, and with Zarowny, make up a highly competent veteran-led defensive squad.
“Defensive core will be great. This should be our strong suit. Should be able to put out any pairing and feel quite comfortable with whoever is out there.”
Returning for the Ice up-front will be Curtis Whitney, Chase Brown, former AP’s Dillon Kalinski and Donavon Bibeau, Nypower and Anshelm. Connor Fynn, Mike Harbich and Brett Bujold will most likely be playing hockey for Cold Lake this season but were absent from training camp.
With Whitney returning the Ice will have three of their top four point-getters from last year and will begin the season with a highly competent offensive unit. To round out the team the Ice will be welcoming a bevy of talented hockey players. New to the team this season are nine players.
Brae Howatt, 1997 (AP with the Ice last season)
Dillion Kalinski, 1997 (AP with the Ice last season)
Donavan Bibeau, 1997(AP with the Ice last season)
Jared Jorgenson, 1995
Colton Katuski, 1996
Dahlin Supernault, 1997
Jacob Bartman, 1997
Kale Berlinger, 1997
Braden Carr, 1997
“Brae Howatt is tall, smooth skating kid who will learn from an experienced back end. Dillon Kalinski will play in the top 6 along with Donovan Bibeau. They are skilled guys who should thrive with their speed. Braden Carr is a mucker. Just the type of guy we are looking for. Likes to bang and crash and should center our third line,” said Hood.
Fans will get their first chance to see the Ice this season when they suit up in Wainwright Friday, Sept. 18 to take on the Lloydminster Bandits at 8:30 pm. Wainwright is hosting an invitational exhibition tournament where the Ice are slated to play one game.
The NEAJBHL season officially gets underway October 2nd for the Ice. Cold Lake will be in St. Paul to take on the Canadiens. October 9th the Ice return to Cold Lake for the teams home opener. The Ice will be unvailing the teams 5th straight NEAJBHL banner before the game.
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