Sunday, January 6, 2013

Something happened on the way to the Draft Lottery

For those of you lining up to buy your projected number one overall draft pick Tyler Benson jerseys, it may have to be a Giant jersey, or a Cougar as the Ice are doing their best impression of a team headed to the playoffs rather than being in line for a lottery pick at this May's Bantam Draft.

Erik Benoit scored two goals and Sam Reinhart added his 16th of the year as the Ice beat the Red Deer Rebels 3-2 Sunday night at the Rec Plex for the club's 5th straight win.

The Ice are now 15-24-1 with 31 points. Still 9 games below .500 the Ice are only nine points out of a playoff spot, not an insurmountable amount by any stretch. They leapfrogged the Cougars and are now 9 points clear of the Giants for the WHL's basement.

Does this change the attitude concerning dealing a chip or two (read: Leach or Montgomery, or a Benoit) at the deadline? Hearing some inquiries as to their availability but the price is high - set recently with the trade of power forward Kale Kessy from the Vancouver Giants to the Kamloops Blazers for 18-year-old winger Rob Trzonkowski and a 5th round pick in 2015. Scuttlebutt has the cost for Leach or Montgomery higher, especially now that a playoff spot is on the horizon. The WHL's trade deadline is January 10.

The glass floor of 2100 was broken tonight at WFP with an announced attendance of 2094, the first time in the 13-year history of the building that a regular season crowd has fallen below 2100. The Ice averaging 2326 through 24 dates this season, almost 500 off of last year's pace. Where do 500 fans go in such a small market? A bigger market - say Vancouver - yes, 500 is a lot but the significance is much more poignant in the WHL's second smallest market.

Some stats to throw at you to chew on:

F Sam Reinhart, with 37 points (16 g 21 a) is on an identical pace points-wise (62 in 67 games) for a .93 PPG as he was as a 16-year-old rookie. That was playing with brother Max and when he wasn't, not having to face every team's top shut-down D-men every night as is the case this season.

Team Defense: While most know that the Ice are the league's lowest scoring team (now tied with the Cougars as the club notched three to get to 101 on the season), they're middle of the pack - 7th in the Eastern Conference and 13th in the WHL in goals against. No small feat for a young team with a goaltender (Skapski) that has taken heat this season and had to live up to some big (Lieuwen) shoes to fill.

As the world begins to turn again with the NHL ready to ramp up after a 110 day lockout - for the record, I think the owners blinked, nobody really won and Don Fehr is worth every penny he's paid from the players to fend off the owners trying to erode their gains made over the last 20 years  - rosters will change that should affect former Ice players:

In Abbotsford with the AHL's Heat, farm team of the Flames, does D Steve McCarthy get a shot with the big club after some good play with the Heat? Will a spot open up with the Heat for former D James Martin as players move up the ladder? Martin is with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies and playing well. Does Dustin Sylvester get a shot at the Flames? Probably not this year. What about F Matt Fraser and the rebuilding Dallas Stars? G Nathan Lieuwen is carrying the mail for the Greenville Road Warriors in the ECHL (11-8-1; .901 sv%; 3.00 GAA) but will probably have to wait a year to have a shot with the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate in Rochester. Though D Brayden McNabb will have a shot to play full-time this season with the Sabres.

F Colin Shirley is back from the U-17 tournament but didn't play tonight. He might get into Tuesday's game. F Jakub Prochazka sat out his 4th straight game while G Mackenzie Skapski started his 5th straight game and notched his 5th straight win.

The Edmonton Oil Kings are here Tuesday.


ELL said...

My theory as to missing fans. In my section at least "Z". Most patrons in my area are long in the tooth with a few aches and pains. The Ice offer a cold hard seat to watch a team we have seen many times in the past. Little comforts go a long way. Going to Hotshots at the break for a quality hot beverage is one such treat that has been removed. To fill the void folks in my section have brought a little Christmas baking or a mug of their favourite tea. Except now security is clamping down making any bag carrying patron feel like a criminal. For 20% of my neighbors they have stated you can take your plastic seat and beer sales an #### it. I miss my old seat neighbors.

ELL said...

I will follow up my comment by saying the product on the Ice is as entertaining as ever. Don't mind the poor start and the present effort is quite outstanding. It is just at times it is like snuggling in to watch your favourite show in your favourite chair. Except the kitchen is off limits the furnace is on the fritz and your chair leg just broke.

Jeff said...

You make a good point in that 'atmosphere' is an extremely important part of the equation. It's my understanding that Hot Shots pulled out on their due to the success of the main location and the trouble of packing in all the coffee ingredients every game. They weren't able to store their ingredients there, is what I was told.

You can rarely argue about the quality of the product on-ice.

Anonymous said...

Any ideas on how to get more people through the gates? I agree the atmosphere is non existant. Could this be the last year?

Brian said...

how about the new years eve game? cant even turn the lights off and have the swirling ice logos going beofre the game?

not even a mention of happy new years to the fans and thanks for the support?

no,zero, zilch, and I mean no atmosphere in this building anymore.

I am leaning to the feeling that JC is dulling this event down to the point people dont even know there is a game nor have any interest in going and sitting in a dead silent morgue of a building in intermissions anyways.

I have been to six games around the league this season, and BY FAR, ours is the dullest, quietest, most boring building to be in for 2.5 hours I can recall.

you have to spend more tha $500 per season on entertainment and marketing to make a business work. not the case here what so ever.

when a team is struggling and not winning at all for long stretches, management needs to step it up, get off the damn wallet and make it a fun place to be regardless of the wins or losses. Again, not the case here. just the same old drivvel night in a night out.

on ice product is NOT selling the seats! so try to figure out what will.

the promotion and marketing of this team to the community is atrocious and non existant! quite frankly I think its on purpose or just to darn cheap to give a shit!

ELL said...

What an incredible effort and game by the Ice against Edmonton tonight. Goaltending on both sides was great, hustle unbelievable. And an appreciative crowd that rose in unision at the buzzer.

Anonymous said...

What great hockey we are being treated to!! This team is so exciting to watch.

Anonymous said...

trade dead line are we going to make any moves? Could we trade Wand and get a young dman that could play right away?

ELL said...

Was it not too long ago that we had Wand and Simpson penciled in as the future of our defense?