In 68 games last season, the Kootenay ICE won just 13. They lost 45 in regulation, seven in overtime, and three in a shootout.
The franchise then packed up all their bags as they were bought by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment. Their next step after that was moving to Winnipeg, where they would call the Wayne Fleming Arena their home for the next two seasons.
For now, let’s take a look at the ICE in the recent past and what’s up next.
After a tough two-game homestand against Edmonton and Vancouver and a 5-2 loss against Medicine Hat, Winnipeg is chugging along in the right direction.
The club has won three straight games. The first win was against the struggling Swift Current Broncos. Let’s not forget that Winnipeg was down 5-1 in that game. They won in a shootout.
Impressive, yes, but it’s their last two performances that have really dazzled a ton of people. Taking on the Saskatoon Blades, a team that is expected to be league contenders, Winnipeg hammered them twice. Back on Saturday, the ICE won 4-1. On Sunday, Brad Ginnell scored twice as Winnipeg went into domination mode in a 7-2 win.
The two wins gave Winnipeg six on the season, nearly half of last year’s total, and we’re only 11 games into the season.
“I thought we had four lines going and I liked everyone,” said James Patrick, head coach, courtesy of winnipegice.ca after Sunday’s win. “I think it also starts with Jesse in net. He gives us a boost and he makes saves when he needs to.”
“Our players were able to beat guys off the wall, and we spent a lot of time in their zone,” Patrick continued.
It’s only October, but if there was such thing as an extremely anticipated game this early in the season, it’s this weekend. That’s when the ICE make the trip to the Bridge City to play the Blades for the fourth time.
It’s been all Winnipeg so far in the season series. Winnipeg also won in Saskatoon earlier this season when they scored seven goals.
Saskatoon, however, is expected to be a team atop the league, so a rebound performance is expected.
“I don’t think we played good either game. They came out hard and we didn’t,” said Chase Wouters, courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades Hockey Club. “We have to compete harder. We showed up, but it didn’t look like we wanted it either game.”
In their six wins this season, Winnipeg has outshot their opponents 240-165. They also have three games with at least 45 shots.
If the team continues with their dominating second periods, there’s no reason the wins won’t continue to come. Winnipeg has outscored their opponents, 12-2 in the second period in their six wins. Overall, Winnipeg has 31 goals in their first six wins compared to just 18 against.
It would likely be an even greater difference if Swift Current hadn’t scored five goals in the first period against them. But, Winnipeg won that game, so it’s not a negative stat that pops out.
Winnipeg’s 21.1% on the power play is eighth in the league. They have a goal while a man up in five of six wins. The team’s penalty kill, however, has been less than stellar.
They’re dead last in the 22-team league. They’ve given up 11 goals on 35 penalties for 68.6%. Winnipeg, however, isn’t the only team having success with a poor penalty kill. Calgary is 6-2-1 this season and they’re 21st in the league with a 69.1%. On top of the league are the Kamloops Blazers at 90.2% and they’re 8-4 and in first place in the BC Division.
With those stats aside, Winnipeg does face a tough test. Regardless of what they have done against Saskatoon in the past, the Blades are an extremely good team. Led by Riley McKay and his 13 points, the Blades will work out their kinks in the next few days and they will be ready come Friday.
National Team bound:
Rookie sensations Carson Lambos and Matthew Savoie are heading to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge early next month. The event is being played in Swift Current and Medicine Hat. Savoie and Lambos will both play on Canada White. They are two of just 16 that made the three teams Canada will send — Red, White, and Black.
They will be joined by Cole Sillinger, Dylan Guenther, Graham Sward, and Tyler Brennan, who is from Winnipeg.
After Friday’s game in Saskatoon, Winnipeg returns back home for four straight at the Wayne Fleming. Their opponents will be Lethbridge twice, Swift Current, and Red Deer.
As mentioned before, Carson Lambos is joining his teammate, Matthew Savoie, as the duo will play on Team White for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Are you wondering how Carson is feeling heading into the event? Stay tuned to find out.