Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blazers Sign Oakes and Bell

The Kamloops Blazers have signed 16-year-old forward Devin Oakes and 17-year-old defenseman Tyler Bell to WHL education contracts following the conclusion of training camp.

Oakes, from Prince Rupert, BC played last season for the Pursuit of Excellence Midget AAA Prep team. The 6’1” 200lb forward finished last season with 24 points in 38 games. Bell, from Regina, SK, has played the past two seasons for the Regina Pat Canadians Midget AAA team. Last season, the 6’2” 195lb defenseman had 5 goals, 16 assists and 21 points in 41 games.

“We would like to welcome Devin and Tyler to the Kamloops Blazers organization,” said Director of Player Personnel, Matt Recchi. “Devin is a big body up front that is a physical presence and performed very well in training camp. We are looking forward to watching his progression through the exhibition season. Tyler adds size and depth to our defensive core. He is a welcomed addition to our hockey club.”

The Blazers first exhibition action is this Friday, September 2nd when they host the Victoria Royals at the McArthur Island Sports Centre. Game time is 7pm and advanced tickets can be purchased at the Kamloops Blazers Box Office. Tickets are only $10.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blazers Trim Roster to 29

The Kamloops Blazers reassigned 17 players to get the roster down to 29 players (16 forwards, 10 defenseman, 3 goaltenders) following the Blue vs. White intra-squad game.

Eric Krienke, Tre Potskin, Brayden Gelsinger, Evan Tordiff, Braden Krogfoss, Kyler Nachtigall, Mitch Friesen, Matt McLeod, MacKenzie Ferner and Scott Lapp are all off to play Midget AAA hockey for their respective clubs.

Defenseman Tyson Harvey and forward Diego Cuglietta will joing the Kamloops Storm and forward Jared Marchi will play in the KIJHL Junior B league this season for the Kimberly Dynamiters. Cam Rowat, Ryan Rehill, Braden Pears, and Troy Trombley will all be joining Junior A hockey clubs for the upcoming season.

The Blazers first exhibition action is this Friday, September 2nd when they host the Victoria Royals at the McArthur Island Sports Centre. Game time is 7pm and advanced tickets can be purchased at the Kamloops Blazers Box Office. Tickets are only $10.

Season Tickets for the 2011-12 season are on sale now. Contact Director of Ticketing, Todd Carnelley at the Kamloops Blazers office at 250-828-1144 ext. 224 or to purchase your seats for all 36 home games.

White Beats Blue 4-2


The annual intra-squad game in front of about 500 fans at the Interior Savings Centre ended in a 4-2 win for Team White over Team Blue Tuesday night.

JT Barnett opened the scoring for Team Blue with a rocket over the shoulder of goaltender Cole Cheveldave for a 1-0 lead. Team White responded quickly as Matt McLeod buried a rebound past goaltender Cam Lanigan for a 1-1 tie through the first period.

Team White had a strong second period as Logan McVeigh was set up nicely by veterans Brendan Ranford and Marek Hrbas giving Team White a 2-1 lead. Dylan Willick gave Team White a 3-1 lead potting a terrific centering pass from Devin Oakes past goaltender Taran Kozun. Team White outshot Team Blue 12-5 in the frame.

In the third period, Team Blue made it interesting as Aspen Sterzer found a Braden Pears deflected shot first and scored, cutting the lead to 3-2 in favour of Team White. Colin Smith iced the game with an empty net goal and a 4-2 victory.


1. Team Blue – JT Barnett (Chase Souto, Tyler Hansen), PP, 9:08
1. Team White – Matt McLeod (Jared Marchi, Dallas Calvin), PP, 12:45


Team Blue – Chase Souto, 2 minutes for Roughing, 4:18
Team White – MacKenzie Ferner, 2 minutes for Slashing, 8:05

2nd Period

2. Team White – Logan McVeigh (Marek Hrbas, Brendan Ranford), 1:35
3. Team White – Dylan Willick (Devin Oakes, Mitch Friesen), 13:33


Team White – Josh Connolly, 2 minutes for Holding, 10:35
Team Blue – JC Lipon, 2 minutes for Holding, 11:44
Team Blue – Tre Potskin, 2 minutes for Elbowing, 11:58

3rd Period

2. Team Blue – Aspen Sterzer (Braden Pears, Chase Souto), 13:58
4. Team White – Colin Smith (Devin Oakes, Mitch Friesen), EN, 18:32


Team Blue – JC Lipon, 2 minutes for High-Sticking, 1:58
Team Blue – Tre Potskin, 2 minutes for Tripping, 5:31
Team Blue – Chase Souto, 2 minutes for Hooking, 9:11

Shots by period

Team Blue – 12, 5, 9 = 26
Team White – 13, 12, 9 = 34


Team Blue – Cam Lanigan 12/13, Taran Kozun 10/12, Braden Krogfoss 8/8
Team White – Cole Cheveldave 11/12, Troy Trombley 5/5, Scott Lapp 8/9


The Blazers will look to get the roster down to around 30 players from the current 46. I'm expecting the team to have an announcement regarding that shortly.


