Friday, December 31, 2010
- It's the final day of 2010 on New Year's Eve... but I don't think anyone will be getting too out of control here following last night's 7-1 loss in Kelowna. The Blazers couldn't beat G Adam Brown and the Rockets were stymied by G Jeff Bosch halfway through the game. Then, a long shot from Cody Chikie handcuffed Bosch (it may have went off a defenders stick) and the Rockets scored what was the all-important first goal. Two wrap-around goals within a few minutes on the Blazers put them into an insurmountable 3-0 hole after two. The Blazers were outshooting the Rockets at the time, but the Rockets were winning the goaltending battle. The Rockets had six 2nd period shots - three found the twine.
- The third period saw the Blazers get away from the game-plan. Mistakes led to scoring chances which led to goals. Cam Lanigan replaced Bosch for the third period. Blazer C Chase Schaber broke the shutout bid with 4:10 to play when his low shot found the mark.
- G Adam Brown was named 1st star in the building. In the last three Blazer losses, goaltenders have been the #1 star. Regan Bartel saw this game the same way. For a 2nd opinion go visit his blog.
- F Brendan Ranford didn't play much of the third period. He took a shot in the leg. He was kept out for precautionary reasons. His status for tomorrow night's game against the T-Birds is favorable.
- Seattle plays tonight in Portland while the Blazers will have the night off. We will see if it's a factor tomorrow night.
- Have a great night if you're planning on celebrating. Either going out, or having a low-key night at home. Here's to 2011.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
- The Blazers are now 6-9-0-0 against BC division teams. Their 2nd half schedule features of a ton divisional games. They wrap up a stretch of five straight divisional games tomorrow night in Kelowna.
- Thomas Frazee scored in his Blazer home-ice debut. He now has three goals and two assists in four games with his new club.
- It was good to see Corey Fienhage get his first WHL goal. It was a long time coming. His PP goal capped the scoring in last night's win. There should be more to come. It finished as a three-point night for the former NCAA defenseman
- Last night was probably the toughest broadcast I've ever done. Battling the flu and sickness, I thought I could get through it. I was wrong. I took advantage of the radio time-out in the third period to head to the bathroom. While I won't give you the details...it wasn't pretty. Thanks to colorman Ian Douglas for pinch-hitting for about 3-4 minutes of play-by-play. In 600 or so games, that was a first.
- Blazer F Logan McVeigh and D Brady Gaudet begin in the World Under 17 Challenge in Winnipeg today. The two Team West players battle Team Pacific to begin the round robin.
- Blazer forwards Dalibor Bortnak (Slovakia) and Bernhard Keil (Germany) remain pointless at the World Junior Championships. Slovakia edged Germany 2-1 in Monday's round robin game.
- Former Blazer Lyndon Martell scored a last minute goal for the Pats last night in Regina to tie the game 3-3. The Pats later won in the shootout.
- Speaking of newspapers... Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week put together this piece early last week. Warning, it's very self-serving.
- We are back on the air tomorow night in Kelowna as the Blazers battle the Rockets. Pre-game show at 6:30, the play-by-play at 7pm on Radio NL.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Details of the trade are available at www.vancouvergiants.com
The Giants get great return for a four or five month player. This has to be one of the highest returns for a 20 year-old forward in many, many years. That's a great trade for Giants GM Scott Bonner.
The new Giants, F Spencer Bennett and F Teal Burns aren't expected to play tonight vs the Blazers.
The trick though is to follow it up tonight and sweep the home-and-home set. The Giants didn't play there best game and also are lacking some key pieces in their line-up. I'm expecting them to be better tonight.
The Blazers will welcome back both F Jordan DePape and D Brandon Underwood into the line-up. Both have served their suspensions.
Thomas Frazee makes his home ice debut. He's scored twice and added two assists in his first three games in a Blazer uniform.
More later tonight....
Monday, December 27, 2010
Now, with a sandwich, a drink and a fresh slate, the Blazers have some renewed optimism as they sit on the 10th tee.
If you want to make a further comparison, the Blazers may be short three or four clubs in the bag to begin the back as seven regulars will be out of the line-up tonight. The list is as follows:
F Dalibor Bortnak - Slovakia WJ
F Bernard Keil - Germany WJ
F Logan Mcveigh - Team West U-17
D Brady Gaudet - Team West U-17
F Jordan DePape - game five of a five game suspension
D Brandon Underwood - one game suspension
D Josh Caron - collarbone (more below)
The Blazers enter the game with 15 skaters tonight against the Giants but their opposition is the last team you would expect sympathy from. The Giants have played without several bodies for most of the season and are now just starting to get some of them back.
As for D Josh Caron, visa problems delayed his trip to Minnesota to get evaluated by the Wild. It means he'll fly out either today or tomorrow with Visa in hand. He will spend a couple days before returning home.
The Blazers will have call-ups F Matt Needham and D Landon Cross in the line-up tonight. For Cross, it's his WHL debut. He will be the Blazers fifth defenseman and the coaching staff will try to work him into good situations in tonight's game.
The game kicks off a home-and-home set. The Blazers return home to host the Giants tomorrow night at ISC.
We're on the air tonight at 6:30pm on Radio NL with the pre-game show, play-by-play at 7.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
For me, it was 3300 kms back and forth to Saskatchewan with three or four stops throughout the province. Definitely rushed, but happy to be back for the 2nd half of the season.
Several of the players are flying into Vancouver today. The bus will pick them up and a skate is set for later this evening to try and shake off the rust and Christmas cheer.
