Friday, February 18, 2011

Central Swing Begins Tonight...

Greetings from Red Deer as the Blazers begin a crucial Central division swing tonight in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. The Blazers will be on the road for 10 days, playing five games in the process before returning home.

They will base out of Red Deer for the first two games of this swing before heading south. Here's some random tidbits as the Blazers begin the road trip:

- It's pretty much a no-brainer as to who the Edmonton Oil Kings will start in goal tonight. Former Blazer G Jon Groenheyde has to be amped up to face his former club after an early season deal moved him from the Blazers to the Oil Kings. He has established himself as the #1 goaltender in Edmonton. He's 13-9-1-2 with a 3.01 GAA and an .899 save % since the deal. We will talk to him tonight during our pre-game show to get his thoughts.

As for the Blazers? You have to think it will be Jeff Bosch in goal. He's played very well lately and the schedule is in the Blazers favor on this swing. Although I'm sure Cam Lanigan would love the opportunity to face his former club.

- The Blazers in the Whitehorse Hockey Day in Canada game and the WHL Outdoor game? Truth is, initially the Blazers were penciled in to play the Hitmen in Calgary in Family Day Monday matinee match-up.

That all changed when the Blazers were pegged for the Whitehorse game and the WHL learned of an outdoor game potential on the heels of the NHL's Heritage Classic. So, the move was made to bring in Regina instead. The Blazers made a schedule adjustment to compensate. That would also account for the Blazers having three straight days off on the road between games on this swing. They will play in Red Deer Saturday night and then not play until Wednesday in Lethbridge. When they first laid out the plans, the Blazers would've played Calgary Monday afternoon.

- The Blazers will try to make good use of the three off-days. They will practice in the small Alberta town of Castor and have a small reception/autograph session. They will also head out to the Doan family ranch (Circle-Square Ranch) for a day/night of fun.

- Happy Birthday Dalibor Bortnak. The Slovak celebrated his 20th birthday yesterday and was serenaded by his teammates at a Red Deer restaurant last night.

- We've put in a request for Chase Schaber's family dog "Rocky" the German Rottweiler to pay a visit at the rink tomorrow. Rocky came down to the rink on the Blazers three-game Alberta swing in October. Perhaps it was a good luck charm as the Blazers went three-for-three with wins in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary. At any event, ol' Rocky will make it down before the team departs for Edmonton.
- D Brandon Underwood is coming along better than expected with his knee injury. Initially thought to be lost for the remainder of the regular season, Underwood is said to be making great progress. He skated yesterday back in Kamloops as the team departed for Alberta. There is no timetable for his return but you have to think he'll be back sooner rather than later.

- Have you ever heard of this? There was a letter in my hotel room warning of a scam that was going around. The letter states guests of hotels in the area are receiving calls purported to be from the police, fire marshall or head of maintenance for the hotel. Guests are then instructed by the caller to activate the sprinkler system in their room in order to prevent or deal with a major emergency like a gas leak. In fact, I've heard that in some cases the caller tells the hotel guest the refrigerator MUST be thrown out the window immediately.
Apparently, people are buying it the story.

- It's cold! The Blazers left Kamloops with a temperature of 5C. They arrived to -25C in Red Deer and -30 overnight. I've missed a few things about the prairies but -30 isn't one of them.

- We're on the air at 5:30PM Pacific Time from Rexall Place with the pre-game show, play-by-play at 7pm.


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