When it came to the ICE organization, one of the big questions many people had was how would they respond after last season. It was a season in which the team won just 13 games, the second-fewest in the Western Hockey League.
They scored just 181 goals which were only more than four other teams and they allowed 324 goals, by far the most in the league. They also lost eight of their last 10 games.
Whether it was a relocation or just an extra year of experience for some players and a solid cast also brought in, but the now Winnipeg ICE dramatically turned the table. Moving from Kootenay to Winnipeg was set to be a big step for the team, one they completed with flying colours.
When this year’s season was cut short due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Winnipeg was in second place in the East Division, just five points back of Prince Albert for the top spot. They had the seventh-most goals in the league at 231 and they won their last four games.
The ICE also added up 38 wins throughout the season. There were a ton of positives about this year’s ICE team and we’ll break down a lot of it. Before we get to the positives, there is no doubt that Winnipeg left points out on the table. Yes, the team scored a lot; however, they also gave up quite a lot.
Goals against: 207
The ICE gave up the eighth-most goals in the entire league. Of playoff teams, only the Kelowna Rockets (208) and Seattle Thunderbirds (240) gave up more through the course of the season.
Winnipeg gave up at least five goals in 14 games this season. The most in one single game was when they gave up 10 against Edmonton, a team they couldn’t solve this season.
Things were looking up though as the season came to an end. They gave up just six goals in their last five games.
So giving up goals was a little blunder in the ICE’s success and perhaps held them back from ending the season as the top team in the East Division. However, there was a ton of great things about this year’s team so let’s dive into that.
A name you would see on the stat sheet nearly every game was 20-year-old Isaac Johnson. The former Tri-City American scored 28 goals for Winnipeg this season and he added 45 points. He was also a +14 which was second-best on the team behind Carson Lambos.
Peyton Krebs only played 38 games this season due to injury and in these games, he was extremely productive. He finished the season with 60 points (12G), three less than Michal Teply who finished second in team scoring. He also had five game-winning goals which are quite incredible seeing as he only played in 38 games. For comparison, Johnson played in 62 games and he also had five.
Michal Teply is no doubt a contender for the Rookie of the Year award. He had 63 points in 53 games to lead all rookies in scoring this season across the league. Teply also had a team-leading eight game-winning goals. Teply was selected by Winnipeg in the CHL Import Draft last off-season.
Liam Hughes: I’d be falling very short if I didn’t talk about this man of Andover, Minnesota. Hughes kept Winnipeg in several games and had his most successful WHL career to date.
He went 21-11 with a 2.53 G.A.A to go along with a .914 save percentage. Fun fact about Liam this season, he was a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout when it comes to saves.
Carson Lambos: Points wise, Lambos finished 28th when it came to rookie scoring with his 32 points which certainly isn’t a bad number for a man in his rookie season. It’s his defensive game where he really showed what he could do as many expected. Just as Teply, I also believe that Lambos is a contender for Rookie of the Year. He’s the only rookie defenceman in the top 30 in scoring. He was also a solid +20 which is the 22nd best among defenceman and second among rookie defenceman.
These are just a few players that helped Winnipeg to a very solid season, one that included 25 more wins than last year.
The last time an ICE team won more than 30 games in a season was way back in the 2014-2015 campaign when they went 37-31-1-3 in 72 games. This year’s team surpassed that and they still had five games left.
With a solid cast of rookies and more experienced players eligible to return next year, we should expect more of the same from Winnipeg. The 2019-2020 season truly was a fun one, what will the 2020-2021 season bring? In due time, we will find out.