Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blazers Deal Caron

As reported earlier on our post-game show tonight following the Blazers 4-3 win in Victoria, the Blazers have dealt Josh Caron for a 4th round bantam pick in 2014.

Here's the news release:


Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers announced Tuesday evening that they have sent 20-year-old defenseman Josh Caron to the Everett Silvertips in exchange for a 4th round draft pick.

Caron spent three and a half seasons with the Blazers and played 128 games. He racked up 375 penalty minutes in that time.
“With eight defensemen on the roster, we felt the need to give more ice time to our younger defensemen,” General Manager Craig Bonner said. “We’d also like to thank Josh for his time as a Blazer and wish him the best of luck.”

The Kamloops Blazers are back on home ice this weekend as they host the Prince George Cougars on Friday night and Victoria Royals on Saturday. Friday night is the annual Teddy Bear / Toque Toss. For tickets, call the Box Office

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blazers Host Ice

 It's the only meeting of the season between the Blazers and Kootenay Ice as they meet at Interior Savings Center. (6:30pm pre-game, 7pm face-off on Radio NL).

- The Ice come in as the defending Ed Chynoweth Cup Champions and so far have picked up where they left off...they lead the tough Central division with a record of 16-5-1-2.  They've won all three games on this BC Division swing with stops in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George. After tonight's game, they conclude the trip Friday night in Kelowna.  Tonight's game will be their fourth in five nights.

- Ice G Nathan Lieuwen leads the Eastern Conference in both GAA (1.82) and save % (.936).  He will most likely get the start. The Ice threw back-up 'tender Mackenzie Skapski between the pipes last night in Prince George in a 3-2 win.

- The Blazers open up a three-game homestand and enter tonight's contest picking up points in the last three games.  They sit 2nd in the BC division at 14-6-1 - two points behind Vancouver but holding four games in-hand.

- Last year the Blazers won 8-5 in Cranbrook last season in their only meeting of the season.  It was the final game of a February Central division trip where they Blazers picked up 9/10 points.

- Former Blazer captain Ajay Baines will join the broadcast in the 1st intermission.  He's part of tonight's "Blazer Indo-Canadian Night"

- Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi will be our 2nd period guest. We spoke with Tom earlier this week following the completion of his purchase of the Dallas Stars.

- Blazer "Hockey Talk" is set for tomorrow evening on Radio NL.  We'll be on the air from 5:30pm to 7pm and invite your questions by email at  Tweet me @JonKeenNLSports or call the show tomorrow 250-374-5345.  Guests include Guy Charron, Dave Hunchak, Craig Bonner and D Bronson Maschmeyer.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Dallas Stars Introduce Tom Gaglardi as Owner Today

Here's the link to the news conference today.

He chuckled off the top after catching himself calling the Stars the "Blazers" in his opening remarks. Also Commisioner Gary Bettman delivered a good line off the top too.  Give it a watch.


Blazers prove they're for real / Weekend stories

     The most common phrase heading into two road games in Spokane and Tri-City was "measuring stick weekend".  After all, the Blazers were heading into Spokane (9-1 at home) and Tri-City - the top team in the Western Conference and 3rd ranked team in the Nation if you choose to put stock in the weekly CHL Top 10.  It was built as an opportunity to see how much progress the team has made this season after a strong start.

     The Blazers hadn't won in Spokane since November 2008, and haven't escaped Tri-City with two points since December 2008. While the winless streak in Tri-City will continue following a 3-2 OT loss, the Blazers 2-1 win in Spokane at least gave the Blazers a chance for a perfect weekend south of the border heading into the contest against the Americans. 

   Saturday night the Americans came out hard as expected and controlled the first period.  A 5-on-3 PP goal from Adam Hughesman was followed 30 seconds later with a breakaway goal from Malte Stromwall after a gaffe from D Bronson Maschmeyer.  The Blazers found their game in the 2nd period but didn't gain any ground on the Americans two-goal lead.  A Chase Schaber PP goal early in the 3rd period brought the Blazers within one.  A Matt Needham shot from the left side boards deflected in with just over six minutes to play to even the game 2-2.

