After spending a day getting used to their bearings around them, Kootenay Ice prospects got a chance to show off their skills in a game situation during the camp’s first intrasquad scrimmages on Thursday.
Team Black had double duty for the day, playing two scrimmages against Team White and Team Blue, winning the first match 8-4 but dropping a 9-4 decision in their second contest.
Team White also had a practice in the afternoon under the guidance of Ice head coach Ryan McGill, following their morning scrimmage with Team Black.
Area scouts, along with head scout Garnet Kazuik and Kootenay Ice management, watched from the stands during both games as the prospects went at it on the ice.
A few standouts for the day include Carter Sawicki, a Team Black player who scored two back-to-back goals in the game against Team White. Sawicki also showed he wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves and went for a go against fellow prospect Collin Shirley of Team Blue in the second game.
Shirley’s light also shone bright during the game against Team Black as the 2011 first-rounder posted three goals and two assists to complete a Gordie Howe hat trick on the road to his team’s victory.
Douglas Morris, a 1995-born player who is listed with the club, went on a scoring spree as well, notching a hat trick for Team Blue. Morris only played five games last year due to injury, but came back to make an appearance in the 2012 Telus Cup with his host team, the Leduc Oil Kings.
Jesse Wood-Schatz, a late cut from last year’s squad, found the scoresheet twice with a pair of goals for Team Blue.
The Blue-Black game also featured more fisticuffs as Stefan Nicholishen took on Ice veteran Joey Leach, while prospect Jordan Steenbergen fought Ice winger Erik Benoit.
Jon Martin, who is returning for his sophomore year in the WHL, scored once for Team White in the tilt against Team Black, a trend he hopes to continue into the regular season.
Martin, who came into camp as a prospect last year, says he knows how the young guys are feeling as they battle against each other for attention.
“Just play your game,” is Martin’s advice to the young guns. “Don’t take a shift off or anything. Just do what you can do, don’t try to do too much and don’t get nervous or anything.
“Just play your game.”
Luke Philp, a late cut from the team last year who played in a few call up games throughout the season, is hoping to stick with the club this time around.
The 17-year-old played a year with the Canmore Eagles of the AJHL, where he led the team in points with 16 goals and 30 assists.
The Eagles had a tough year, though, losing 39 games and finishing in second-last place in the AHJL regular-season standings.
“Our team didn’t do too well, but I thought I played good most of the year and got to develop lots,” Philp said, of the experience. “Lots of ice time, too so that was good.
“Sure I would’ve liked to have been here, obviously, but it was good for me to go down and play more, handle the puck more, so I think that’ll help a lot coming into this year because I hope to play more this year and have more of an impact with this team.”
While competition for the forward ranks is fierce, Philp is hoping to use last year’s camp as an edge over the next few days.
“You just got to keep things simple lots of the times because that’s what they’re looking for,” said Philp, who scored a goal in both scrimmages. “Sure, it’s nice to score goals and stuff, but you don’t have to do anything fancy every play. They just like the simple plays and the less mistakes, the better.”