Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- I asked Chase Souto about his Saturday night scrap against Zach Habscheid of the Chilliwack Bruins. The Blazer rookie is taking the scrappy side of him seriously and admits he's getting a little help.
"I talk to Josh (Caron) and Schabes (Chase Schaber) about (fighting). I look up to those guys a lot."
Souto even recruits a little help from the internet to find out who's who...
"I'll go on...(youtube) before games and see who's fought. I'll try to study how they throw... everything helps."
- Blazers General Manager Craig Bonner was very honest today in an interview with Radio NL's Rick "The Bear" Wile when talking about the re-assignment of F Rhyse Dieno to the SJHL.
"He's still been very inconsistent. We thought he was very average in the exhibition season and probably didn't get to the level we thought we hoped he would. That happens. Plus we've had some guys come in and beat him out of the position. That's the way hockey works and that's the business of the game."
I had lunch with Aaron Oviatt on Monday. People in Swift Current would remember that name. He used to be on the Broncos Champions Committee and was a strong supporter of the club.
Aaron is now in Kamloops along with his family working for ScotiaBank. He's remained involved with junior hockey. He's now one of the Blazer billet families.
Looks like I'll be making an appearance at an upcoming Blazer Booster Club Night. I've been asked to speak at Monday night's dinner. Hopefully they take it easy on me. I was told this was one of the duties of the Blazers broadcaster. It should be interesting to meet and here some of the stories from the long time Blazer supporters.
Goaltender Jeff Bosch will likely see action this weekend coming off an ankle injury as the team hits the road for Everett and Chilliwack this weekend.
"Very excited to play again. It's been a long time since I've played a game. Hopefully I can make some saves for these guys."
He's not feeling the nerves, he's been through this all before.
"I've been through a lot of situations in my career. I've been through a first game with a new team before and I'm just excited to get out there."
I asked him about having the biggest defensive corps in the Western Conference in front of him...
"There are some good sized guys on defense here. They can take care of the front of the net, protect me. It's nice to have a big strong blueline here."
Kamloops Blazers General Manager Craig Bonner announced that 17-year-old forward Rhyse Dieno has been reassigned to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“It was a situation where we felt Rhyse needs to get more ice time, and he was not able to get that here with our current roster; we wish Rhyse the best of luck in the SJHL,” Bonner said.
Dieno played 16 games with the Blazers last season collecting 1 assist. He was a healthy scratch for both games this past weekend.
The Kamloops Blazers current roster now sits at 24 players including 14 forwards, 8 defenseman, and 2 goaltenders.
Monday, September 27, 2010
- As one defenseman goes down, two are ready to be inserted back into the line-up. D Brandon Underwood should be ready for full-contact in practice this week after a concussion. He will likely see in action Friday in Everett in the Blazers next game.
Also, Corey Fienhage has been returned from the Buffalo Sabres. The over-age defenseman will make his regular season debut Friday. Have to say I'm looking forward to that.
- Young Chase Souto is an up and coming middle-weight in the Western Conference. Still only 15,( turns 16 in a couple weeks) the California kid made his presence known in the final shift of the game Saturday against Chilliwack when he dropped the gloves with 18 year-old Zach Habscheid.
He also scrapped three times in the pre-season. He's old-school in his approach...stand in and trade. He's good with both hands, and can take one or two also.
- It was good to see Randy Merkley Saturday night. The Bruins broadcaster used to call games for the Moose Jaw Warriors back in the east division.
- I made it through the weekend with only one Swift Current Broncos reference. Early on in the pre-game show Friday night, Swift Curren...slipped out when talking about the two teams in the game. Who heard it? Everyone. At least everyone who works at the radio stations.
- If your a Blazer fan, you have to love how quick game highlights appear on the website post-game. Fans can get home after the game, fire up the computer and watch the highlight package.
- WHL Web TV is back. It seems to be working well. I didn't have any problems this weekend. It seems to load quicker and stay more stable than in previous years.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
"I'm looking on a fairly regular basis at different opportunities around the NHL... Dallas is a team I'm looking at and remain interested in."
