The Western Hockey League, in association with the Canadian Hockey League, SUBWAY® and the Kamloops Blazers, today announced that former Kamloops Blazers Captain and Kamloops native Ajay Baines along with Chief of the Tk’emlups Indian Band Shane Gottfriedson will act as the honorary co-captains of Team WHL during the SUBWAY® Super Series game between Team WHL and the Russian National Junior Team being held in Kamloops this Wednesday
Baines, who was born and raised in Kamloops, played for the Kamloops Blazers from 1995-1999 and was the Captain of the team for three full seasons, which is the longest tenure this team has had. In 282 WHL games, Baines had 113 goals, 129 assists and 242 points in four seasons with the hockey club. His WHL career culminated after leading the Blazers to the WHL Championship Series in 1999 where they bowed out to the Calgary Hitmen. He has since been inducted as a Blazers Legend and named to the All-Time Team as one of the franchise’s top 25 players.
“I was proud of playing for my hometown Blazers and in the WHL,” commented Baines. “Playing in the Western Hockey League and living in Kamloops helped me mature and grow into the person I am. I am very grateful to be part of the SUBWAY® Super Series game in Kamloops.”
Baines was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager, but it didn’t prevent him from having an impressive professional career. The undersized and undrafted Baines went on to play 10 professional seasons, including nine in the AHL. The popular local product was the team Captain in Norfolk, Hamilton and Iowa and was awarded the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey in 2008-09. The highlight of his career was scoring the game winning goal for the Hamilton Bulldogs to win the Calder Cup in 2007.
Chief Shane Gottfriedson is the 12th Chief of the Tk’emlups Indian Band in Kamloops. He is a well respected community leader and has created many sustainable opportunities for First Nations people. He currently serves on several regional, provincial and federal committees including the BC Chiefs Health Committee as an advocate for the Aboriginal child welfare reform.
“This is a great honour that has been bestowed to me. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a prestigious event in a great city like Kamloops. I am excited to meet some of the same players we will all be cheering for at the upcoming World Junior Championships in Buffalo,” Gottfriedson said.
Shane strives to promote positive youth development through sports. He has served on the 1993 Canada Summer Games Board of Directors, the 2006 BC Summer Games Board of Directors, the 2011 Western Canadian Games Board and coached the Tk’emlups Coyotes, a local youth hockey team, to the Western Canada Native Hockey Championships.
Kamloops Blazers’ Vice-President and General Manager Craig Bonner commented on the selection of Baines and Gottfriedson.
“I had the pleasure of coaching Ajay, he was a great leader and a character kid that I am proud to now call a friend. Ajay was one of the most popular Blazers of all-time and was one of my favorite players that I coached.”
“Shane is a long time Kamloops resident, a hockey fan, and supporter of our team. He has always been willing to step up and promote and support our program. He has done a great job with the Kamloops Indian Band and his involvement in the community is endless.”