Ice prepare for training camp

Players trickle into Cranbrook from all parts of Western Canada as the WHL club opens training camp on Wednesday.

Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice celebrates a goal after beating Red Deer Rebels’ netminder Bolton Pouliot in a 4-1 win last January. It’s time for a new season as Ice veterans and prospects gather for training camp this week at Western Financial Place.

Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice celebrates a goal after beating Red Deer Rebels’ netminder Bolton Pouliot in a 4-1 win last January. It’s time for a new season as Ice veterans and prospects gather for training camp this week at Western Financial Place.

Coming in from all parts of Western Canada, players and prospects of the Kootenay Ice are back in Cranbrook for training camp, which will run through the week, culminating with the annual Black-White charity game on Sunday at noon.

The club is expecting a total of 60 skaters at the camp, which will feature their 1998-born prospects along with the veterans born between 1997-93.

“Training camp is an exciting start to the season,” said Garnet Kazuik, the director of scouting for the Ice. “The camp provides the opportunity for our coaches and scouting staff to see and evaluate our recently drafted players, while monitoring the progress of our veteran and list players.

“With a small number of athletes attending camp, we expect the competition level to be very high.”

Camp kicks off at Western Financial Place on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. with the veterans practice, as 18 returnees from last season will hit the ice for a skate. Prospects will play two games, with a goaltending session in between.

All sessions are open to the public.

After Wednesday, everyone will be divided up into three squads—Team Blue, Team Black and Team White—with individual team practices and games over the following three days.

Running for the last 15 years, Sunday’s United Way Intrasquad game will feature the players pushing for a spot on the roster, along with the top draft picks.

“We are continuing with the tradition of partnering with charitable organizations within our community,” said Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth. “Over the past 14 years, almost $30,000 has been raised for the Cranbrook United Way through this event.”

Admission is a $5 donation.

A notable absence from training camp will be Rinat Valiev, Kootenay’s first-round selection in the CHL Import Draft in June.

Valiev, an 18-year-old Russian defenceman who played in the USHL in the U.S. last year, is having trouble getting a visa due to the Canadian foreign service workers strike.

Chynoweth says Valiev has his IIHF  transfer approved and will arrive in Cranbrook once he receives his Canadian visa.