The Blazers led 2-0 after one on goals by Dylan Willick (it appears to be Linden Saip's goal upon review) and Chase Schaber.
The Cougars pulled within one as Brett Connolly made it just in time for the game and gave the Cougars their first goal.
Back-to-back goals from JT Barnett and Brendan Ranford gave the Blazers a 4-1 lead before a PP point-shot from Martin Marancin cut it to 4-2 after two.
Willick would score an empty-netter to put it away late in the third period for the 5-2 final.
Blazers G Jon Groenheyde was solid making 39 saves in the win. Chase Schaber, JT Barnett and Brendan Ranford each finished with a goal and an assist.
The two fights in the game both involved European players making their WHL debut. The Cougars Martin Marincin got involved with Chase Schaber in the first. The Blazer Bernhard Keil scraped with the Cougars Parker Stanfield in the third.
Game highlights can be viewed at www.blazerhockey.com
Friday, September 24, 2010
We are on the air live on Radio NLfrom the rink at 5:30pm as Rick "The Bear" Wile hosts a Fan Fair countdown to face-off.
Guests will include former Blazers voice Krik Fraser, Majority Owner/Governor Tom Gaglardi and General Manager Craig Bonner.
The pre-game show begins at 6:30. You can listen live at www.radionl.com
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It sounds like D Brandon Underwood will not play due to a concussion sustained in Prince George in the final pre-season game. He continues to go through the protocol and is getting closer to returning.
Rookies D Brady Gaudet and F Logan McVeigh will likely make their WHL debut.
F Brendan Ranford, F JT Barnett, F Chase Schaber, D Austin Madaisky and D Josh Caron all back from NHL camps will in play.
Only D Corey Fienhage who is still with the Buffalo Sabres will be unavailable.
Had a chance to talk with D Josh Caron today. The ink isn't even dry yet with his new contract with the Minnesota Wild.
"My family couldn't be more happy," said a beaming Caron when i asked him about his phone call back home to share the big news.
"My mother was crying on the phone...I've never seen my dad more happy. They were just really pleased with me."
Minnesota likes their tough guys. Last year both Derek Boogaard and John Scott patrolled the ice for the Wild but free-agency have them on the move. Boogaard signed a big deal with the New York Rangers while Scott signed on with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Obviously that caused a ripple in the organization (a big ripple). Both players check in at 6'8".
Now Caron comes back to the Blazers to hone his skills as a WHL heavyweight. I asked him about fighting for a living next season in pro.
"I'll do it... I like to fight. I like to throw'em down. I think I'm tough enough to do it. I fought some tough guys. I think I can handle myself."
The third year Blazer racked up 1 goal and 5 assists last season and finished third in penalty minutes in the WHL with 190. The Campbell River, BC native played well in Traverse City where he sparked his team with two fights.
It's another one of those free-agent invite signings. Minnesota definitely likes toughness. They've never shyed away from signing those players over the years.
The Blazers received good news this morning as defenseman Austin Madaisky and Josh Caron have been returned to the hockey club from NHL training camps. The only player remaining at an NHL training camp is 20-year-old defenseman Corey Fienhage who is with the Buffalo Sabres.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Kamloops, BC - The Kamloops Blazers have announced their captains for the 2010-11 season. Chase Schaber, a 19-year-old forward who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen in January, will serve as the team’s captain this season. Schaber is into his fourth WHL season and was part of a Hitmen team that went to the WHL final in 2008-09. He has played 170 games with the Hitmen and Blazers collecting 29 goals and 73 points.
Four players will join Schaber and wear letters on their chest. Bronson Maschmeyer, who was an alternate captain in the second half of last season, will continue to wear an “A”.
Corey Fienhage, the 20-year-old defenseman who came to the Blazers from the NCAA North Dakota Fighting Sioux, will also be an alternate captain for the season.
Jordan DePape and Austin Madaisky have also been named alternate captains for the season. DePape, an 18-year-old product of Winnipeg, MB, will wear a letter for all road games this season. Madaisky, the 18-year-old defenseman acquired from the Hitmen with Schaber in January, will wear a letter for all home games this season.