    The Blazers had to kill a late penalty with 2:58 to play which sent the game to overtime.  OT started 3-on-3 because of coincidental penalties to Maschmeyer and Mason Wilgosh at 19:57 of the 3rd.  As expected, the teams never got back to 4-on-4 as Justin Feser scored on a rebound after an Americans 2-on-1 with Feser and Derek Ryckman. 

Goaltender Cole Cheveldave was especially solid in both games this weekend.  He made sure the Blazer deficit stayed at 2-0 vs Tri-City.  He allowed his team the comeback bid, even if the Blazers did have to settle for the single point.

I caught up with F Dylan Willick after the two-game swing.  For the most part he thinks they accomplished what they set out to do.

Willick1 by keen941

As for settling for three out of a possible four points?

Willick2 by keen941

The Blazers had Sunday off after arriving back in Kamloops just after 7am from Kennewick, WA.  They now get set for three home games this weekend beginning with the defending Ed Chynoweth Cup Champion Kootenay Ice Wednesday night.

The Ice will be playing their fourth game of a BC swing.  They've started with a pair of wins in Victoria (8-3) and Vancouver (4-1).  The Ice play in Prince George Tuesday before visiting Kamloops the next night.


Here's what else is on my mind today......

- Spokane Chiefs Head Coach Don Nachbaur had some colorful quotes following the Blazers 2-1 win in Spokane. Nachbaur told Dave Trimmer of the Spokesman-Review “Just so the fans know, I was booing them too. We had four fourth-lines tonight.”
“Too long of layoff is an excuse. We worked hard all week, come into the game and we don’t work. We stand around and watch. We did not skate. The bottom line with our hockey team is we’re not a hard-working team, we’re a lazy team. We played lazy.”

- Spokane is a good team even if they're missing offensive catalysts Tyler Johnson and Levko Koper from last season.  Spokane will have a chance to win in their building every night though, and that's saying a lot with division rivals Portland and Tri-City in their division.

- Friday's win was especially sweet for G Cole Cheveldave.  Cheveldave attended Chiefs training camp twice as a 15 and 16 year-old after they listed him following the 2008 bantam draft. In may not be as simple as saying they chose G Mac Engel over him, but that's the way it shakes out. Engel has proven to be a capable 'tender in this league as well.  His coming out party was last year when starter James Reid got injured in the 2nd half.  Engel used the opportunity to be named the WHL goaltender of the month back in February.

-While we're on the topic...has Cheveldave turned into the go-to guy for the Blazers between the pipes?  Head Coach Guy Charron was asked that question Saturday night in our post-game show following back-to-back starts from the 18 year-old 'tender.  Guy doesn't want to put labels on #1 or #2.  He fully expects to use both goaltenders in crucial games heading into the Christmas break.

- WHL fight fans are gonna love this story from the weekend..... I talked to Blazer D Josh Caron following his heavyweight scrap with the Chiefs Darren Kramer.  You can watch that scrap here -  Caron vs Kramer

During warm-ups Caron and Kramer exchanged words by the bench.  Kramer asked Caron if it was going to be round two with Chiefs D Cobin Baldwin tonight (following their epic center-ice tilt in Kamloops last month). Josh replied "nope, this time I want you."  Kramer eventually agreed...but on his terms.  Josh wanted it right off the hop...but Kramer wanted to pick his spot.  I guess they met somewhere in the middle as they shed their gear in the 2nd period.  Ironically, the fight wasn't included in the highlights package posted later on the Chiefs website. They did however show Steve Kuhn and Colin Smith's tilt.  It turned out to be a one-sided affair in Kuhn's affair. 

- WHL broadcasters are all homers, it's part of the job. It's a word that doesn't offend me in the least.  The homerism gets turned up seven notches during a scrap.

- It's the tough guys in the league I respect the most.  Imagine dropping your gloves and skating to center-ice in front of 5000 people.  Theses guys put their pride and reputation on the line.  Further to my chat with Caron...He also told me there's nothing like it.  Nothing compares to the feeling he gets when he squares-off with someone at center-ice and he feels the energy in the building rise all around him.  It's especially true in the U.S. markets where fans go bananas for that action. 

