1. Schedule - I think it’ll work out to be a good thing that the ICE will be playing 12 of the next 13 games at home. With such a young team, new coaching staff, all the practice time will help give the club a chance to work on systems and fine tune everyone’s game.
2. 2010 Bantam Draft – The ICE had 7 picks in the first 4 rounds of the Draft and selected 11 players in 7 rounds. 8 of the players selected are on the roster.
3. Youth – The ICE have 11 players 16/17 year olds on the roster. Other teams who are very young include Brandon (10), Kelowna (10), Lethbridge (11), Moose Jaw (12), Portland (11), Prince George (10). Most teams still have 3-4 cuts to make before they finalize the roster so these numbers will change. I’m not sure about the other teams, but the ICE, as usual, are giving the young players regular playing time
4. Attendance – Traditionally the crowds at ICE home games is small at the beginning of the season. If it happens again there will be criticism from media around the league. Sure would be nice if the players had big crowds at the weekend games.
5. First 2 games – The ICE played what is expected to be the 2 of the best teams in the East Conference who had very veteran line-ups. They trailed by 1-goal going into the 3rd period in each game. They never had a lead. Of the 10 goals against, 7 came in the first or last 3 minutes of the period, 4 came in the first or last 2 minutes of a period.
6. Best So Far – The ICE looked their best in the 1st period in Calgary. They outshot the Hitmen 14-8 and used their team speed on the forecheck. The defense used their size to keep things calm in their own zone. Unfortunately they trailed 1-0 after the period.
7. Roadrunners – The line combination of Descheneau-Philp-Cable was fun to watch as they have speed to burn. I’m not sure how many times they will be together but you will notice them when they are on the ice.
8. Imports – As expected the 2 new players from the Czech Republic are taking some time to adjust to the WHL. The biggest roadblock is they knew very little English we they came to Cranbrook. The fact the ICE have 2 players from outside Canada has created a stir in the community and around the league.
9. Captain/Assistants – Expect the ICE to make the decision on who will wear the letters once they are healthy and they finalize the over-age situation.
10. New Guys – With 9 rookies and 1 player acquired in a trade you’ll need some time to get know the newest players on the roster.
11. Patience – This club is going to look a lot different on January 1st. I’m not talking about roster changes, just the maturation of the current players. The potential is definitely there and it’s going to be fun to see them develop.
12. Expectations – Young or not the organization expects to and strives to make the playoffs.