“As soon as Chase joined our hockey club, his leadership skills were evident,” Head Coach Guy Charron stated. “Bronson, Corey, Jordan and Austin also have been fantastic in the dressing room and will do a terrific job in complementing Chase as our captain,” Charron concluded.
RANFORD RETURNS FROM PHILADELPHIA
Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers have welcomed 18-year-old forward Brendan Ranford back from the Philadelphia Flyers training camp.
Ranford was drafted by the Flyers in the 7th round in 2010 and joins JT Barnett, who was with the Minnesota Wild and Chase Schaber, who was with the Edmonton Oilers, as other players returned from NHL training camps.
There are still three Blazers at NHL training camps Josh Caron (Minnesota), Corey Fienhage (Buffalo), and Austin Madaisky. Madaisky is listed on Columbus’ roster tonight as the Blue Jackets host the Washington Capitals in NHL pre-season action.
It is expected that Caron and Madaisky will be returned to the Blazers on Thursday, in time for Friday’s home opener versus the Prince George Cougars and when the Blazers introduce their third jerseys on Saturday versus the Chilliwack Bruins. For tickets to the weekend games, call 250-828-3339 or visit the Interior Savings Box Office.
An old WHL General Manager once said "you can fill Giants stadium with good kids."
Translation: There's lots of good kids out there but doesn't necessarily translate into wins on the ice.
That may be true but I think this team provides both skill and character. That's a great combination to throw on the ice.
Still relatively new on the scene, I'm able to take a fresh look at the scenario without being jaded on past failures and results.
Here's five things I think Blazer fans should get excited about in no particular order:
1) Skill up front, punishment on the back-end.
This team will throw three skilled scoring lines at you and an energy line that will create some havoc. The Blazers also boast the biggest, most physical blueline in the Conference. Add to the mix 20 year-old Corey Fienhage and you solidify a group that will be tough to play against. Averaging 6'2" and 198lbs as a group, the Blazers defense will wear down opposing forwards.
2) Colin Smith
This sophomore has shown me he could be in store for a break-out season. The speedy forward will get noticed this year. I'm excited to see him develop into a premiere player in the league.
Here's a promo video from last year:
3) Jordan DePape
What a deal the Blazers made to get Depape out of Brandon last year. While the Wheat Kings added Shayne Wiebe to the mix, the Blazers get a top-notch player who has captain potential down the road. A skilled guy. I'm surprised he didn't get an FA invite to an NHL camp this season.
4) Corey Fienhage
The player his teammates call "Moose"... he's already a favorite amongst the group and he hasn't even played a game yet.
Named an assistant captain today, the over-age defenseman adds an element of experience and leadership. He's going to be hard to play against. He adds what I call the "Aaron Rome" factor. Rome was 20 going on 30. I see the same in Fienhage. A veteran presence the rest of the team can lean on when the going gets tough.
5) Euro Power
It looks like Dalibor Bortnak and Bernhard Keil will start the season on the same line. The Slovakian veteran and the German rookie have shown flashes in the pre-season of what they're capable of. It will be an adjustment for Keil in his first year and may take some time to get going. Bortnak on the other hand came into camp ready to go. He's been one of the stand-outs during the pre-season and has drawn plenty of praise from Head Coach Guy Charron for his all-around play.
Besides these five points there's more to consider.
Although I haven't seen Chase Schaber and Austin Madaisky play since they were with the Calgary Hitmen, I remember them as two solid skaters and contributors. Madaisky will work into the Blazers top four D, while Schaber will captain the team and play on the top two lines.
Brendan Ranford will be a point a game player this year at least be an offensive spark-plug.
Rick "The Bear" Wile will host a Fan-Fair pre-game show live from Interior Savings Center beginning at 5:30pm Friday.
Guests will include myself, Kirk Fraser, Assistant Coach Scott Ferguson, General Manager Craig Bonner and Owner/Governor Tom Gaglardi.
You can listen online at www.radionl.com
Some thoughts on my old team quickly....