I'll blog later tonight once we get settled in. The Blazers are looking at a short staffed line-up again as they begin the 2nd half with several players out with either suspension, World Juniors or the U-17 Challenge. I'll break down who's in and who's not for tomorrow night's game.
One question mark is D Josh Caron. We will find out what Minnesota had to say about his collarbone and if he's good to play.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I don't think there's a tougher way to lose than what happened last night. The game-winning goal coming with just 28 seconds to play to break a 2-2 tie. The game appeared headed for overtime. The Blazers are finding ways to lose right now.
A frustrated Guy Charron appeared on last night's post-game show but a night's sleep and a new day has changed his perspective somewhat. Today he talked about the fact they played a strong game, out chancing the Cougars 23-13. He felt Cougars G Ty Rimmer was a big part of the 3-2 win.
So we'll see what unfolds tonight. Often times these two game series are tough to sweep. The Cougars have yet to sweep a two-game set on home-ice for some time now.
After seven straight starts, G Jeff Bosch will back-up tonight. Cam Lanigan gets the call in goal for the Blazers.
A nice sunny day in PG... enjoy the rest of Saturday. Talk to you tonight....
Friday, December 17, 2010
- Thomas Frazee will make his Blazers debut wearing #25 tonight and could be featured on the top line alongside Chase Schaber and Brendan Ranford.
- The game features the two teams who have given up the most goals against in the Western Conference. The Blazers at 139 and the Cougars at 122.
- This is the first of two games this weekend between the teams. Tomorrow night is the Cougars annual Teddy Bear Toss Night. Last year the event drew nearly 4300 fans.
- Key players on both sides will be out. For the Blazers F Dalibor Bortnak (Slovakia WJ) and F Jordan DePape (suspended) will not play. For the Cougars F Brett Connolly (Canada WJ) and D Martin Marancin (Slovakia WJ) will be scratched.
- We have the broadcast tonight on Radio NL with the pre-game show at 6:30, the Play-by-Play at 7pm. Guests include newly acquired F Thomas Frazee and Prince George native Dylan Willick.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Logan McVeigh wheels in the skater sharpener and jerseys
The ringer - Head Coach Guy Charron shows off his talents. He easily posted the best score of the staff, twice.
- The Blazers coaching staff was pleased with the effort in Portland. With 10 forwards, the Blazers hung with the Winterhawks but in the end, it was a reoccurring theme – the penalty kill just couldn’t get the job done. A late goal by Sven Bertschi was the game winner with 3:21 to play. The Hawks finishing the night 3/5 on the powerplay
-You heard it here first. Switzerland will medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships this year. When I asked Portland F Nino Niederrietter the chances of that he shied away from the statement rather playing the underdog card instead. Swiss hockey has come a long way.. The team they sent to Saskatoon last year was pretty good. They return a lot of players including their all-star goaltender of last year’s tournament.
- It’s a cruel game. The Blazers, who had won six straight games on the road earlier this season, have now lost seven straight away from Interior Savings Center.
- 16 year-old call-up Aspen Sterzer showed me he’s got a bright future in the WHL. He got his nose dirty, played a smart game and showed some confidence. This kid is living the life. Just a couple days ago he’s playing “AAA” midget hockey in Calgary. Then he’s jumping on a plane for Kamloops, bussing through the Pacific Northwest and playing hockey in Portland’s Rose Garden. He’ll have some stories for his midget teammates.
- Brendan Ranford added a couple of goals and a helper to increase his league lead in goals (28) and points (53). How many people would have picked Ranford to be leading the league in scoring at the midway point?
- Great job by Blazer captain Chase Schaber. Chase served his one-game suspension with myself in the broadcast booth as my color commentator. We went over a few things before we flipped the switch and he took the ball and ran with it.
- Schaber gets back on the ice tomorrow night in Prince George – a place he’s likely more comfortable. The cavalry arrives somewhat as D Josh Caron is set to make his return after a 13 week absence with a broken collarbone. The Blazers will also insert newly acquired F Thomas Frazee into the mix. He’ll likely jump on the top line along with Schaber and Brendan Ranford.
- The Blazer coaching staff had Caron on the bench for the game in Portland as an Assistant Coach. It was a chance for him to see the game from a different perspective.
- “He’s the toughest defenseman in the Western Conference” – the words of Prince George Cougar colorman Al Bristowe when describing Sena Acolatse Tuesday night. I’m thinking Caron may stake a claim to that title. 13 weeks in the stands though may mean he has some catching up to do.
- The team stopped for an 8am breakfast at a local diner in 100 Mile House. Imagine the scene as 26 weary-eyed players and staff took over the local morning coffee spot. I think Sea-Bass and the boys were sitting over in the corner.
- What do you do with a day off in Prince George? How ‘bout some bowling? Check back for pics later.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Obviously the news about the trade is out (see below). I think the Blazers were looking for more production with their 20 year-old spots. This move should begin to address it.
In Thomas Frazee, the Blazers get a big-bodied forward who's scored 13 goals, added 24 assists for 37 points in 33 games.
It will be Frazee's fifth WHL team. He started in Portland before being traded to Medicine Hat. He spent last two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors before being traded to Regina just before the regular season.
I think the Blazers will give Frazee a chance to come in and play with some good players - he may even slide into the top line with Jordan DePape serving four more games of his five game suspension.
The suspension announcements didn't really surprise me. I was thinking five to seven games was the likely number for DePape. The league is targeting the blind side hits. This was an example. Factor that in plus the injury to Hutt and there you have it.
Depape will be eligible to return for the 2nd game of the 2nd half when the Blazers host the Vancouver Giants December 28th at ISC.