Tuesday Afternoon Report

It's our final Radio NL Country RV trainng camp report as we look ahead to tonight's Blue/White game at Interior Savings Center.

Blazers tuesday pm by keen941

Good Story...

By Marty Hastings - Kamloops This Week

He isn’t a bus driver.

He’s a coach captain and Brennan Driedger is an integral part of the Kamloops Blazers.

The 35-year-old Kamloops product, known as CC (short for coach captain) by most, has been behind the wheel of the Blazers’ coach since 1999, the first year of the Dean Evason​ era.

“I feel like I am part of the team,” said Driedger, whose family owns Canada West Coachlines.

“I’m treated like part of the team and I am one of the team members, really.”

Hockey players often say a great deal of a team’s identity is found on the road, where tight quarters and long stretches of driving accelerate the speed of bonding.

And, there is always one man awake when the rest might be sleeping, ready to listen, ready to talk.

“When you’re on the road, you have your own family away from your family at home,” said Driedger, who was married this summer to his girlfriend of three years, Rachel.

“I’ve known some of these kids since they were 16 and I’m pretty close to these guys.”

The majority of good conversation is had after a win, though, as the atmosphere on the bus after a loss is depressing, to say the least.

“When we win, the guys are happy and there’s chit-chat on the bus,” said Driedger, who’s only been involved in two near-crash situations in 16 years of driving buses.

“There’s usually a couple honks after we win, leaving the arena.

“When we lose, we get on the bus and there’s pretty much no words said. We always drive at night and I hit blizzards and have nobody to talk to. It’s not a good vibe.”

The big losses — and there have been quite a few of them in recent years — weigh heavily on Driedger, just as they do on players, coaches and management.

“I feel sorry for the guys and I know they work hard,” Driedger said.

“I want to see the team succeed.”

There are two things that tend to get on Driedger’s nerves, the first, not surprisingly, being players who have a tendency to leave their trash on the bus.

“I say to the guys before the season, ‘I’m not your maid and I’m not here to clean up after your mess’,” Driedger said.

“Once they’re on the bus, I’m their coach, too.

“I won’t take the BS.”

There is also one nickname — Bussy — that Driedger would prefer not to be called.

“They call me Bussy,” said Driedger, who drives the team in a 2003 Prevost H3-45, a 57,000-pound bus with three axles and eight wheels.

“There’s usually a few choice words if that happens because, hey, I’ve got a career and I’ve got an education.”

Driedger is the maintenance supervisor at Canada West Coachlines. He runs a bus-repair shop which employs four mechanics.

The club’s longtime bus driver has been lucky enough to travel with a lot of very funny people, one of his favourites being former Blazers’ D-Man Ryan Bender.

“He was a character,” Driedger said.

Current Blazers’ captain Chase Schaber has his moments, too, Driedger said.

“Schabes, he’s pretty funny. He’s usually got a funky hairdoo and his shiny, mirror glasses.”

One of the least-favourable parts of Driedger’s job comes in the early hours of the morning, when faint chatter turns to snoring.

KTW asked Driedger who takes the cake for all-time loudest snorer.

“[Former Blazers’ play-by-play man] Kirk Fraser, definitely Kirk Fraser,” Driedger replied without hesitation.

“Don’t share a room with him, it won’t work.”

The Driedger family has had the Kamloops franchise’s driving contract since the early 1980s, when the club was called the Junior Oilers.

Driedger and his father, Bernie, have spent countless hours on the road, often braving treacherous winter conditions and doing their part to make sure the team arrives home safe.

The younger Driedger might not have too many years left behind the Blazers’ wheel, as he plans to stay closer to home when children become part of his life.

That likely won’t be an easy transition for Driedger — he loves driving rig for his surrogate hockey family.

“I can’t wait to get back on the road,” Driedger said.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Afternoon training camp report...

A couple of veterans re-acquainting themselves with each other in the final scrimmage of main camp...

Mon pm report by keen941

Training Camp Day Four


Day four of training camp is complete and nine more players have been reassigned. The roster is now down to 46 players (31 forwards, 18 defensemen, 6 goaltenders) for the annual Blue versus White game tomorrow night at 7:00PM at the Interior Savings Centre. Tickets for the game can be purchased at the Box Office for $5.

Injury report: Matthew Needham, Elbow, day-to-day, Jordan DePape, Hip, day-to-day.