- Swift Current Broncos F Cody Eakin recorded an exhibition goal last night for the Washington Capitals in a 6-2 win over Columbus. Although this was his NHL exhibition debut it's by far not his biggest pro game.
Here's a guy who was playing in the AHL playoffs last season for the Hershey Bears - the Caps affiliate. I'm sure tonight's game would have featured many of those same teammates.
- I like the trade the Broncos made with Seattle. Although they surrender their most experienced defenseman in Travis Bobbee, they get two roster players in return and by way of the trade get to hold on to over-age import F Stepan Novotny.
Adding Novotny to Justin Dowling, Cody Eakin, Brad Hoban, Taylor Vause, Adam Lowry and Dillon Wagner gives the Broncos some options up front.
They are putting a lot of stock in their group of 17 year-old defenseman Reece Scarlett, Graeme Craig, and Richard Nedomlel.
- I received a nice letter from the Broncos bus company today at work. Cliff, the owner of Sun West Coach Lines wrote to tell me he enjoyed the broadcasts and being around myself and the team on the road. That was nice, and unexpected.
-------A final thought...
Is Saskatchewan taking over the WHL airwaves?
With the addition of Andy Neal and myself to the BC division, four of the five broadcasters in the division are from Saskatchewan. The lone exception being Dan Elliot in Vancouver.
In fact, among the 17 Canadian WHL teams, 10 of the broadcasters are from Sask.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"It was probably the best hockey experience I've ever had," said Schaber before today's practice at ISC.
"It was high-tempo, a lot of energy with guys battling for spots it was a lot of fun."
Schaber also saw first hand the media circus surrounding Oiler top prospects Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi.
"They are pro material, I was impressed. They are first round picks. They have amazing skill, they are fast. It was fun watching and playing with them."
Schaber and the Blazers captaincy for the upcoming season have been linked for a few months now. It's something he'd welcome.
"Absolutely. I can take any role I'm given. I can adapt to anything. We will see. Whatever happens, happens."
The Blazers held a players vote on the matter yesterday. The staff will also weigh in and an announcement is expected before the Blazers host Prince George Friday night.
The Portland Winterhawks will play the waiting game after learning that Nino Niederreiter has signed with the New York Islanders.
While getting the WHL this Week - Radio Edition together today I spoke with Winterhawks Head Coach/GM Mike Johnston on the matter. He's fully expecting to start the season without NHL first round picks Ryan Johansen and Niederreiter.
"The exhibition games process is now just starting. I expect both players to play regular season games as well to determine if they can play in the top part of (the Islanders or Blue Jackets) line-up. I don't think any team is going to keep a player at 18 years of age if they're not on their top two lines. They will want them to go back to junior in develop. We will get a real good feeling for where these guys are at probably in the next couple weeks to determine if they fit into their roster."
Monday, September 20, 2010
We're on the air early Friday beginning at 5:30pm as Rick "The Bear" Wile does a live show from Interior Savings Center leading up to our 7pm face-off on Radio NL,
Bear will also sit in and do some color commentary for the opening weekend before heading down to do the post-game interviews. You can listen online at either www.radionl.com or www.blazerhockey.com
The WHL This Week - Radio edition is almost set. The plan is to have Commissioner Ron Robison on to kick-off the 45th season of the WHL.
We will also hear from Red Deer Rebels F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who had a busy summer. He know heads into the season as the top-rated WHL'er for the NHL entry draft next summer. Portland Winterhawks Head Coach / General Manager Mike Johnston will also join us. The Hawks head into the season as one of the favorites.
The Kamloops Blazers are back on the ice this afternoon for practice. It's expected that newly acquired G Jeff Bosch will meet his new teammates today. A sprained ankle may keep him out of practice though.
It's already been announced that G Jon Groenheyde will get the call in goal in the season opener against the Prince George Cougars. His play in the pre-season has definitely earned him that right.
We should know more later today on the fate of the five Blazers still away at NHL camps. I'd expect the Blazers to have most, if not all the players back in time for the season opener. D Corey Fienhage may get a longer look in Buffalo based on his over-age status.
The player his teammates call "Moose" is going to be a sturdy guy on the back-end for the Blazers this year.