As for Schaber, one game is the likely scenario. He's made the trip and will return to the line-up Friday night in Prince George.
With the loss of Schaber and Dalibor Bortnak to Slovakia's World Junior team, the Blazers are pretty thin at center tomorrow night against the Winterhawks.
Colin Smith, Logan McVeigh, and Aspen Sterzer become the top three centers barring another forward stepping into the role. It'll be a tough contest no doubt. Keep in mind, the Winterhawks will be short some of their talented players as well.
The Blazers will play the Winterhawks at the Rose Garden. It'll be the first time in four seasons the Blazers have played in the new rink.
The club will be trying to snap a six-game slide on the road. The last road win was November 5th in Calgary.
Monday, December 13, 2010
To make matters worse, Blazer captain Chase Schaber is also facing suspension following a game misconduct Saturday night in Spokane for an "inappropriate gesture". It's also his 2nd game misconduct this season. That usually goes with an automatic one-game suspension...
We will wait and see.... I'll blog the info when I get it.
The Blazers have again recalled F Aspen Sterzer. The 16 year-old was called up earlier this season after the "Portland Punch-up" where several Blazers faced suspensions.
Sterzer will join the team on the three game road swing to close off the first half.
The Blazers have signed 2010 2nd round bantam pick Cole Ully to a WHL players contract.
Ully, who reigns from Calgary, was selected by the Blazers 30th overall in the draft. The high scoring forward is leading the Midget AAA Calgary Flames in scoring with 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points in 20 games this season.
“We are very happy that Cole and his family have committed to the Kamloops Blazers and to play in the WHL,” General Manager Craig Bonner said. “Cole is a very talented and hard-working player. He will be a terrific fit for our team in the future. We now have signed our top four picks from the 2010 Bantam Draft.”
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Again, undisciplined play led to four PP goals by the Chiefs in a 10-5 win. They scored on their first PP just 1:53 into the game.
The Chiefs just don't let up. Whether it's 2-1 or 10-1, they keep coming. They're a good squad. The best "team" in the Western Conference right now. Head Coach Don Nachbaur has his players going. All the time, for 60 minutes.
The Blazers play is made them look like world beaters though. Head Coach Guy Charron pointed a finger at the defense last night in our post-game show. He said they're not getting the job done.
Jeff Bosch was yanked after five goals against on 41 shots - midway thru the 2nd period. Cam Lanigan played the rest of the way also surrendering five goals - three of them came on partial breakaways.
The Blazers will likely be without Chase Schaber again. He was given a game misconduct for what the referee deemed an inappropriate gesture following a dust-up with D Brendon Kichton in the first period. Schaber engaged Kichton in a fight after a check on JT Barnett.
The 64 shots allowed was easily the most they've given up all season. There was a lot of 2nd and 3rd opportunities that added to the total.
Young D Brady Gaudet finished the night with his first career WHL hat-trick. His season goal total jumped from one to four following a trio of longer, screened shots from the left point that found their way into the Chiefs' goal.
The other two goals were also from unlikely sources as F Ryan Hanes collected his third of the season and F Shayne Neigum scored his first of the season to round out the scoring in the the third period.
In all, it was a rough night for the BC division. Four of the five division teams all lost. The lone exception was Chilliwack who posted a 4-1 win in Medicine Hat.
It's expected the league will rule on a suspension for F Jordan DePape on Monday. I shared a few words with DePape on Sunday. He was very excited to hear that Bronco F Killian Hutt was OK and has re-joined his team.
DePape didn't make the trip to Spokane.
The Blazers are back on the road early in the week. They head to Portland for a Wednesday game. Following that game, they make a long trek north to Prince George to finish up the first half of the season with a pair of games against the Cougars.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
There was concern all over the rink for Hutt. On the ice, both teams were all one knee on the ice. Three Bronco teammates huddled around Hutt as both teams’ medical staff worked on the injured player. Broncos Trainer Jaime LeBlanc “Butter” immediately signalled for help when getting to Hutt on the ice. Killian isn’t a player I know personally but in talking to his teammates, he’s a guy that’s fit in and is well liked in the room. He’s friends with Blazer captain Chase Schaber. Schaber had a lot of concern and emotion in his voice when asked about the situation in our post-game show.
Great job by the two trainers, the Blazer team doctor and the paramedics. Great team effort. These guys are the unsung heroes of junior hockey.
Bronco broadcaster Shawn Mullin is keeping an eye on Hutt's condition. His link is over on the right side.
- Chase Schaber finished off a beautiful goal late in the 2nd period on a three-way passing play with linemates Brendan Ranford and Jordan DePape. Watch for this one on WHL Plays of the Week.
- Brendan Ranford’s teddy bear tossing goal 49 seconds into the 2nd period led to a Ranford celebration. As he pumped his fist, his glove flew off and ended up a few rows into the stands. He eventually got his glove back. Funny stuff.
- One teddy bear got hung up in the netting over the glass in the Broncos end. The Blazer players lent their sticks to some people in the stands to see if they could whack it free. It was tied up pretty good. It eventually came down but took some “coaxing”.
- Cody Eakin was as advertised. He scored both Bronco goals and logged a ton of minutes. The Bronco forward has collected six goals and three assists so far in the three games through their BC swing. I had a chance post-game to wish him good luck at Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp in Toronto. I told him I couldn’t wait to watch him play over the holidays. Cody will show the Nation what he’s about over the next month.