Team White 1, Team Blue 0 SO
Team Blue 2, Team White 1 SO

Goal Scorers

1. JT Barnett (Unassisted)
2. Cole Ully (Shootout)

1. Matt McLeod (Shootout)
2. Jared Marchi (Brendan Ranford)


Team Orange 2, Team Blue 1
Team Orange 2, Team Blue 1

Goal Scorers

1. Tyson McLellan (Cole Souto)
2. Chase Schaber (Unassisted)
3. Chase Schaber (Chase Souto)
4. Chase Souto (Colin Smith)

1. Brady Gaudet (Unassisted)
2. Cole Ully (Brady Gaudet)


Team White 2, Team Orange 0
Team Orange 3, Team White 1

Goal Scorers

1. JC Lipon (Unassisted
2. Brayden Gelsinger (Jared Marchi, Brendan Ranford)
3. Brendan Ranford (Jared Marchi)

1. Chase Souto (Dallas Calvin, Chase Schaber)
2. Tim Bozon (Colin Smith)
3. Eric Krienke (Chase Souto, Chase Schaber)

Tomorrow's Schedule


8:45AM - 10:00 AM
Practice - White

10:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Practice - Blue

7:00 PM - 9:30 PM

Monday Morning Training Camp Report

We take a closer look at the blueline on our Radio NL Country RV Monday morning training camp report....

Mon am report by keen941

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Training Camp Day Three

(courtesy Kamloops Blazers /

Day three of training camp has come to an end. There were a few roster moves as the hockey club reassigned eight players to get down to 55 players (31 forwards, 18 defensemen, 6 goaltenders).

Day four of training camp features three games tomorrow at 9:00AM, 10:30AM, and 12:00PM. Following the games, more reassignments will be released.

The annual Blue vs. White game will be held on Tuesday, 7:00PM at the Interior Savings Centre.

Injury report: Matthew Needham, Elbow, day-to-day, Jordan DePape, Hip, day-to-day.


Team Orange 2, Team Blue 1
Team Blue 2, Team Orange 0

Goal Scorers

1. Dylan Willick (Unassisted)
2. JT Barnett (Dylan Willick)
3. JT Barnett (Unassisted

1. Josh Caron (Chase Souto, Chase Schaber)
2. Chase Schaber (Unassisted)

Team White 1, Team Orange 0 SO
Team Orange 1, Team White 0 SO

Goal Scorers

1. Tim Bozon (Shootout)
2. Eric Krienke (Shootout)

1. Diego Cuglietta (Shootout)
2. Jesse Shynkaruk (Shootout)


Team Blue 2, Team White 2
Team White 3, Team Blue 2

Goal Scorers

1. Brayden Gelsinger (Brendan Ranford)
2. Brayden Gelsinger (JC Lipon)
3. Brendan Ranford (JC Lipon)
4. Matt McLeod (Ryan Hanes)
5. JC Lipon (Brendan Ranford, Diego Cuglietta)

1. Tre Potskin (JT Barnett, Brady Gaudet)
2. JT Barnett (Dylan Willick, Logan McVeigh)

Tomorrow's Schedule


9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
White vs. Blue

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Orange vs. Blue

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Orange vs. White

Sunday Afternoon Report

Goaltenders and veterans stood out today for the opening day of main camp scrimmages.

Sunday aft report by keen941

Sunday Morning Training Camp Report

Here's our Sunday morning report as heard on Radio NL 610 AM

Sunday am report by keen941

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Main Camp Teams


12 HANES 92 13 SHYNKARUK 96 14 OAKES 95
15 RANFORD 92 16 McLEOD 95 17 KOONER 96

6 GRAN 95 7 HAMONIC 96
8 CROSS 94

20 WARREN 95


8 ULLY 95 9 WILLICK 92 10 TORDIFF 96
16 GILLIES 95 17 STERZER 94 19 DePAPE 92
20 HOLICK 96 21 BEBB 95 22 POTSKIN 95

2 GAUDET 94 3 PIERS 96
4 BELL 94 5 FERNER 95
6 HRBAS 93 7 REHILL 95

1 KOZUN 94
35 McLEOD 96


8 KRIENKE 96 9 OWEN 94 12 ROWAT 94
14 CALVIN 94 19 SCHABER 91 17 Ch.SOUTO 94
18 BOZON 94 21 SMITH 93 20 LEVESQUE 95
32 Co. SOUTO 95 33 McLELLAN 95


30 LAPP 95

Rookie Camp Wraps Up

Training Camp Day 2 Recap

(courtesy Kamloops Blazers/

Kamloops Blazers 2011 Rookie Camp has come to a close. 63 players including, 35 forwards, 19 defenseman, and 9 goaltenders are remaining for main camp scrimmages starting tomorrow morning.

Injury report: Matthew Needham, Elbow, day-to-day. Dylan Frey, Knee, Reassigned. Conner Clouston, Elbow, Reassigned.

