Kootenay Ice take optimistic approach into net BCMMHL season
By Bruce Fuhr
The Nelson Daily Sports
Now the fun begins.
The Kootenay Ice kick off the 2011-12 B.C. Major Midget Hockey League season with plenty of optimism as the interior based squad heads to Vancouver Island for a two-game set Saturday and Sunday in Nanaimo against the North Island Silvertips.
And new head coach Mario DiBella isn’t shy about what his goal is for this new group of 15-17-year-old midget hockey players.
“We are looking to make the playoffs for the first time in Ice history,” stated the veteran bench boss.
That goal will not be easy to achieve after the Ice, under the coach last season of Simon Wheeldon, lost the likes of 18-goal scorer Jesse Knowler of Castlegar and Nelson’s Dryden Hunt to the Western Hockey League and sniper Luke Bertolucci to the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL.
However, DiBella believes he has the players ready to fill the skates of the rookie Tier I hockey players.
“We have Jake Lucchini (Trail), Darren Medeiros (Castlegar) and Quinn Klimchuk (Castlegar) who are equally as talented as the (Hunt, Knowler and Bertolucci),” DiBella said of his three second-year players.
“We’ve also added Mitch Foyle (Fruitvale), Jeremy McGregor (Christina Lake) and Brandon Savaia (Grand Forks) as talented first years that can put the busier in the basket.”
The Ice has three grads from the Nelson Minor Hockey Association in Colton Dachwitz, Greyson Reitmeier and late edition Brandon Sookro.
Cole Arcuri, thought to be a lock to make the Ice at defence, decided to return to the Okanagan Hockey Association.
After the Island trip, the Ice are idle until opening the home part of the season October 8-9 at the NDCC Arena against Okanagan Rockets.
The home dates will shift around rinks in the West Kootenay, with stops in Castlegar, Trail and Grand Forks.
DiBella likes the idea of showcasing the players throughout the region.
“I feel it’s good for the program and it provides home games where the players live,” said DiBella, who has former Nelson Leaf assistant coach Sean Dooley with him behind the Ice bench.
The B.CMMHL was established in 2004 to provide elite level 15, 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to play at a high level within their age group.
Each year all Major Midget League teams have the opportunity to compete for the National Midget Championship.
Kootenay finished the 2010-11 season in 10th spot with a 8-25-7 record with the Vancouver Northwest Giants winning the BCMMHL title.