- Eakin may have had the line of the night when engaging in a verbal battle with Blazer F Ryan Hanes. After Hanes had said something to the Broncos forward, Eakin responded with “I can’t even say anything to you… you look like that pirate.., Captain Hook.” Hanes has the full beard and moustache going. He does bare a resemblance. Ryan Hanes is one of the biggest characters in the league. One of the good guys no doubt.
- The Blazers killed off all seven Bronco powerplays. Personally, I think it had more to do with the Broncos misfiring on passes, and their sloppy play than it did with anything the Blazers were doing.
- The powerplay advantages favoured the Broncos 7-1. I know the Blazer coaching staff was baffled as to why it was so lopsided.
- It was good catching up with some of the Bronco players. They have a good crew over there. I wish those guys the best. It was a fun game to call. I hope they can add a couple pieces and make a push in the playoffs this season. I think that’s what Mark Lamb intends to do over the next month.
- The Blazers departed right after the game for Spokane. Spokane played in Vancouver last night. The two teams arrived at Spokane arena within minutes of each other. Both teams unloaded at the same time. This should at least level the playing field somewhat.
That's all for now... I'll try to update again before the 7pm face-off.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
"I came out, I didn't see any pucks and I was like uh-oh, we're gonna be in for one today," said a fatigued Brendan Ranford following Wednesday's bag skate.
D Corey Fienhage equated it to the movie "Miracle" when Herb Brooks wasn't pleased following a game.
"It was like... again...again....again. Maybe it wasn't as bad as that but those back-and-forths were pretty grueling."
All in all the Blazers seemed pretty accepting of their punishment. The feeling was it'll make them better in the long run.
"No one complained, we knew it was coming. It was just one of those practices you have to suck it up and get it done," Fienhage continued.
The Blazers will know get ready for the Swift Current Broncos tomorrow night at Interior Savings Center.
The Broncos come in cutting a swath through the BC division so far with wins in Chilliwack and Kelowna. The guy pictured to the left is on fire to make matters even more challenging for the Blazers.
Eakin has collected four goals and three helpers in those two games. This is the last game he'll play before departing for Toronto for the World Junior Selection Camp.
If you've stopped by the blog over the past few years you've no doubt noticed a lot of Eakin talk.
The kid has come a long way since his first games in the league at 15.
It's not often someone earns an AHL Championship ring before a WHL title but Eakin can claim that after an extended post-season with the Washington Capitals farm club in Hershey.
He only gets better when challenged. If he has a game-within-game going on with someone from the opposition he's going to win it. It's best to let sleeping dogs lie.
The Broncos will roll three pretty good lines tomorrow. Justin Dowling and Taylor Vause also don't need a lot of room to hurt you.
F Stepan Novotny has missed a stretch of games with a knee injury but is on the trip and may play at some point.
The Broncos young blue-line may be what the Blazers will have to target. It should be a good match-up.
For the Blazers, it's the last chance to make an impression on home ice in the first half as they will finish off with four straight on the road before the Christmas break.
The Blazers will depart for Spokane following the game. It's the same situation they were in a couple weeks ago when they headed south after the game against Regina.
However there is a slight change this time. Two weeks ago, Spokane didn't play on the Friday night and were waiting for the Blazers to come in. This time around, they are in Vancouver tomorrow night and will have to bus back home. The trip is a couple hours shorter than Kamloops to Spokane.
The Chiefs will also be without captain Jared Cowen who will be off to Toronto for World Junior camp.
Finally a big welcome-back to blogging for Ryan Switzer. His blog had been gathering dust the last three months. You can check his link over on the right.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers will have three prospects at the 2011 Under 16 Canada Winter Games in Halifax from February 10th-18th.
Forward Matthew Needham and defenseman Joshua Connolly will both play for Team BC at the event and Cole Ully will suit up for Team Alberta. All three players were selected by the Blazers in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
Needham, chosen in the 1st round, 8th overall, is playing with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget Prep team. He has 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 22 games this season. The 15-year-old also has played in 2 games with the Blazers this season and recorded a goal in his second game.
Connolly was selected in the 3rd round of the WHL Bantam Draft. He has had a terrific season with the Cariboo Cougars of the BC Major Midget League with 6 goals, 18 assists and 24 points in 22 games. The native of Prince George is currently leading the league in defenseman scoring.
Ully was picked up in the 2nd round of the draft. He is playing with the Calgary Flames of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. The 15-year-old Calgary native is leading his team in scoring this season with 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points in 20 games.
“This is a great opportunity for these three players,” Director of Player Personnel, Matt Recchi said. “We would like to congratulate them on being selected to represent their province, and look forward to monitoring their development over the coming year.”
- So what will practice be like today following comments in our post-game show last night in Vancouver (see post below) ?
Head Coach Guy Charron wasted no time getting up to the broadcast booth at Pacific Coliseum. He had something to say. Personally, I like the fire and passion.
I'll let you know how today goes.
- It was great to have legendary Public Address announcer for the Canucks and Giants John Ashbridge on our broadcast last night. It was fun to sit back and hear his stories about his other ventures such as commercial voicing, video game work and his movie role in "Miracle".
John has such a recognizable sound and is very familiar to Canuck fans. He's been in the his role since 1987.
His greatest moment behind the mic? Easy.
"Team Canada goal scored by number 87 Sidney Crosby, assisted by number 12 Jarome Iginla"
The Golden Goal.
- Had a near run in with the former team yesterday. The Swift Current Broncos were just leaving the restaurant in Chilliwack after their post-game meal following a 5-4 win over the Bruins. The 10:30AM start had the the Broncos and Blazers crossing paths outside the restaurant's parking lot as the Blazers stopped for their pre-game meal before the game in Vancouver.