SCRIMMAGE #3 at 9AM, Saturday, August 27, 2011

Team Blue 6, Team Black 3

Goal Scorers

1. Diego Cuglietta (Unassisted),
2. Tyson McLellan (Cuglietta)
3. Cuglietta (Jordan Levesque, Braiden Epp),
4. Keegan Kjargaard (Mitch Friesen, Kyler Nachtigall),
5. McLellan (Friesen)
6. Tyson Harvey (EN)

1. Brandon Becker (Alex Gillies, Ryan Rehill)
2. Mathew Hill (Zach Schlitt)
3. Alex Gillies (Unassisted)

SCRIMMAGE #4 at 12:00PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011

Team Orange 4, Team White 2

Goal Scorers

1. Matt McLeod (Jesse Haeusler)
2. Jesse Shynkaruk (Dylan Frey)
3. Jared Marchi (Unassisted)
4. Conner Richards (EN)

1. Jordan Thomson (Unassisted)
2. Eric Krienke (Brayden Gelsinger)

SCRIMMAGE #5 at 5:30PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011

Team Orange 6, Team Blue 2

Goal Scorers

1. Dylan Kooner (Tre Potskin)
2. Dylan Kooner (Unassisted)
3. Jared Broderson (Josh Connolly, Conner Richards)
4. Jared Marchi (Unassisted)
5. Tre Potskin (Richards, Longfellow)
6. Jared Marchi (Unassisted)

1. Kyler Nachtigall (Mitch Friesen)
2. Kyler Nachtigall (Unassisted)

SCRIMMAGE #6 at 7:30PM, Saturday, August 27, 2011

Team Black 4, Team White 3 SO

Goal Scorers

1. Devin Oakes (Unassisted)
2. Conner Bebb (C. Souto)
3. Conner Bebb (Unassisted)
4. SO goals by Alex Gillies and Conner Bebb

1. Darren Medeiros (Unassisted)
2. Cole Ully (Unassisted)
3. Eric Krienke (Cole Ully, Brayden Gelsinger)


9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Orange vs. Blue

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Orange vs. White

12 PM - 1PM
Blue vs White

Saturday Afternoon Report

More action today with a pair of rookie scrimmages earlier today with two more planned for this evening at 5:30/7:30pm.

Main camp scrimmages begin in the morning at 9am.

Here's our Radio NL training camp report for the afternoon...

Saturdaypmreport by keen941

Saturday Morning Report

Satamreport (newsbooth) by keen941

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day One Wrap

The first rookie scrimmages went off tonight with a few players showing off some skill and others with some physicality.

The Saturday morning report which will be posted here in the AM, includes some words from 16 year-old D Josh Connolly - the Blazers 3rd round pick in 2010. He played well despite his team losing 3-2 in a shootout in the 2nd scrimmage.

Had a chance to sit down with San Jose Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan who's son Tyson is in camp. Todd and I have some ties back to Swift Current. He was inducted into their Hall of Fame last summer for his time there as a Head Coach/General Manager with the Broncos. In fact he said the last junior hockey he's been around was back in Swift Current in the spring of 2000. From there, he joined the pro ranks with the AHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks and will be entering his 4th season with the Sharks next month.

Tyson received four WHL camp invites but sat down and made the decision to come to Kamloops on his own. He's playing up-front for Team Blue during rookie scrimmages.

Some interesting notes from camp (courtesy Kamloops Blazers)

There are currently 68 players in rookie camp (BC – 44, AB – 12, SK – 6, MB – 2, USA – 4) and 28 players in main camp (BC – 7, AB –8, SK – 5, MB – 1, USA – 3, SVK – 1, GER – 1).

Chase Souto, who was on the Blazers roster last season and brother Cole Souto, a free agent invite, are the only brothers at training camp.

Out of the 98 players in camp, 7 of them are Kamloops’ natives. This includes Ryan Hanes who is entering his third season with the hockey club, and 2011 9th round draft pick Liam McLeod.

There are four players whose Father’s have coached in the WHL. Free Agent invite Tyson McLellan from San Jose, CA is the son of former Swift Current Broncos Head Coach, Todd McLellan. Todd currently coaches the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. Free Agent invite Cooper Holick is the son of former Kootenay Ice Head Coach, Mark Holick. Mark currently coaches the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Blazers’ 7th round pick in 2010, MacKenzie Ferner is the son of former Blazers Head Coach, and current Everett Silvertips Head Coach, Mark Ferner. Finally, the Blazers’ 3rd round pick in 2011, Conner Clouston, is the son of Medicine Hat Tigers Head Coach, Shaun Clouston.

Blazers import defenseman Marek Hrbas arrived in Kamloops late Friday evening. The 18-year-old, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings in the summer, will skate for the first time tomorrow afternoon at 3:00pm.

