There will be a few familiar faces back at Western Financial Place this weekend, but the Kootenay Ice are focused on a return to the win column.
Heading into action against the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday and the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sunday, the Ice are on a four-game losing streak.
After a week of practice, only occasionally interrupted by cancellations due to heavy snowfall, the Ice should have a good chance to regain some confidence against the last-place-in-the-WHL Raiders.
Kootenay is 1-1 on the season so far against Prince Albert, and still a single point ahead of them in the standings.
While a loss could send the Ice to the bottom of the chart, according to their leading-scorer Colton Kroeker, they’ll take the same approach as any other game.
“I haven’t really thought about [the standings], we’re just trying to win hockey games and do whatever it takes to win against any team we play,” Kroeker said. “We won the last game against the Raiders [so] they [probably] want to get some redemption but we’ve got to come out hard and play like we did against them last time.”
The last time the two teams faced, on January 18, the Ice won 6-3 in an effort led by 15-year-old Ice callup Peyton Krebs, who had 4 points. Their previous meeting on November 4, was a 6-0 Raiders shutout win.
As for Sunday, the Ice are 2-2 against the Hurricanes this season, but this fifth game should have a different dynamic.
The two teams swapped players at the trade deadline, with the Hurricanes receiving former Kootenay 20-year-old stars Zak Zborosky and Matt Alfaro, in exchange for Colton Kroeker and Brett Davis.
Every player involved in the deal has been an asset to their new organization. Zborosky has five goals and nine assists in 12 games with Lethbridge, while Alfaro has a goal and three assists in seven games while taking on a more defensive role with the ‘Canes.
For the Ice, Kroeker has three goals and nine assists in 12 games and Davis has eight goals and five assists, also in 12 games. Both Kroeker and Davis have excelled with Zborosky and Alfaro’s former linemate, Vince Loschiavo.
“We’re starting to play pretty well,” Kroeker said on his line’s chemistry. “We had a lot of chances last game, we just couldn’t find the back of the net. For the most part though, I think we’re moving the puck well.”
Although, Kroeker is well aware that he’s going against his former team on Sunday afternoon, his focus is crystal clear.
“Obviously it’s on my mind, I knew when I was going to play them [after I got traded],” he said. “It’s mostly just important to win games [though].”
Kroeker believes that, in order to be successful, the team will need to get off to a quicker start and be more aggressive from the get-go.
“It was nice to see some emotion [against Moose Jaw] but it shouldn’t really [have] come in the third period,” he said, referencing goalie Payton Lee’s retaliation at the end of last Friday’s game. “It should come from more players [too].”
Puck drop on Saturday night goes at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s action goes at 4 p.m.