For those back in Saskatchewan....remember Bill O'Donovan? He did sports on CTV Regina years ago and also hosted a show called Sports Journal. I remember it well. He's now in Kamloops anchoring the local TV station's supper hour newscast and doing public address announcing for Blazer games.
His son Tim works in the Blazer office and does a good job handling team video and media requests.
This is a shot of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Trail Smoke Eaters from yesterday up in S.A. Turns out it was my first ever BCHL hockey game. I made the hour long trip North along with former Trail Smoke Eaters play-by-play broadcaster and Radion NL employee Ian Douglas.
Former Swift Current Broncos Assistant Coach Tim Kehler is now the Head Coach/GM in Salmon Arm. Heading into yesterday's game, the Silverbacks were a league best 4-0. But, they couldn't solve a hot Smoke Eaters goaltender for most of the game and suffered their first loss of the season.
Trail has done a good job of graduating broadcasters on to the WHL. Drew Wilson (Prince Albert), Shawn Mullin (Swift Current), and A.J. Jakubec (former Edmonton Oil Kings broadcaster) have all come out of Smoke Eater country.
The drive north to Salmon Arm is a nice one as many know. You follow Shuswap Lake for most of the trip starting at Chase. Yesterday the lake was like glass around Copper Island. The sockeye salmon run is just starting. You could see the fish jumping from the highway.
The drive compares to the trip south to Kelowna where you follow Lake Okanagan through Vernon and onto to Kelowna. The summers are going to be nice out here.
Swift Current Broncos F Cody Eakin is in Washington, DC at Capitals main camp.
It's expected he will see some exhibition games. The Caps will take a good long look at Eakin. Bronco fans shouldn't expect him back for opening weekend
Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau is a fan of Eakin's game. Don't be surprised if Eakin isn't back for a few weeks. Not the news Bronco fans want to hear but good for Cody nonetheless.
Have a good week.... There will be plenty of work to do from now until Friday night....
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I wasn't at the game so I don't have the particulars. For video highlights check out the Blazers website. A game summary is available here.
With the victory, they end of their exhibition season with a record of 4-2 and now get ready for their season opener Friday night at home when they host Prince George.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Earl from the local TV station throwing fastballs at Blazers GM Craig Bonner
PG Cougars and former Swift Current Bronco goaltender Morgan Clark post-game. Had a good visit. He admittedly didn't play his best in the Blazer 7-3 win
Kam - JC Lipon (Underwood, Maschmeyer) - 11:27
Kam -Trask (Bortnak, Saip) - 16:36
PG - Dumais (Asuchak,Stanfield) - 1:58
PG -Dobrowolski (Bourke, Thompson) 3:48
Kam -Trask (Martell, Smith) 8:54
Kam -Barnett (unassisted) 9:00
PG - Asuchak (unassisted) 13:24
Kam - Keil (Bortnak) :24
Kam - Martell (Bortnak, Gaudet) 12:01
Kam - Hanes (DePape, McVeigh) PP 15:30
Morgan Clark in goal for the Cougars. Jon Groenheyde for the Blazers. Both went the distance
Shots 13-8 Blazers after 1st
Shots 29-18 Blazers after 2
Shots 43-22 - Blazers final
Chase Souto vs Wilson Dumais -spirited draw
Brandon Underwood vs Jesse Forsberg - Edge to Underwood
Were you surprised to be headed out west?
"A little bit but I heard they picked up another 20 year-old goaltender (Thomas Heemskerk) last night so I knew I was on the wire from that point on."
Are you excited about the move for your final year of junior hockey?
"I'm excited to head out to that competitive conference. It's a little more free flowing. The buildings out there are really nice and the crowds get excited... it should be good. It's also going to be good to not wake-up to -40 weather in the winter time anymore."
What about coming into the situation here with 19 year-old Jon Groenheyde already established?
"It's always a good thing when you have two good goalies around to push each other in practice and it games. I had a good partner in Moose Jaw and we did that. It should be a good thing."
Describe yourself as a goaltender for the people out here that haven't seen you.