Injury Report: Matt Needham, day-to-day, Elbow


SCRIMMAGE #1 at 5:30 PM

Team White 9, Team Blue 5

SCRIMMAGE #2 at 7:30 PM

Team Black 3, Team Orange 2


9:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Rookie Game- Black vs. Blue

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Rookie Goalies

12:00 PM - 1:45 PM
Rookie Game- Orange vs. White

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Main Camp Practice

5:30 PM - 7:15 PM
Rookie Game- Orange vs. Blue

7:30 PM - 9:15 PM
Rookie Game- White vs. Black

Blazer Training Camp Report Friday Afternoon

Blazer 420pm report by keen941

A reminder, week-end trainng camp updates via twitter @JonKeenNLSports


Blazer Training Camp Report #1

As heard on Radio NL this morning at 8:40am :

840 tc report by keen941

Our next report is at 4:25pm on Radio NL 610 AM, I'll try to post it later this afternoon after it airs...


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ten Things the Blazers Will Need to Overcome

Last week it was ten things to be excited about for the upcoming season, now it's time to look at the other side...ten things the Blazers need to overcome as they prepare for puck drop on the 2011/12 campaign. Situations just don't change because it's a new season, a team has to work at it to get better. Here's 10 things I think the Blazers will need to overcome...

1. Discipline - Yes it might as well be the number one issue. Last year's team showed at times a complete lack of it. Leading the league in PIMS for a good chunk of the season, the Blazers finished with the 4th most in the WHL with 1500 as a team. Key players were also suspended for parts of the season including Chase Schaber, Brendan Ranford, and Jordan DePape. Players served a total of 22 games in suspensions and quite frankly the team was in no position to get a break from the officiating for most of the season. I know discipline will be stressed throughout camp by the coaching staff and will be a focal point of this team moving forward.

2. Coaching Dynamic - The Blazers have not one, but two WHL head coaches on the bench this season. That is a good thing in my opinion but it poses some potential logistical problems. With the addition of Dave Hunchak as the team's Associate Coach, the Blazers will have to find a dynamic that works. Who controls what, who says what, and who puts their foot down. So far it's going well between Guy Charron and Dave Hunchak. I'm sure the two will be communicating their thoughts openly to get the best out of the scenario. Let's keep in mind, Guy felts Hunchak was the right guy for the job.

3. Penalty Kill - This has been a point of contention for this hockey club and is exposed more by the lack of discipline discussed above. Last year's PK had a decent 2nd half of the season but still only killed off powerplays at 76.4% - 20th out of 22 teams. Two seasons ago the PK was at 75.3% - again 20th out of 22 teams. A year before that, 76.9%. You have to go back to the 06/07 season to find the last time the PK was over 80% and even that year it was only 80.2%.

If the Blazers want to be a team in the upper echelon, it means the PK will have to be in the 83% to 85% range.

4. Defense - the Blazers gave up the most goals in the Western Conference last season with 285 - 3rd most in the league ahead of only fellow non-playoff teams Regina and Lethbridge. Granted, the Blazer blueline is older this season, they still have to go out and prove themselves. Just because everyone is a year older, improvement doesn't just magically happen.

With six returning veterans in Austin Madaisky, Bronson Maschmeyer, Tyler Hansen, Josh Caron, Brady Gaudet and newly acquired Marek Hrbas, it'll be up to all of them to take the next step. Madaisky, Caron and Maschmeyer will have to specifically lead the back-end but it'll be strength in numbers if the Blazers want to be a winner.

Dave Hunchak has a proven track record of developing defenseman as a coach. We will see if he can continue the trend with the Blazers.

5. Fragile mindset - The Blazers lost a handful of games last season and gave up precious points because of late goals against in tie games. Too many times the Blazers gave up that heartbreaking last minute goal. It was a "playing not to lose" mentality and not an assertive attitude that was their demise. There's nothing worse than giving up that late goal. It adds doubt and can snowball in a hurry. The Blazers need todictate the pace and flow in those situations and not sit back and react. It won't happen overnight, but every situation they overcome this season will build momentum in their favor.

6. Goaltending - the Blazers need to get quality goaltending all season long. They likely haven't had a legit game-stealing all-star goaltender since Devan Dubnyk in the 05/06 season. With the departure of Jeff Bosch, the Blazers will host an audition for the number one spot. Cam Lanigan and Cole Cheveldave are expected to battle it out in camp with Taran Kozun and Troy Trombley trying to push into a back-up role. As the saying only go as far as your goaltending.

7. Getting everyone on board - Last season I think there were times when not everyone was on the same page. Perhaps some players were more or less motivated than others and the coaching staff said as much in our post-game shows. It's cliche but the Blazers will need everyone "pulling on the rope in the same direction" this season if they want to have the year they hope to have.

8. Better play within the BC division - The Blazers lost every single head-to-head series in the BC division last season. A combined record of 10-19-1-2. Division games are always big ones...the Blazers gave up too many points to their division rivals leading to a last place finish in the BC division.

9. Being more resilient - The Blazers will have to show a bit more of it this season. Whether it's overcoming a bad call, bad goal or injury problems, this team will need to be able to handle adversity better. At times emotions get the best of this team and usually it had a negative effect. The Blazers will have to battle through it this season because adversity will come up several times over the course of a 72 game schedule.

