Thursday, September 01, 2011

Blazers Vs Royals

- Expect a mix of rookies and veterans as the Blazers get ready to open up the pre-season schedule at home against the Victoria Royals (7pm, Sports Center - Mac Island)

- The teams had a bitter rivalry at times last season when the Royals were the Chilliwack Bruins. Both coaches used Radio NL airwaves to express their opinions of one another. Don't expect any of that to carry least not tonight anyways. These game, as always are more about evaluation than they are about wins and losses. Make no mistake though, wins can build confidence - even if it is the pre-season.

- The Blazers have 26 of their 29 bodies available for tonight's game. Jordan DePape, JC Lipon, and Matt Needham will skip the game due to injury. Needham was back on the practice ice yesterday after missing all of training camp with an elbow injury related to an off-ice ATV accident. He's been working out off-ice and I don't expect missing camp will set him back all that much.

- I'd expect 15 year-old first-rounder Jordan Thomson to make his Blazer debut. The Wawanesa, MB native has been in Kamloops now for awhile. He was skating with the veterans even before rookie camp began a week ago.

- Not sure what the goaltending plan will be. The Blazers will dress two of the three goaltenders remaining on their roster. No word if they plan to give a goaltender a full-game or split it midway.

- The Blazers have eight players off to NHL camps next week. Colin Smith - EDM, Chase Schaber - EDM, Dylan Willick - MIN, Josh Caron - MIN, Brendan Ranford - PHI, Austin Madaisky - CBJ, Jordan DePape - WPG, JT Barnett - NJ. Some of the players will begin leaving September 8th.

- I'd like to see the Blazers turn the intensity up a notch in what is the first opportunity to play against someone other than themselves since last season. After what was a virtual no-hitter of a Blue-White game, I hope to see the pace pick up.

- This is our first look at what will be a very different looking team than last year's edition in Chilliwack. No more Lucas Gore in goal. The Kamloops native played out his eligibility last season after a strong final year as an over-ager. Gone are defensemen Brandon Manning (graduation) and Mitch Topping (traded to Tri-City). Up front, the Royals lose the dynamic duo of Ryan Howse and Roman Horak. They also dealt Dylan McKinley to the Kootenay Ice for defenseman over-age defenseman Hayden Rintoul. Expect them to be lead offensively by the smooth skating Kevin Sundher and the potential return of 20 year-old/import Robin Soudek.

- The Royals also have a new broadcaster. Marlon Martens comes back into the league from Lethbridge after being out of WHL broadcasting for a couple seasons. Randy Merkley didn't make the trip to the island with the team and is re-locating with his wife to Calgary.

- I'd also expect an excited Joey Hicketts to make his WHL debut for the Royals. The Kamloops native and former Jardine Blazer was the Royals first pick in this summer's bantam draft - 12th overall. I remember talking to Royals Director of Scouting Garry Pochipinski minutes after they selected Hicketts in the first round. He told me Hicketts was #1 on their list and were thrilled to see him still available at #12. Hicketts officially signed his WHL Player Agreement yesterday.

- There is no broadcast on Radio NL for this game. Our first broadcast will be the season opener - September 24th vs the Prince George Cougars. Rick "The Bear" Wile will serve as my primary color commentator once again while Radio NL's Jeremy Bosch will handle some games and will be doing end-of-period interviews from ice level with members of the Blazers and the opposition coaching staff.

No comments: