Expectations are high in Winnipeg this season, and the ICE are up to the challenge. After leading the WHL with 111 points in 2021-22, Winnipeg begins the 2022-23 season as the CHL’s top-ranked team and promises to bring an exciting, high-scoring brand of hockey to the Wayne Fleming Arena again this winter. Led by first-round NHL picks Matthew Savoie, Conor Geekie and Carson Lambos, the ICE aim to better their Eastern Conference Championship appearance from a season ago. And on paper at least, Winnipeg has all the tools required to do something special this season.
There are plenty of returning names to focus on in Winnipeg, but their trio of first-round NHL picks deserves serious attention. Matthew Savoie led all WHL rookies with 90 points last season, and led the ICE in scoring too, while Lambos and Geekie have ever-increasing star power at the WHL level. Connor McClennon, a 43-goal man a season ago, is back for his fifth season with the ICE, while Benjamin Zloty is a silky two-way defender coming off a 64-point campaign in 2021-22. Goaltender Daniel Hauser rewrote the CHL record book in 2021-22 as part of a campaign that saw him post a 34-3-1-0 record to go along with eight shutouts.
Who’s In And Out
The ICE made a handful of depth moves in the lead-up to the 2022-23 season, most recently acquiring forward Steven Arp from Medicine Hat earlier this week. Jaren Brinson will add depth to the blueline after skating with Prince George last season, while Jonas Woo, the Club’s first-round pick in the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, played big minutes during the playoffs as a 15-year-old last spring. Anaheim Ducks draftee Gage Alexander (Swift Current) was the most notable mid-summer departure, with forward Chase Wheatcroft (Prince George) and Tanner Brown (Red Deer) both set to play their trade in rival WHL cities this winter.
NHL Draft Prospects
Zach Benson cemented his place in an impressive 2023 NHL Draft-eligible class by scoring 25 goals and totalling 63 points as a 16-year-old a season ago. Benson, from Chilliwack, B.C., is an elusive, cerebral forward who head coach James Patrick unwaveringly deploys in all situations. Benson also won a gold medal with Canada this summer at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Defenceman Owen Harmacy is another interesting name to watch, his role on the Winnipeg blue line increased as the 2021-22 season progressed.
ICE BY THE NUMBERS (2021-22):
Team Record: 53-10-3-2 (111 points)
Division Ranking: 1st, East
2022 WHL Playoffs: Lost Eastern Conference Championship (Edmonton)
Goals For: 317 (1st)
Goals Against: 152 (1st)
PP (Overall): 27.4% (1st)
PK (Overall): 83.3% (3rd)
Leading Scorers: Savoie (35-55-90), McClennon (43-38-81), Milne (38-43-81)
Leading Rookie: Savoie (35-55-90)
NHL Draft: Finley (TB – 2020); Geekie (ARZ – 2022); Lambos (MIN – 2021); Milne (MIN – 2022); Savoie (BUF – 2022)