A few texts went back and forth."Cut the chord" Was quipped in my direction from one of the Blazers staff.
The Blazers and Broncos meet Friday night at ISC. Face-off at 7pm.
- Speaking of Friday night....
(logo courtesy Ashley Neuls, Blazer office)
Segal made some glorious saves, including 16 stops in the 2nd period as the Blazers forced the issue.
Was it a case of a hot-goaltender? Perhaps, but Blazer Head Coach Guy Charron wasn’t on board with that train of thought as he lamented his team during Radio NL’s post-game show.
“We didn’t stick to the game-plan, plain and simple. We are playing a team with several injuries and short line-up, and we weren’t on the same page tonight,” commented a visibly upset Charron.
"We had a plan to follow, and we didn’t. Instead we turned pucks over in the neutral zone and didn’t play their top line at all like we had talked about. This is why we're a .500 team."
Charron didn’t hold back.
“It was our top line. They need to be better. Our best players weren’t our best players. They need to lead by example, and they didn’t do it.”
When asked what the preparation would be heading into Friday night’s game at home vs Swift Current Charron was short and to the point:
“I guess I’m going to have to make their lives miserable.”
For the Blazers, it was the 5th straight loss on the road. This downward turn comes after winning six in a row away from ISC in October/November. The game also marks the first time they’ve been shutout this season.
The Blazers outshot the Giants 31-27. They were 0/4 on the powerplay. The Giants 2nd period goal game on the PP courtesy Brendan Rowinski. The Giants finished 1/5 on the man advantage.
The Giants lost D David Musil to an apparent injury. He didn’t play in the third period.
The Blazers return home to host Swift Current Friday in what will be the Blazers teddy bear toss night. It’s their final home of the 1st half. They will play the final four games on the road.
Monday, December 06, 2010
- A couple of "A's" were sewn back on Blazer jerseys for Saturday's game. Two weeks after they were stripped off following a 10-1 loss in Spokane, both Bronson Maschmeyer and Dylan Willick were wearing them against the Hitmen. For Maschmeyer, it's the return of his letter while for Willick it was something new. Obviously Willick has earned it in the eyes of the coaching staff after starting the season without one.
- The Blazers have a tough schedule from now until Christmas. In total, they play six games. Five of those six on the road (Vancouver, Spokane, Portland, PG, PG). The lone home game is vs Swift Current Friday.
Playing in Vancouver is always tough. The Spokane game comes Saturday night after the Blazers home game vs Swift Current meaning they will depart following the game for Spokane. The last time they did this was two weeks ago and it no doubt play a part in the lopsided loss to the Chiefs. Portland is leading the Western Conference. The final two games before Christmas are up in PG and will challenge the Blazers who have lost their last two games vs the Cougars.
- Get ready for a steady diet of BC division opponents. The Blazers will only play 14 divisional games in the first half of the season. After the Christmas break, the Blazers have 20 games against BC division opponents
- DJ OTP and DJ Woodsauce03. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check out this link to the story courtesy Marty Hastings and Kamloops This Week. He shows you another side of Blazer D Brandon Underwood and F JT Barnett. It was good to have Marty stop by Saturday night for our first intermission "Hockey Talk".
So Brayden Schenn is back with the Wheat Kings.
I know Kelly McCrimmon won't part with Schenn easily but it is the right move for the Wheat Kings GM. Not having Schenn basically until mid-January after World Juniors doesn't give the Wheat Kings a big window for a charge up the Eastern Conference standings. Plus, with what the Wheat Kings surrendered in young talent last season (Jordan DePape, Klarc Wilson, Dallas Ehrhardt) plus a 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks and a third rounder to bulk up for the Memorial Cup, this would be a great opportunity to re-stock the shelves. Throw in Scott Glennie and you're close to getting back almost all of what you gave up last year. Sure, the temptation to hold onto the duo gives the Wheat Kings a pretty formidable top-six forward group. In this case though "the juice just ain't worth the squeeze"
In Brandon's case, having Brayden Schenn go to World Juniors will up his value. All the attention these players get over the two week period has teams lining up if one is available. Every time Jordan Eberle scored another clutch goal for Canada last year, his value rose dramatically. Brandon could benefit in the same way with Schenn.
There is risk to this. A serious injury to Schenn would end it. If you want proof, look no further than the Prince George Cougars when Dana Tyrell was hurt during World Junior Camp. The market crashed.
Kelly doesn't need my advice though. He's the smartest and most craftiest GM in the league.
Expect the price for adding assets to your team to be through the roof this year. Why? There will be way more buyers than sellers. Supply and demand.
In the West, I don't think there's a team that will look to subtract any pieces. There will be two very pissed-off teams that miss the playoffs on this side. Look for every team in the market to improve their team for a playoff push - or at least try to improve.
I don't think anyone is to fall on their sword and concede anything to the Portland Winterhawks on this side. Although, Portland does hold a lot of the cards. With their young talent and an open 20 year old spot, expect the Winterhawks to make a splash and soon.
In the East, Red Deer, Saskatoon and Kootenay have established themselves. Medicine Hat is too good up-front not to make a push. Their recent trip through the U.S. division probably solidifies their thoughts.
Moose Jaw feels they have enough talent to work with while Swift Current has all sorts of scoring potential, they just haven't scored yet. I'm sure GM Mark Lamb has been fielding calls for the Eakins and Dowlings of the world but at this point, he's not taking offers.
Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Prince Albert need to find their direction soon. Regina should get fair return for F Carter Ashton when they move him. They might even get back the 1st rounder they gave up for him.
