Head coach Luke Pierce is about to get a look at a pair of highly-touted prospects that could add a lot to the Kootenay Ice come the 2016-17 WHL season.
Ahead of Friday’s tilt with the Regina Pats, the Kootenay Ice have recalled 16-year-old twin forwards Keenan Taphorn (2000) and Kaeden Taphorn (2000) from the Yorkton Maulers of the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get an idea of where they’re at and for them to get feel for the guys and the league and what things they’re going to have to work on this summer to be ready to come in next year and hopefully be a part of the group,” Pierce said Wednesday night.
“We’re not putting a whole lot of pressure on them. It’s just an opportunity to see what they’re like.”
While the Taphorn twins physically joined the Ice in the same fashion, jumping on the team bus as it travelled from Brandon to Regina Thursday, the two officially came to the club at different times and in different manners.
Keenan was a second-round draft pick (34th) of the Ice at the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. Meanwhile, Kaeden was then tabbed in the third round (47th) by the Vancouver Giants, ensuring the Yorkton-raised twin brothers were separated.
After both sat out 2015 training camps with the Ice and Giants, respectively, Kootenay president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth was finally able to strike a deal to reunite the pair, sending a second-round pick (2016) to the Giants in exchange for Kaeden at the WHL trade deadline.
Now, with the Taphorn twins both under the same Major Junior roof, they will make their WHL debuts this weekend as they join the Kootenay Ice for Friday’s contest in Regina and Saturday’s tilt at Swift Current.
“They’re obviously young and there’s going to be some challenges that way,” Pierce said. “But it’s nice having them play back-to-back because we can talk to them after the first game and let them know some things they can work at.
“Right now, it’s trying to get an idea of how they think the game and how they’re going to fit in with the way we want to play it. It’s a big advantage to give them some things to think about moving on finishing their year [in Yorkton] and then going through the summer.”
Listed at 6-feet and 160 pounds, Kaeden has registered 12 goals and 32 points in 42 games with the Maulers this season.
Twin brother Keenan is the slighter of the two, measuring up at 5-foot-11 and 158 pounds. In 42 games, he has collected six goals and 25 points.
While the arrival of the Taphorn twins provides an intriguing storyline heading into the weekend, the Ice will look to rebound from an embarrassing 11-1 loss to the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday.
The Pats (26-23-3-4), having won three consecutive games and gone 7-3-0 over their previous 10 outings, won’t make for an easy opponent.
“They’re playing really well right now,” Pierce said of the Pats. “Watching video, even of the last time they played Brandon, they looked real good. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to skate.
“It’s playing as simple as we can and being patient with our chances and trying to capitalize on those types of breaks. But we didn’t work [Wednesday at Brandon] at all, so we’re going to have to work Friday.”
Puck drop between the Ice and Pats is slated for 7 p.m. (Mountain) from the Brandt Centre in Regina.
Following Friday’s contest, the Ice round out a three-game East Division swing when they visit the Swift Current Broncos (20-29-4-3) Saturday night (7 p.m. Mountain).