10. Exorcising the playoff demons - The truth of the matter is this: No matter how good or bad of a regular season the Blazers have, their year will be judged on playoff success or lack thereof. The Blazers haven't won a playoff round since 1999 - the last time they went to the WHL Championship. Since then, they've amassed a 5-40 record in the playoffs with 10 straight series losses. It is the biggest issue dogging the Blazers and will be until this team gets through a round or two and takes a run at an Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tweetin' from Training Camp

For those looking for live, on-the-fly updates from training camp follow my twitter account @jonkeenNLsports. I've noticed a few extra followers lately from family members of Blazer veterans and hopefuls.

We will also be carrying daily training camp reports on
Radio NL 610 AM Kamloops.


GM Bonner Talks Training Camp; New Season

I recently sat down with Blazers General Manager to discuss the new season and training camp which starts officially Thursday night with rookie registration. The Blazers will have 73 rookies aged 15/16 on the ice with main camp adding another 29 players into the mix.

On the new season....

Bonner on new season by keen941

On camp expectations...

Bonner on camp expectations by keen941

On rookie camp and the players coming in...

Bonner on rookie camp by keen941

On the battle at the goaltending spot...

Bonner on goaltending by keen941

On the veteran blueline heading into camp...

Bonner on veteran blueline by keen941

On the battle within from the forward group...

Bonner on battle up front by keen941

On the forward group as a whole...

Bonner on forwards by keen941


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GM Craig Bonner Talks Training Camp

I sat down with Blazers GM Craig Bonner earlier this week to talk Blazer training camp. He discussed the expectations of both himself and the coaching staff and also broke down the individual positions and where the battles will be.

He stressed their will big a huge emphasis on inner-competition within the team throughout camp and the season ahead.

I'll post the audio of the interview tomorrow on this blog.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Blazers Announce Game Change

The location of the Kamloops Blazers pre-season game versus the Victoria Royals has been changed. The game will now be played at the McArthur Island Sports Centre on Friday, September 2nd starting at 7:00pm.

Tickets for the pre-season games and the Blue versus White intra-squad game are available for purchase at the Interior Savings Centre box office.

Tickets for the Blue vs. White intra-squad game on Tuesday, August 30th at the Interior Savings Centre will be $5, while tickets for all exhibition games will be $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors, and $5 for Youth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ten Reasons to be Excited for Blazer Season

Yes...that's a pretty big sign Blazer training camp is just days away. The ice is in at Interior Savings Center (photo credit Ashley Neuls) and it's time to start diving into the new season ahead. Today we take a look at "10 Reasons" to get excited about heading into the new year. Next week it's ten reasons that are concerning the team and areas they'll need improvement.

Rookies take to the ice a week from Friday for the first on-ice sessions, the veterans join the mix on the following Monday.

Here are ten reasons in no particular order....

1. Blazer defenseman Josh Caron says he's 100 percent as he heads into training camp. He missed most of last year with a collarbone injury and when he returned he admittedly wasn't the same player.

Caron heads into the league as potentially the most menacing force with the gloves off. It's something he didn't do very often last year but likely the main reason Minnesota signed him to a deal as a free-agent out of training camp last year. Caron racked up 190 PIMs in the 09-10 season but the injury limited him to just 27 games and 47 PIMS

2. Rookie forward Matt Needham will be here on a full-time basis this season as a 16 year-old.

The Blazers first round pick in the 2010 draft (8th overall) saw action in 13 games picking up 3-4-7. At times he was centering the top line because of injuries.

I'm not sure what a realistic offensive goal is for Matt this season but I'm assuming he will be put in offensive situations that most 16 year-olds usually don't get.

The stocky forward is physically ready to play at this level. The first ever 2nd generation Blazer will be exciting to watch develop over the years.

3. Dylan Willick comes into training camp in great shape and with confidence after getting an invite to Minnesota Wild prospects camp this summer and a return invite to the Wild for the fall.

Willick will be thrust into a leadership role and hopefully his "lead by example" style will be contagious with this teammates.

The transformed Kamloopsian will play in all situations now in his 3rd year and be looked upon for more offensive output following last years 24 goals and 20 assists in what was his coming out party.

4. The time is now for D Brady Gaudet to establish himself as a full-time top four d-man. The former 1st round bantam pick slid into the top 4 at times last year and shows a ton of promise moving into his 2nd year in the league.

Brady has shown some good offensive instincts and will get a shot on the PP. This is a big year for Brady...and he knows it.

5. Speaking of defenseman, the Blazers can't wait for the WHL debut of 15 year-old 1st round pick Jordan Thomson at some point this season.

The Wawanesa, MB product is the highest ever bantam pick in franchise history at4th overall.

Coming off the NHL Mentorship Camp in Toronto, Thomson will likely see a call-up early if there's injuries or during the Blazers east division swing.

