Zach Franko already proving his worth

New Kootenay Ice forward adds a pair of goals towards a 5-4 win over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday.

Zach Franko battles for the puck against a defender from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night during WHL action at Western Financial Place.

Zach Franko battles for the puck against a defender from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Friday night during WHL action at Western Financial Place.

Zach Franko is looking good in the blue and white colours of the Kootenay Ice.

The newcomer was an integral part of Kootenay’s offence against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday evening, contributing a pair of goals towards the 5-4 win.

Acquired from the Kelowna Rockets two days before the WHL trade deadline last week, the Ice gave up a sixth-round pick (2014) and a third-round pick (2016) in return.

The trade situation for Franko developed when the Rockets landed Marek Tvrdon, who was sent back to major-junior after playing most of his season in the ECHL with the Toledo Walleye within the system of the Detriot Red Wings.

Kelowna acquired Tvrdon from the Vancouver Giants for a first-round pick, which gave them four 20-year-old players with only three available spots.

Kootenay Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth got in touch with his counterpart in Kelowna, Bruce Hamilton, and got the deal done in roughly five minutes.

“It was really a no-brainer for us,” Chynoweth said. “As I said leading up to the trade deadline, we wanted to add an older forward and Zach fits the bill exactly the way we want. Two hundred career points, played with a winning organization, knows what it takes to win, I think  a legitimate top-six forward who’s only going to help our hockey club.”


HIGHLIGHTS: Kootenay Ice 5, Edmonton Oil Kings 4


Franko knew something was up when he met with his coach, Ryan Huska, who delivered the trade news.

“I was bummed out for a bit, but I’m thrilled to be here to help the Ice move on,” said Franko, who had spent his entire four-year WHL career with the Rockets.

Franko had already faced the Ice earlier this year as a member of the Rockets when Kootenay went on their B.C. Division road trip, but he was already well-aware of their reputation.

“I know they played my style of a game,” Franko said. “They’re an up-tempo team that’s very good. Offensively, they have a couple guys that are really hot in the scoring standings and guys that I like to play with.

“That’s why the transition has been fairly easy, is because guys think the game like me and when you can do that, good things will come.”

Good things certainly came on Sunday with his two goals against Edmonton, which edged him over the 200-point mark of his career.

“It’s pretty cool,” Franko said. “The players that I played with in Kelowna and here, it’s a pretty big milestone for me, and it reminds me of the times I’ve had in Kelowna and the times I’m going to have here.

“I just want to come here and contribute and do whatever I can for this team to make a playoff push and make some hay in the playoffs.”

Kootenay is with a full complement of 20-year-olds with Franko, defenceman Jagger Dirk and forward Zach McPhee. The team spent most of last season with only two overage veterans in Joey Leach and Brock Montgomery after Drew Czerwonka retired due to injury concerns.

Chynoweth said he kept the overage spot open because he wanted to make sure he found the right player to fill it.

“We’ve made a lot of changes this year, I think we’ve added five new players from the start of the year and released and traded a few veterans from last year,” said Chynoweth. “We’re a team that doesn’t make a lot of changes. We build through the bantam draft and unfortunately we weren’t in a position with the 1993-age group to do that, and we wanted to make sure we got the right one.

“I know from Zach’s end, and speaking with him, he’s quite excited about our program, he knows about our success and I think he’s going to be a welcome addition to all aspects of our game.”


Just Posted

The Kimberley Aquatic Centre is set to reopen its doors to the public on July 6, after being shut down due to the pandemic in March, 2020. The Centre will be initially operating with reduced occupancy and limited program offerings. Bulletin file.
Kimberley Aquatic Centre set to re-open July 6

New safety infrastructure, limited guests and programming allow facility to open again

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read