Sports & Recreation — 20 September 2017
SIJHL preseason Q&A: Dryden GM Ice Dogs

Dryden GM Ice Dogs Head Coach Kurt Walsten

Submitted by the SIJHL

The Dryden GM Ice Dogs begin their season on Sunday night at the Memorial Arena. 

Each of the SIJHL’s member clubs are busily preparing for the upcoming campaign with various practices, training sessions, scrimmages and exhibition contests.

The Dryden GM Ice Dogs will enter the upcoming 2017-18 campaign as the defending SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup champions.

Under the guidance of head coach and general manager Kurt Walsten, Dryden will look to repeat the sensational season they just had in 2016-17 where they posted a league-high and franchise-best 45-7-4-0 record before running the table in the SIJHL playoffs winning all eight league postseason games they played en route to the title.

The GM Ice Dogs will also host the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship, May 1-5, at Dryden’s Memorial Arena.

Here’s a look at the first SIJHL preseason Q&A, which features the Dryden GM Ice Dogs.

SIJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2017-18 season?

KURT WALSTEN: To keep Bill at home by winning the Bill Salonen Cup again this year. We want to be the hardest working team in the SIJHL.

SIJHL: What are your thoughts on what you’ve seen from the team so far and what do you expect to see throughout the season?

KW: We have a lot of young, skilled players. Based on our main camp, we have more skill and speed than last year. We’ll see how that translates in a game come September 22nd when the season gets underway.

SIJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?

KW: Tristan Knott is anchoring our defence at 6’5”, 250 lbs. He led our defence in scoring last season with 37 points, including 10 goals. We also have back Jason Bracko, who made the first team all-star at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in Trenton as well as being the second leading scorer in the SIJHL with 81 points. He was second in goals too with 41. We also have back last season’s SIJHL rookie of the year Eric Stout. He averaged well over a point-per-game for us.  

SIJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on? 

KW: Evan Walls is a skilled, 18-year-old rookie. Walls played the 2016-17 season with the Kamloops Storm of the KIJHL where he was named rookie of the year. He also played as an affiliate player with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL. Brendan Jay at 6’3”, 225 lbs is a solid skater for someone of his size and he adds to the physical presence on the back end. He was with a strong Soo Thunderbirds team in the NOJHL last year.

SIJHL: What style of play do you expect to instill into the club?

KW: We want to be the hardest working team in the SIJHL. If teams are going to beat us this season, they’re going to have to outwork us for 60 minutes.

SIJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?

KW: To repeat as the SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup champions.

SIJHL: As the host of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in 2018, how will you look to build around the experience the team had at last year’s event in Trenton?

KW: We have big skates to fill because of losing some of our 20-year-olds from last season – Braeden Allkins (SIJHL MVP and leading scorer), Derek McPhail (Team captain and leader in the room), Nic Noseworthy (played both forward and defence and was one of the tougher players in the SIJHL) and Patrick Zubick (Top goalie in the SIJHL). However, we’re up to the challenge to build another championship team and to do everything possible to make the City of Dryden proud of their hometown Dryden GM Ice Dogs.
KW: We have big skates to fill because of losing some of our 20-year-olds from last season – Braeden Allkins (SIJHL MVP and leading scorer), Derek McPhail (Team captain and leader in the room), Nic Noseworthy (played both forward and defence and was one of the tougher players in the SIJHL) and Patrick Zubick (Top goalie in the SIJHL). However, we’re up to the challenge to build another championship team and to do everything possible to make the City of Dryden proud of their hometown Dryden GM Ice Dogs.

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Chris Marchand is a native of Dryden, Ontario. He served his first newspaper internship at The Dryden Observer in 1998 while attending journalism studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C. He's worked desks as both reporter and editor at the Fernie Free Press as well as filled the role of sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. Marchand was named editor of the Dryden Observer in Aug. 2009.

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