When the Kootenay Ice host the Saskatoon Blades Friday at Western Financial Place, it will be behind the leadership of a new captain.
Canmore native Luke Philp will have a brand-new letter sewn onto his sweater as he officially takes to the ice as the 19th captain in franchise history, after being named to that role Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m extremely honoured,” Philp said Thursday afternoon prior to practice. “There have been lots of great guys who have worn the ‘C’ here before. It’s a huge honour.
“Everyone is a different leader and I’ll take my own approach to it.
“Lead by example with everything I do — it starts on the ice. I’ve got to be the hardest-working guy out there every day, both in practice and the games, and other guys will follow.”
Philp follows in a long line of well-established and celebrated players to have worn the ‘C’ before him, including the likes of Nigel Dawes, Jarret Stoll and, most recently, Sam Reinhart.
While it might seem a tall task for the 5-foot-10 pivot to follow in the shadow of players like Dawes, Stoll and Reinhart, it’s an opportunity he has earned and as far as head coach Luke Pierce is concerned, an opportunity the 19-year-old Philp is ready for.
“Right now, it’s what he brings on the ice — not just his talent but his work ethic,” Pierce said Thursday. “He’s a guy who, off the ice, does a lot of the right things. He works hard in the gym and he approaches the game the right way. He holds his teammates accountable and at the same time, no different than any other skill, there’s always things to work on as a leader. We want to help him grow that part of his game and become even more of a complete leader that way.”
The first official task for Philp will be to lead his comrades into battle Friday against the Saskatoon Blades (4-3-3-0).
Through 12 games this season, the Ice (2-10-0-0) have managed two victories and sit 12th in the WHL’s 12-team Eastern Conference.
The Blades visit Cranbrook for the first time this season after having dismantled the Ice by a 7-2 margin back on Oct. 7 when the teams met in Saskatoon.
“I’m interested to see how much our guys remember from that,” Pierce said. “Anytime you get a whooping like that, you put that in the memory bank and you want to exact some revenge. I’m hoping that’s the case with our group.”
The Blades are fresh off receiving a whooping of their own — victims of a 7-1 loss at the hands of the Red Deer Rebels Wednesday.
“Last time we didn’t have a very good effort against them in Saskatoon,” Philp said. “But we’re looking to come with a much harder approach to the game and get on them right away. They’re a fast team. We’ll be ready for that and we’ll have a much better effort this time.”
Puck drop between the Ice and Blades is set for 7 p.m. Friday on College Night at Western Financial Place.
Notes: The Ice are expected to be without D Cale Fleury (upper body), D Tyler King (knee), RW Jaedon Descheneau (upper body) and RW Max Patterson (upper body) Friday night… Following Friday’s contest with the Blades, the Ice depart for two road games, beginning Saturday at Red Deer and concluding Monday at Edmonton…
Interview audio: Ice head coach Luke Pierce
Last game highlights: Kootenay Ice 2 at Saskatoon Blades 7 (Oct. 7)