Just think what the Pats could have in the years to come if they would have moved Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert last year. Mind boggling really.
Calgary will have to play nearly .650 hockey the rest of the way to make a playoff push. D Matt Mckenzie would be a great addition to any team's top D pairing. F Jimmy Bubnick has been about as consistent as prairie weather this year. Still, he could fetch something back for the Hitmen.
It's going to be an interesting five weeks up until deadline day.
Friday, December 03, 2010
5-0n-3 powerplays were handed out like Halloween candy as the Blades scored 5-0n-3 in overtime for the 4-3 win.
Blame the two man system, or something else. The Blazers scored on a 5-on-3 to start the game just 2:51 seconds in. They would get a 2nd two-man advantage later in the game
I dare you to find another recent two-man advantage in overtime. It'a about as rare as moon-landing. Not only was it a 5-on-3, it was for a full two-minutes. The Blazers got through a 1:14, of it, but as soon as the powerplay was awarded, the result was inevitable.
The building was very loud in overtime as the fans showed their disdain for the calls from referees Iverson and Raphael for calls to Brendan Ranford and Chase Schaber.
Credit the Blades for playing hard in the third to come back from a 3-1 deficit. The Blades showed why they are the top team in the Eastern Conference - the best of the East teams I've seen this season.
Blazer D Corey Fienhage looked to suffer an injury late in the third period. He stayed on the bench but never saw action in the last seven minutes of the third and overtime.
The Blazers host the Calgary Hitmen tomorrow night at ISC to conclude a four-game homestand.
Note: All around the league, it seems like more and more centerman are getting waved out of draws or play is whistled down just after the puck is dropped to stop play. It happened time and time again in this contest. Centerman waved out of draws on both sides only slows the game down to a crawl.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Tomorrow night is Food Bank Night - Kamloops Food Bank will be collecting non-perishable items and monetary donation.
At hand, the Blazers host the Eastern Conference leading Saskatoon Blades. The Blades are 2-0 on their BC swing so far with wins in Vancouver and Chilliwack.
The Blades are a much different looking team yet equally effective compared to last season.
They were a team that ruled with toughness and intimidation last year but gone are the likes of F Randy McNaught, F Curt Gogol, F Charles Inglis and F/D Sena Acolatse. Through the team transformation, the Blades still find themselves in a familiar spot this season.
Ranked #5 in the latest CHL Top 10 rankings, the Blades will be the most complete team to come through amongst east division teams this season.
It's been a real quiet week for the Blazers. Nose to the grind-stone, hard practices but not much of anything going on with the team. Jeff Bosch will show off his new mask tomorrow night as he gets the call in goal after missing the last four games.
I saw his mask today before practice. The number "30" appears on the back...Bosch just made the move to "31" with the departure of G John Groenheyde. Also, they forgot to add the small "Riders" logo. He was a little disappointed with that.
The Blazers will also get F JC Lipon back from suspension after sitting the last four games.
Cold and flu season? So far it hasn't hit the Blazers but every team goes through it during the season. The most affected so far has been Head Coach Guy Charron who is battling a cold.
Thanks for e-mails and calls Tuesday night for "Blazer Hockey Talk". Talk seemed to focus mainly on officiating, the team's 20 year-olds and the Portland game from a couple weeks ago.
Tomorrow night's game reminds me of the 1st ever WHL game I was at. It was in Saskatoon and the Blazers battled the Blades in the WHL Championship series in '94. Game six to be exact. The Blades scored in the final second to edge the Blazers to force game seven. Blazers assistant coach Scott Ferguson played in that game.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Head Coach Guy Charron, Assistant Coach Scott Ferguson and Captain Chase Schaber will join myself and Bear.
Questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call 250-374-5345
Or we'd love to have you there in person...
Talk to you tonight...
Monday, November 29, 2010
The program airs from 5:30pm to 7pm tomorrow on Radio NL and guests will include Head Coach Guy Charron, Assistant Coach Scott Ferguson and Captain Chase Schaber.
You can show up in person to the Rooftop Lounge - 3rd floor of the Ramada Hotel up the hill on Columbia Street. You can email questions to email@example.com , or you can call in your questions to 250 - 374 - 5345.
I'll host along with Rick "The Bear" Wile.
Of the 39 WHL players named, Austin Madaisky, Chase Schaber and Brendan Ranford were not among them. Going, the three weren't favoured to be among the 40 invitees.
A complete list is available here.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
It was one of those nights were neither team was pleased with the officiating.
The Blazers continue to give up too many goals and take too many penalties. They lead the league in PIMS and the Western Conference in goals-against. Their penalty kill is also at the bottom of the league. Through this, they are only three points out of the division lead. If they can corral these three issues, the rest of the season looks bright. Problem is, it's easier said than done.
- The Blazers shoot for their 5th straight home ice win after last night's 4-3 shootout victory over the Spokane Chiefs. The Cougars come in after defeating the Regina Pats 5-3 last night. F Troy Bourke had a hat-trick for the Cougars.
- Will the Blazers get their letters back? Last night the team played without a single letter "A" or "C" on the jerseys. Captain Chase Schaber sat out his third and final game due to suspension while the other assistants had their letters taken away following the loss in Spokane Wednesday. It sounds like Schaber will wear the "C" tonight but the rest of the letters could be up for open audition again. The Blazer assistants included Corey Fienhage, Jordan DePape, Bronson Maschmeyer and Austin Madaisky. If there is a letter shuffle, could players like Dylan Willick, Brendan Ranford or Shayne Neigum factor in?
