Kootenay Ice veterans Brock Montgomery and Joey Leach are turning pro.
After ending the season in the first round of the WHL playoffs, the two overage players have reached deals with AHL clubs as they look to further their careers in professional hockey.
Montgomery is packing his bags and heading to Austin for a shot with the AHL’s Texas stars, rejoining former Kootenay Ice teammates in Matt Fraser and Cody Eakin, while Leach is off to the Oklahoma City Barons.
After having a stellar season last year that saw him put up the best numbers of his career, Montgomery powered his way to even better stats this last campaign, with 31 goals and 17 assists for 48 points, which was good for third in team scoring.
That was good enough to impress the scouts with the Dallas Stars, and their affiliate, the Texas Stars came knocking.
“I talked with Dallas at the start of the year, kind of kept in contact a bit so it was nice, that that’s the team I signed with, because they were interested all along,” said Montgomery, “so I appreciate that. They kept looking at me all season.”
“… It’s a pretty cool feeling. It’s what you work your entire life for—train every summer, is what it kind of comes down to—and now that I’ve got the opportunity, I’ve got to make the best of it with my work ethic down there and I have to prove myself everyday.”
The ball got rolling after the Ice were bounced out of the WHL playoffs in five games against the Edmonton Oil Kings, with the agreement on Sunday evening.
“Went over it with my agent and everything looked good, so I told my agent that I was happy with it, and the next day, he told me the deal was done,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery will join up with the club on Wednesday, and will likely begin practicing as soon as possible, however, he doesn’t know when he will make his AHL debut.
However, he’ll lean on advice and support from his former Ice teammate in Fraser.
“He’ll take care of me down there,” said a smiling Montgomery.
Leach had his deal confirmed with the Barons on Monday night, and will head out to join his AHL parent team on Wednesday for the remainder of the season.
The Kootenay captain has had a bit of a roller coaster experience with professional teams, getting drafted by the Calgary Flames in the third round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, but turned into a free agent after two years.
Leach attended the rookie camp for the Winnipeg Jets last off-season, but has now come to amateur tryout terms with Oklahoma.
“I talked to a couple other teams, but yes, this was the one that was pushing to get me there, so I thought it was a good choice to go there and show them what I got.” said Leach.
The Ice rearguard ends his career as the all-time franchise leader in plus/minus with a plus 96, while adding six goals and 28 assists throughout the last campaign.