It'll be a treat watching him perform at rookie camp next week as we get our first look at the highly touted prospect.

6. I think Colin Smith is due for a big season. The 18 year-old forward has been the successor to the offensive throne since he was drafted by the Blazers back in 2008 with the 7th overall pick.

Smith had a strong 2nd half of the season which led to the majority of his 21 goals. His 50 points last year could easily be 70+ if he picks up where he left off.

He's coming off a strong U-18 World Championship in Germany. He excelled in his role as a checker while working his way from the 13th forward for Team Canada into a prominent role at the end.

Colin has personality, creativity and the ability to finish. After being passed over in the NHL draft this summer he should come with all the motivation necessary for a big year in a Blazer uniform.

7. Goaltender Cole Cheveldave comes in after a great season in the AJHL with the Drumheller Dragons. The league's rookie of the year, and runner-up for AJHL MVP enters his 18 year-old season an instantly comes in looking to land the starter role.

Cheveldave impressed during a visit with the team late last year in which he came in to get a feel for the city and the hockey club. He later signed with the team.

He's got an edge, he's a confident kid and will look to battle Cam Lanigan for #1 job with the departure of graduated goaltender Jeff Bosch.

8. After a scary incident back in early February which led to a season ending broken C-7 vertebrae, Austin Madaisky will return healthy and ready to assert himself as the team's #1 defenseman.

Madaisky will have a strong supporting stuff around him which should take some of the pressure off. The 19 year-old will have to accept the role of being a defenseman who will play against the league's top offensive players on a night in, night out basis. A 5th round choice of the Columbus Blue Jackets back in the summer of 2010, I expect him to be a bit tentative when he comes back into a game situation based on the hit he took from Chilliwack D Brandon Manning which led to a seven-game suspension and three months for Madaisky in an Aspen collar

9. The big line (Ranford/Schaber/DePape). For the first couple months of last season, a case could be made this trio was the best line in the WHL. Injury and suspensions really led to the demise of this line. All three were suspended at different times this season and all three battled injury problems at different times as well.

Returning healthy and motivated could lead to big things for this trio. This year though we will be surrounded with a better supporting cast to take some of the burden off their shoulders.

10. The Blazers win at nearly all cost attitude this season. There's no doubt patience has worn thin when it comes to this team's mindset from the fans, to the players, to the coaches and especially the ownership group.

The recent struggles are well documented. They haven't advanced past the 1st round since 1999. Since then, they've amassed a 5-36 record in the post-season. That's nine straight series losses.

If the Blazers are a legit contender after Christmas, expect a potential blockbuster deal to perhaps put the team over the top. They have to put themselves in that situation first. It's definitely attainable but for now the Blazers have to go out and do it.

They certainly will have the support both on and off the ice.

Let's drop the puck on a new season.

Thoughts? Comments? Additions?


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tom Gaglardi Interview

Blazers part-owner Tom Gaglardi was on Radio NL's Jim Harrison Show this morning and covered a few topics. The complete interview is below.

T.gaglardi jh show..aug. 1111 by keen941

Monday, August 08, 2011

Catching up with Darryl Reaugh, Jarome Iginla & Shane Doan

Up at Sun Peaks Resort on Friday for the Blazers Annual Alumni Golf Tournament... I had a chance to talk to a bunch of alumni... here's a few interviews from the course...

Darryl Reaugh played with the Blazers in the mid-80's as a goaltender. He's now in his 16th season as the Dallas Stars Color Commentator on Stars broadcasts on FSN.

Also Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan who are prepping for another season in the NHL in the fall....

Shane Doan by keen941

Jarome iginla by keen941

Darryl reaugh by keen941

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Blazers Anniversary Logo

The Blazers hosted a successful alumni tournament Friday at Sun Peaks Resort. I had a chance to catch up with some of the former players and ownership group. I'll be posting the audio of some of the interviews and using some throughout the season on the Blazer broadcasts on Radio NL.

I should have some of the interviews up today or tomorrow....


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Willick Carries WCSG Torch

Blazer F Dylan Willick was one of 40 torchbearers Friday leading up to the Opening Ceremonies of the Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Eric Doyle Quitting Hockey

When I first saw I had an email from Eric Doyle, I was excited to see what was new with him.

A player I had called games for when he played for the Swift Current Broncos for parts of four seasons, he was always a favorite of mine. But as I read the email, my thoughts turned from excitement to disappointment to sadness.

In the message Eric told me he was done playing hockey. On advice from Doctors, he was packing in his career because of concussions and post-concussion syndrome.

The Calgary native broke into the WHL with the Everett Silvertips in 2005-06 after being a 1st round bantam pick by the 'Tips in 2004. A blockbuster trade involving Dane Crowley and the late Jordan Mistelbacher sent him to Swift Current midway through the 2006-07 season.