- Chase Schaber came up for a 1st intermission chat on "Hockey Talk". I was surprised to hear that Schaber ( a Red Deer native) will be cheering for the Riders in tomorrow's Grey Cup. Schaber says his younger brother is the football player in the family. He's the quarterback of his high school football team. He says the brothers have transformed to be a part Rider Nation over the years.
- Who's the Player of the Month for the Blazers in November? If you look at the numbers, it's perhaps F Brendan Ranford or F Chase Schaber. F Jordan DePape had a decent month on the stats sheet too. Maybe F Dylan Willick gets some consideration based on the style of game he plays and how valuable he's been to the team. Or, does G Jeff Bosch factor in?
- Last night's delay before the shootout was painful. In fact, both shootouts this season at ISC have come with lengthy delays following the end of overtime. On both occasions it was the ice crew having to come back onto the ice to fix something after the gate was shut. Personally, I don't mind the shootout. Especially when we see something new and unique come out from the shooters. But last night's delay really took the spirit out of it.
- You had to feel for F Brendan Ranford. His name was announced four times before he actually got to lead-off the shootout. On the third announcement he actually picked up the puck and began skating towards the net but had to put the brakes on as the ice crew was still making their way off the ice.
- The Blazers are loving their new game-winning celebration. I thought I saw glimpses of something different when they beat the Pats last week. Last night, the celebration was embraced by the entire team. Call it the "NHL 94" celebration. The guys are modelling it after a video game from the 90's in which players would celebrate around their goalie at the end of the game. The boys may have the year wrong...I'll have to confirm later today at the rink.
- The Blazers are 9-0 when giving up three or less goals. Head Coach Guy Charron made us aware of this stat during our pre-game show.
- The PG Cougars could be hit hard by the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships. They will likely lose their best forward and top defenseman. F Brett Connolly has to be considered a favorite to grab a spot on Team Canada. D Martin Marincin will no doubt play for Slovakia at the event.
- Game-time tonight at 7pm from ISC. Pre-game show at 6:30pm at www.radionl.com . The Blazers won't play after tonight until next Friday when they host the Saskatoon Blades.
Jordan DePape scored a pair to give the Blazers a 2-0 lead in the 1st. The Chiefs played hard and battled back for a 3-2 third period lead. Dylan Willick was rewarded with the tying goal with 1:20 to go after playing a solid game.
The Chiefs had the overtime chances but couldn't end it. Brendan Ranford and Austin Madaisky scored in the shootout while Blake Gal and Tyler Johnson were denied by G Cam Lanigan.
More later, including the the Blazers "NHL 94" win celebration.....
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
That was from Assistant Coach Scott Ferguson on our post-game show following the Blazers most lopsided defeat of the season.
The Chiefs led 2-0 before the ice was even dry to open the game. Jared Cowen scored a PP marker just 59 seconds in with D Bronson Maschmeyer in the box. Anthony Bardaro scored eight seconds later off the ensuing face-off on a 2-on-1.
Even the Chiefs goal song couldn’t keep up. They might as well have left it on repeat up in the sound booth – maybe they did?
“Guys weren’t competing. It was a combination of everything and they just ran roughshod over us for 60 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it. No spark, no emotion and that was the most frustrating part about it,” added Ferguson.
The Blazers Brendan Ranford scored at 3:25 to temporarily stop the bleeding. It was his WHL leading 22nd of the season.
On the Blazers next PP, a turnover at center-ice led to a 2-on-0, which was finished off by Tyler Johnson on the pass from Levko Koper. From there, the route was on.
"It was a tough night for the goaltenders. It wasn’t like they were getting much help from anyone though. But every time the puck was shot towards the goal it went in. I think two went off (defenseman) Fienhage and into the back of the net,” continued a rattled Ferguson.
“Cowen looked like Bobby Orr out there. He gets three goals and I think all three times he had all the time in world, he wasn’t even challenged.”
After a scoreless 2nd period, the Blazers trailed 4-1 through two periods. The wheels really fell off at the start of the third. The Chiefs scored four goals in a span of 5:02 to go up 8-1. The guy ringing the “goal gong” in the corner of the rink had to switch arms a couple of times due to pure exhaustion.
G Cam Lanigan was mercifully pulled at 8-1 in favour of 16 year-old Troy Trombley. Trombley has been called up from “AAA” midget with Jeff Bosch out of the line-up.
The first two-shots Trombley faced got through him. Cue the song…
It was 10-1 at that point. The final few minutes couldn’t come off the scoreboard fast enough for all involved.
“I blew a gasket after the 1st period and tried to get them going. I guess we saw how that turned out. Right now it’s a matter of guys getting together. We have to have them buy in. It was frustrating. We had guys pointing fingers at each other. We have to hold ourselves accountable first before we can hold our teammates accountable. As a coaching staff we will have to hold everyone accountable and make sure they get re-focused because we have two huge home ice games this weekend.”
Spokane is back to complete the home-and-home set tomorrow night.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
- The Blazers didn't skate today. Rather they took the time to rest for 2nd meeting of the season between the clubs. Spokane won the first in a shootout 4-3 back on October 5th. This is the first game of a home-and-home set. The Blazers host the Chiefs Friday night back at ISC.
- Brendan Ranford gets back in the line-up tonight after sitting out his one-game suspension for his role in Saturday's melee in Portland. Chase Schaber and JC Lipon remain suspended and did not make the trip.
- It's been exactly one year since Guy Charron took over the coaching duties for Barry Smith. Charron has been behind the bench for 67 games posting a record of 33-30-0-4.
- Spokane is coming off a 3-1 win in Portland Sunday night in Portland. The night before they were beaten 8-3 by rival Tri-City.
