The Kootenay Ice have acquired forwards Austin Gray (1997) and Reed Morison (1998) from the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Gray, a 6-foot, 162-pound native of Prince George, brings seven games of WHL experience.
“Austin Gray is coming off an impressive season in the B.C. Major Midget League and unfortunately due to injury was only able to spend a brief time in Portland,” said Jeff Chynoweth, president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, in a team release. “With our depleted forward ranks, Austin will be stepping into a situation where he will be given a chance to play regularly.”
In 37 games with the Midget ‘AAA’ Cariboo Cougars during the 2014-15 season, Gray posted 25 goals and 64 points. He also worked his way into five games with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings and another five games with the Winterhawks (one assist).
Morison, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound native of Calgary, also brings seven games of WHL experience.
“Reed Morison adds size and depth to our forward corps, in particular our 1998-born players,” Chynoweth said. “Reed has put up big numbers throughout his minor hockey career, and while he will stay in Junior ‘A’ in Calgary at this time, we will re-assess after our B.C. road trip.”
Morison made his WHL debut in 2013-14, skating in two games with the Winterhawks.
In 32 games with the Midget ‘AAA’ Calgary Royals during the 2014-15 season, Morison tallied 18 goals and 35 points.
This season, the 17-year-old forward has skated in 15 games with the Calgary Canucks of the AJHL, marking up one goal and four points.
Upon their arrivals, Gray and Morison will have the opportunity to step straight into the injury-depleted Kootenay Ice lineup when they head out on a five-game road trip through the B.C. Division beginning Tuesday in Kamloops.
Gray is expected to join the Ice in time for Tuesday’s tilt against the Blazers, while Morison will remain with the Canucks for the time being.
Captain Luke Philp (ankle) is out indefinitely, while right wing Jaedon Descheneau is expected to miss the duration of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Another top-six forward — Zak Zborosky — is week-to-week with a lower-body injury and right wing River Beattie has also been unavailable due to a head injury.
Finally, forward Shane Allan has been unavailable over the past three games as he serves a four-game suspension for charging.
Saturday against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Ice lined up defencemen Bryan Allbee and Jason Wenzel — who returned after five-game absence due to headaches — at forward. Even with the two typical blue-liners skating up front, head coach Luke Pierce was still one skater short.