Moral victory comes at a high cost
It wasn’t a win, but it sure felt like one. Both players and fans alike came away from Wednesday’s 1-1 tie game with Red Deer feeling like it was a moral victory in that it provided some pluses for a club sorely in need of good things to build on. It also proved to be very costly.
A couple of weeks ago in an interview with Rob Vanstone for The Hockey News, Jarrett Stoll lamented the bout of bad luck he’d suffered over the summer and into the beginning of the season. Referring the wrist surgery, a case of strep throat before the Calgary Flames training camp and the freak kitchen knife accident that sliced the hand of the Yorkton, Sask. native that will see him sidelined for at least another month, his mother had always told him that things happen in threes. Being prophetic about her son is one thing, being clairvoyant about predicting the early season mis-fortunes of the Kootenay ICE is quite another.
But you could use any cliche here. Bad things always happen in threes, when it rains it pours, pick one, in the recent fortunes of the Kootenay ICE, almost any apply.
Marek Svatos, the club’s leading scorer and offensive catalyst in the absence of Stoll received the worst possible news when the slick Slovak suffered a dislocated shoulder that will sideline the Colorado Avalanche draft pick indefinitely. Adding to bad news of Stoll cutting himself and Dan Blackburn sticking with the New York Rangers, losing Svatos was not a possibility that the club wanted to ponder.
Coach Ryan McGill put on a brave face however and challenged the rest of his troops to step up in much the same way the did against the number one ranked team in the country Wednesday night. “With the loss of Marek Svatos I think that it is going to give guys a chance to see if they can prove that they belong on either a top line or to get more ice-time,” said McGill. “We’re going to have to get everybody else jumping on board. It can’t be just one individual, it’s going to have to be everybody.”
Notwithstanding Svatos’ shoulder injury, there were some positives to build on from Wednesday night’s tie with the Rebels. Number one on that list would have to be goaltending. ICE netminder Jeff Harvey had probably his best game of the young season. When the defense wasn’t successfully keeping the Rebels on the outside limiting the number of shots directed toward Harvey, the St. Albert native was solid on almost all the shots he faced. Including a great stop on Rebel forward Doug Lynch on a partial breakaway in the third frame to preserve the tie. “It’s a thankless job,” said McGill of the duty of tending the nets. “And he certainly did a great job of it tonight. Jeff was there for us, especially in the last seven or eight minutes of the game and that’s what he need to do and he deserves full credit for that.”
The other bright light emerging from the shadows is rookie forward Nigel Dawes who had probably his best game in his young career with the lone ICE tally and at least five quality chances on Rebel goalie Shane Bendera. Dawes, with two goals and five helpers in eleven games is finding that the adjustment to the fast pace of the WHL is taking some time. After burning up the exhibition season with ten points in four games, Dawes is getting a taste of what regular season action in the WHL is really like. “Yeah, it took me a couple of games, even in the pre-season, to adjust but I think things are starting to come along now,” said the diminutive Winnipeg native. At 5’7″, 170lbs Dawes is finding life in front of the opposing team’s net somewhat hostile but with some slick moves, hard work and keeping his feet moving success is starting to roll his way. “A little bit,” said Dawes of the opposing d-men he usually gives away about six inches and at least thirty pounds to. “I think it’s just a little harder to get the garbage goals just cause of the fact that everyone is a little bigger than I am. But I’m going to battle hard to get the rebounds like today when I got one off my shoulder.”
Goals, garbage or otherwise just became a premium with the Kootenay ICE and rookie Nigel Dawes along with the rest of his teammates are going to have some very big shoes to fill with the void left by the injured Svatos.
Quick Hits – Rebel’s goaltender Shane Bendera was the difference in the game as the ICE by far had the more scoring chances. With Blackburn in the NHL and Bendera playing well look for him come Christmas to be one of the Canadian back-stoppers for the World Junior team . . . Only 2931 took in the game against the defending Memorial Cup Champions – go figure… The fight that occurred between Andy Thompson and Colton Orr of the Kamloops Blazers last week is still being felt by Orr. The first punch thrown by Orr connected with Thompson’s helmet instead of his face. Orr subsequently suffered a broken or cracked bone inside his wrist that has him sidelined for at least three months.