- An interesting note in last night's game. Matt Needham's first-ever WHL goal was assisted by JT Barnett - it reads #14 from #22 on the scoresheet at 14:22 of the first period.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Fines and suspensions as follows:
Kamloops $2,500.00 for post 2nd period altercation at Portland
Kamloops $250.00 for multiple fight at Portland
Kamloops $250.00 for goaltender’s fight at Portland
JC Lipon Kamloops Four games for actions at Portland
Chase Schaber Kamloops Three games for game misconduct
Brendan Ranford Kamloops One game for actions at Portland
Portland's have also been announced:
Portland $2,500.00 for post 2nd period altercation versus Kamloops
Portland $250.00 for multiple fight versus Kamloops
Portland $250.00 for goaltender’s fight versus Kamloops
Joe Morrow Portland Three games for actions versus Kamloops
Seth Swenson Portland Four games for actions versus Kamloops
Needham, who was the Blazers 1st round pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam draft, made his debut with the hockey club on October 6th versus Spokane. He has been playing this season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Prep Team and has scored 10 tallies, 13 assists and 23 points in 22 games.
Sterzer was listed by the Blazers in October 2009. The Canal Flats, BC native is playing with the EDGE Prep Team out of Calgary. He has put up 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points in 19 games along with 30 penalty minutes this season.
Trombley was the Blazers 3rd round WHL Bantam pick in 2009. The 6’6” goaltender plays with the Midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan team. He was the back up for most of the exhibition season with the Blazers.
The league will make a ruling on Blazer suspensions soon. Candidates include Chase Schaber, Brendan Ranford and/or JC Lipon.
They will also likely be without G Jeff Bosch for tomorrow night or longer. Head Coach Guy Charron tells me he'll sit out tomorrow night due to injury.
I'll post the suspension info when it becomes official.....
Sunday, November 21, 2010
After a fiery end to the 2nd period with a scrap between the Blazers Dylan Willick and the Winterhawks Brad Ross, the situation nearly erupted into chaos as the two teams left the ice in Blazers territory.
As the Winterhawks were leaving the ice, Blazer G Jeff Bosch and Winterhawks G Mac Carruth engaged in a fight. With Bosch surrounded by basically they entire Winterhawks team, his Blazer teammates came in to help him out. Brendan Ranford scrapped, as did JC Lipon. Shayne Neigum and Chase Schaber were also involved. Schaber drew a game misconduct for being too physical with the linesman as they attempted to break up the melee.
Both goalies were kicked out of the game for leaving the crease. Back-ups Cam Lanigan for the Blazers and Keith Hamilton for the Hawks played the third period.
The officials didn’t properly keep the teams separated as the period ended. They allowed the teams to have access to each other while the period ended as the benches cleared to go to off the ice. It was a defensive zone breakdown for the stripes. Could the incident have been avoided? Likely. It also could have been 20 on 20 pretty easily too.
It was an emotional game as the Winterhawks built a 3-0 2nd period lead before the Blazers stormed back with goals from Ranford, Schaber and Bronson Maschmeyer. For Ranford it was his league-leading 21st. The game was even 3-3 at the 15:09 mark of the 2nd period.
The Winterhawks restored a two-goal lead early in the third period. Dalibor Bortnak brought the Blazers back within a goal midway through the period but Nino Niederreiter scored his 2nd goal of the game moments later to put the Hawks up for good 6-4.
Post-game, Blazers Head Coach Guy Charron praised his team in their ability to stand-up and protect each other. The Blazers won the physical battle but ultimately not the game.
Charron says it was another character building contest for his team and perhaps a moral victory.
Guy didn’t want to put blame on the goaltenders but he feels they need to be better. Lanigan was guilty of a couple rebounds that ended up in the back of the net.
Bottom line, the Blazers battled hard tonight and the coaching staff has stressed they will take that because the results will usually be positive as opposed to negative.
In a way the game could almost sum up the season-to-date for the Blazers. A hard-working and feisty effort, too many goals against, a boatload of penalties/fights and no points as a result.
G Jeff Bosch was hurt in the melee to end the 2nd period. His status for Tuesday’s game against Regina is unknown.
There will be fines doled out by the league office for the game. The goalie scrap usually runs about $250. There may be more dished out if it’s deemed a “multiple fight” situation.
- As confusing as it was to sort out the penalties, the lack of working Internet made it even more difficult. I joke about Memorial Coliseum being a time warp back in time. Tonight without Internet just added to it.
- Was anyone keeping track of how long the intermissions are in Portland? Time can even stand still…what an amazing place!
- Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and staff were in the building. Taking a closer look at 1st round pick Ryan Johansen or getting a better look at several of the high draft eligible prospects in the Hawks’ line-up?
- It was good to catch-up with Mike Remmerde. After years of scouting with the Red Line Report for basically the love of the game, Mike has finally landed a part-time NHL scouting gig. I’m happy for him. We met in the summer of 2004 at the NHL Draft in North Carolina.
- Portland GM Mike Johnston is a pleasure to talk to. I can tell he’s a good hockey man. Portland has a good one behind the bench and in the front office no doubt.
- Anyone who thinks fighting is bad for hockey should take in a game in Everett or Portland. Fans go crazy when the gloves come off.
- American fans love “the take down” in a fight. For them, it’s basically the deciding factor of who wins and who loses.
- The Hawks have a great group of cheerleaders. In my opinion they are a great addition to the fan experience. In today’s day and age where the experience of going to the game matters just as much as the outcome, the Hawks have hit a home-run.