The Winnipeg ICE seemed to have a little extra hop in their step at this morning’s practice at The RINK Training Centre.
The local Western Hockey League team returned to work in good spirits after a thrilling win in their first home game in three weeks, a 6-5 nail-biter over the Brandon Wheat Kings Saturday night at the ICE Cave inside Wayne Fleming Arena.
Adding to the good vibes was some good news for captain Peyton Krebs.
The smooth playmaker was named one of 31 players invited to Hockey Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp slated for December 9-12 in Oakville, ON ahead of the upcoming World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic.
Krebs, who has five points in five games since the start of his season was delayed due to injury, captained Canada’s entry to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 IIHF World u-18 Championship in Sweden last spring.
Back to that boost from the weekend, the ICE finished off a busy November with two points against their arch-rivals from Westman with alternate captain Jakin Smallwood scoring the game-winner.
Smallwood has turned steady, hard-working play into goals of late. The Leduc, AB product has scored three times in the last four games but is thinking about the team first.
“It’s awesome to get home and play a team like Brandon, you know our arch-rivalry. It’s nice to have a win there,” said Jakin after today’s fast-paced 75 minute skate. “We battled hard throughout the whole game, and even in the second period we had guys down, a lot of scraps, we stuck with it throughout the game and we ultimately came out with the win so we’re happy with that.”
When pressed for a reason behind his recent offensive contributions, Smallwood pointed to sticking with it.
“I think I’m just starting to get some bounces, some pucks are finally starting to go in. I’m just starting to crash the net, I think that’s helping a lot, just sticking around the net and getting second and third chances.”
CROWD PROVIDES BOOST
There was something special in the air at the ICE Cave Saturday night as the the club celebrated minor hockey by wearing St. Vital Minor Hockey jerseys before a packed house.
“The atmosphere was awesome,” said a beaming Smallwood. “You know having a home atmosphere like that, it’s good for the home team just to stick with it and it was loud and I’m looking forward to the rest of the home games.”
The victory was the fourth in-a-row at home for Winnipeg and gave the team a 7-6-0-0 record for November, including 4-and-1 on the University of Manitoba campus.
BRONCOS UP NEXT
That hectic November behind them, it’s game two of a five-game homestand that matters now which means a visit by the Swift Current Broncos Wednesday.
“Swift Current, they’re just a hard-working team,” said Jakin likely thinking back to a couple of grinding wins against the Broncos this season. “They’re nitty-gritty, so I think we just got to balance that by also working hard, staying consistent, playing our game, holding onto pucks, spinning off guys and just battling hard throughout the whole game.”
The ICE and Broncos square off Wednesday, December 4th at 7:30 p.m. at the ICE Cave inside Wayne Fleming Arena.
Visit winnipegICE.ca for ticket information. All Fort Garry Brewing Beer Tall cans are $5.00 at the game and when you buy your tickets online in advance at winnipegICE.ca and use promo code WACKY – receive 15% off your purchase!