Doyle played in the annual CHL/NHL Top Prospects game that season and the future looked bright for the 17 year-old.

He was passed over in the 2007 NHL draft.

After nearly four full seasons in Bronco colors, Doyle was shipped to the Portland Winterhawks partway through his over-age season.

This is his story:

It was the final two seasons of his WHL career and along with it came three concussions. He's never been the same... and just hasn't fully recovered with several symptoms still looming daily.

"Over my career I had five diagnosed concussions...and probably two more that weren't. The last three concussions all came pretty close together and were the worst by far," said Doyle.

The first of the three happened one night in Swift Current. The Kamloops Blazers were in town in November of '08 and Doyle took a blind-side hit from CJ Stretch in open ice. The hit drew a four-game suspension. Doyle returned after missing only a game.

"The Stretch hit really started it and i think i came back too early from that one because we were injury plagued on defense at the time," recalled Doyle.

Doyle found his way back into the line-up and finished the regular season strong.

I remember the "Get Eric Doyle on Team WHL" Campaign when Swift Current hosted one of the games on the ADT Canada-Russia series. Doyle never played in the game in Swift Current for but was an injury replacement the following night against the Russians in Prince Albert.

The Broncos then met the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first round of the playoffs in a seven-game war. A head shot by Tigers D Matt McCue resulted in another Doyle concussion. It was game four of the series and the playoffs were over for him. McCue was handed a one game suspension.

"The McCue hit ended my playoffs. I was able to come home and not worry about getting back in the lineup. It took me a while at the gym before i felt ready to train again so i was a step behind physically going into the next season."

The Broncos then dealt Doyle to Portland the next year to get down to the maximum of three twenty year-olds.

He says a concussion late in the season on a hit from Tri-City American F Todd Kennedy turned out to be another damaging blow. Again... he thinks he came back too soon.

"That hit was really bad and I put pressure on myself to get back for playoffs being a leader and an older guy on the team. I dont think i was fully ready to come back that soon."

After being eliminated from the playoffs in the 09-10 season with the Hawks, he then shifted focus to his pro career.

I went to Manchester camp in the AHL and felt fine. Then I went to the Ontario Reign in the Coast and was playing really well. Then took a hit to the head and got diagnosed with another concussion."

I was cleared to play again, and played a handful of games. Then one day in practice I was hit in the temple with a high stick and blacked out. I didn't think much of it because it was just a high stick and kept practicing. The next day during morning skate I felt really light headed and dizzy and almost passed out during the skate.

Doctor said as much as a flick can concuss me. That was early November and the last time I have been on skates...."

I asked Eric if he was ok talking about some of the symptoms he's still facing.

"Yeah i want to get it out there," he said.

"Maybe it can help some kids going through concussion problems. Dizzyness, Nausea, headaches, short term memory are the physical things that still linger everyday. I've been treated and seeing therapists for depression and social anxiety disorder. I also have severe sleep problems which the docs all said are concussion related for me. "

"There are more people then you would think that deal with this but are afraid to say anything. I think it would be good for other players to see this to know its ok to admit they have problems."

He's not blaming anyone for how it all went down though.

"I want to make it clear it wasn't the fault of any of the coaches or trainers that I came back early. it was my own decision, and if anything it shows the computer testing can be cheated."

He wanted me to share some advice as well.

"I encourage anyone that has had a concussion to be honest with themselves, the trainers and the coaches about how you're feeling. It's not worth it to come back early if your not ready.. I know first hand. Your life is more important then hockey."

He continued...

"If you are away from home dealing with depression you need to find someone to talk to. I know a lot of teams have psychologists but also coaches and teammates are good to talk to as well. It takes a bigger man to admit you have a problem!"

I still love the game and cherished the times I had playing the game and the five years I spent in the WHL. I want to stay involved in the game some how and have always been interested in the scouting part of the game having gone through the bantam draft and the disappointments with the NHL draft."

Eric is now home in Calgary. He has five years of WHL paid education at his disposal through the WHL Scholarship Program... something he says he's "so grateful for". Doctors think school would be a bit too much for him to handle at this time so he's hoping to enroll after Christmas.

For now, he's working in his dad's sporting goods store, hoping someday to feel like his old self.

He says he's sought the appropriate help and is feeling happy about things, remaining positive for what lies ahead.


Countdown underway....

As we hit August, thoughts of WHL training camps begin to take over. The Blazers have rookie camp registration set for Thursday, August 25th with rookie on-ice sessions beginning the next day on the 26th.

As we get closer to training camp, I'll be blogging two separate pieces focusing on "10 Things" to get excited about for the upcoming season, and "10 Things" the Blazers should be concerned about.

The Blazers Alumni golf tournament is set for Friday up at Sun Peaks. I hope to upload some pics from the event along the way either to this blog or my twitter (on the right side of the page) @JonKeenNLSports.

Till then, enjoy what's left of summer...