"I'm a pretty athletic guy. I'll play the position soundly but I'm not scared to think outside the box and make that big save however I can make it."
Thursday, September 16, 2010
For the first time in franchise history a 2nd generation Blazer will take to the ice as 15 year-old Matt Needham will make his debut tomorrow night at home against the Prince George Cougars.
Matt's father Mike played parts of four seasons with the Blazers from 1986 to 1990 recording 243 pts.
"It's an experience for him. Certainly we will have to surround him with players to allow him to have success with him being 15," commented Head Coach Guy CharronHe will wear his father's old #14 jersey. He was the Blazers 1st round pick, 8th overall in this summer's WHL bantam draft.
"It's special for me because I've coached his dad at the World Juniors. It's very special for the organization as well," added Charron.
"He's already given himself some challenges to beat his dad's records," said a smiling Charron.
In other Blazer news, F JT Barnett has been re-assigned by the Minnesota Wild back to the Blazers. F Chase Schaber has advanced to Edmonton Oilers main camp.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Brendan Ranford is off to Philadelphia Flyers main camp while Austin Madaisky has advanced to main camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets main camp.
D Corey Fienhage is expected to join the Buffalo Sabres main camp after the rookie process but there's nothing official as of yet.
There's no word on F JT Barnett and F Chase Schaber with both Minnesota and Edmonton.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
The blog links remain the same with a few additions more specific to the BC di vision and Western Conference. Posting may start later in the week. Stay tuned....
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
He'll do a great job. His first day on the job here will be September 20th. Enjoy it Shawn!
Apparently he's a life-long Edmonton Oilers fan. He'll enjoy the Edmonton road trips with Oilers alumni and now Broncos Head Coach / GM Mark Lamb.
We will be in touch in the following weeks to make sure everything is in order for his first Bronco broadcast. With only four days from the time he gets here to the season opener, Shawn will have a lot to do to say the least.
I want to throw a quick shout out to all the Bronco parents out there over the years that have been listening online, checking the blog and being a big supporter of Broncos hockey.
The parents over the years have been great to deal with.
I will miss the Vause and Lowry baking goods on the bus but I won't miss the extra 10 pounds they add over the course of the winter!
Thanks to the radio station and Bronco staff for showing up at my farewell. I'll miss working with you.
What a thoughtful gift from the radio staff.... a gift card for Tobiano Golf Club in Kamloops. Awesome.
Two particular folks at the station... Chance and Ryan. Thanks for your nice words last night.
Ryan and I got a chance to do one last radio bit this morning on Magic 97 FM. We've spent a lot of years and have covered a lot of ground together. Lots of memories and stories. Maybe in the years to come Ryan and I will be invited to speak at a Bronco function together. We'd have enough material for a night of laughs for sure.
Some news from the WHL got me excited this week. Kamloops and Vancouver are set to play a regular season game in Whitehorse, Yukon in February as part of CBC's Hockey Day in Canada festivities.
It'll be the first WHL game in the Yukon and I'm excited to hopefully get a chance to be part of history. I think it's a great venture by the WHL.
Kamloops will also host a game in the Canada/Russia Subway Super Series in November. Swift Current played host to the event two seasons ago. I really enjoyed it. So did the sold out crowd.
Calling the game was an experience too. We had Tim Tisdale at ice level and former Bronco Assistant Coach Tim Kehler in the booth. It was a fun broadcast.
Speaking of Kehler, I'll be rolling through Salmon Arm, BC over the weekend. Hopefully we have a chance to meet up. I know he has a team building excursion that day with the Silver Backs as they do some paint balling.
I was asked to write an article on Cody Eakin for a blog that covers Washington Capitals prospects. Emily Bennett is the blogger over there. She does a great job. She also kept me in the loop during the Hershey Bears Calder Cup run when Cody was called up at the end of the season.
She was looking for a look back with my time with Eakin over the past four seasons. I had a story or two to share.
That article and her blog link is here.
This will be the last post until I get settled in my new city. Thanks for making the blog part of your surfing routine. It's been fun.
Thanks Swift Current!