It’s been a whirlwind week for Kootenay Ice captain Cale Fleury.
The Carlyle, Sask. product got the chance of a lifetime when he earned a late addition to Team Cherry’s roster at the CHL Top Prospects Game, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.
Fleury got the news last Saturday that he would be replacing Seattle Thunderbirds blueliner Jarret Tyszka at the big game, just two days before the puck dropped in Quebec City. But even that wasn’t the hardest part. The young two-way defenceman helped secure Team Cherry’s first win since 2010 with a 7-5 victory, and 24 hours later he was on the ice in Medicine Hat to take on the Tigers — where he notched an assist in a hard-fought 4-3 loss.
“It was a long day, for sure. I was up at 4:30 a.m. eastern time, which is 2:30 a.m. (in Medicine Hat), so it was definitely a long one,” said Fleury, adding it was all worth it. “It was a great experience. Being a late add-in it was pretty exciting. It went by really fast because I learned late that I was going, but it was awesome.”
Fleury — who boasts eight goals and 23 assists through his first 51 games and sits 37th among North American skaters as per International Scouting Services — added it was a great opportunity to see what kind of talent lies beyond the regular reach of the Dub, especially considering his aspirations to follow behind brother Haydn Fleury — a former Red Deer Rebels blueliner drafted seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It was pretty neat to see some of the talents they’ve got out in those leagues. I’m not really familiar with any of those guys so it was fun to see,” he said, adding they got the star treatment while staying in Quebec. “We stayed at a really nice hotel and we were treated really well through the whole thing so it was pretty neat.”
While the Ice are battling to stay above the bottom of the standings at 12-33-7-1 entering this weekend’s games, they’re certainly a squad with future aspirations. Fleury is one of nine 18-year-old players in Kootenay’s lineup, and just four players will entering next season as overagers. The club also boasts 10 rookies with at least 20 games under their belt, and 2016 first overall bantam draft pick Peyton Krebs — who has six points in six games as an affiliate — will be eligible to crack the team full-time next season.
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