- Blazer Head Coach Guy Charron found his way to the broadcast booth in Spokane after a little bit of an adventure.  "I was in the freight elevator, and had to try and figure out how to operate that first," he explained on our post-game show."Then I jumped in another elevator to get me up here...and once you're up still have a ways to's a maze.  Any visitor who's ventured up to the press-area at the Spokane Arena can attest to Guy's take. 

I wrapped up our interview wishing him luck finding his way down...."thank-you I'll try, but if I don't make it please come look for me."  Guy is an easy guy to root for.

- It was good to catch-up with Regina Pats broadcaster Dan Plaster Thursday night in downtown Spokane.  The Pats travelled through the night departing Wednesday at midnight.  They stopped in Cranbrook for a morning practice and then continued on from there.   Dan is always up for some fun.  Good guy. He's in his 2nd year with the Pats but we go back all the way to the late 90's when we were both in Lethbridge together.  Dan has come a long ways in his short time in the WHL.  It's scary to think how good he could get at calling games. 

- A lot of things impressed me in Tri-City Saturday night.  First and foremost the atmosphere was electric thanks to over 5400 packed into the Toyota Center. It was certainly the largest crowd I've seen in my seven or eight visits in my time.  It's loud, and the fans are into it.

- Americans F Patrick Holland controlled the game each time he was on the ice.  Often rushing the puck up ice and through two or three players.  Poise is a word that best describes the 19 year-old.

- I was given a celebratory cupcake Saturday in honor of Craig West calling his 1000th game with the Americans earlier this month.  I later tweeted "I just had a celebratory cupcake in honor of Craig tasted dry and sarcastic".   I told Westie later, he loved it. He used on his facebook status later in the evening and followed it up by saying "Kamloops is the most improved team I've seen so far".

- A reminder of our 2nd edition of Blazer Hockey Talk coming up Thursday night on Radio NL.  We are still finalizing guests.  We will hit the airwaves around 5:30pm.  I should know our line-up in the next day or two.  You can get a question or comment to us by emailing  Or send me a tweet @JonKeenNLSports.

- The Blazers just missed an earthquake by a few hours in Northern Washington and the South Okanagan on their way south. It was measured at 4.6. The Blazers passed through the epicenter of the quake about 12 hours before it happened.

- The Blazers practiced in Osoyoos Thursday morning.  It was nice to break up the trip to Spokane by stopping in such a nice place.  Thanks to KIJHL Osoyoos Coyotes owner Randy Bedard for the hospitality.  Randy has a radio background and calls the road games too. They're trying to make a go of it in Osoyoos and it sounds like the 2nd year Junior "B" franchise is more than holding its own.  This after a league championship in their first season.


Monday, November 14, 2011

GM Bonner on today's moves

Blazer General Manager Craig Bonner spoke with Radio NL this afternoon on the moves...

On trading JT Barnett to the Everett Silvertips for a 3rd round pick in 2013:

Onbarnett by keen941

On acquiring F Brock Balson and getting him into the line-up:

Bonneronbalson by keen941

Brock Balson is expected to join the Blazers at practice tomorrow.  The Blazers depart for Spokane Thursday morning for weekend games in Spokane Friday night and Tri-City Saturday.


Barnett Traded to Everett, Balson Recalled & Random Thoughts

- The Blazers dealt 19 year-old F JT Barnett to the Everett Silvertips for a 3rd round bantam pick in 2013 today.  The move gives the Blazers a bargaining chip for later this season and frees up a spot for someone else amongst the forward group to take an increased role.

From JT's perspective, it's an opportunity for him in a new place to get an important year kick-started.  Barnett has scored four goals this season - three of them came in consecutive games on a Central division road swing.  Barnett scored goals in Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat on the swing.  It appeared as if he was finding his groove.

It never materialized back on home ice though.  The Blazers acquired Barnett from the Vancouver Giants for a 2nd round pick back in July of 2010.

- The Blazers also recalled F Brock Balson from the BCHL's Salmon Arm Silverbacks.  He was recently listed by the Blazers after being dropped by Prince Albert.  In two seasons with the Raiders he scored once and added two assists in 50 games.  The Kamloops native had scored nine goals and added 11 assists in 20 games for the Silverbacks this season.

- Despite only winning one of two weekend home games, I thought it was a great two nights at Interior Savings Center from an entertainment and atmosphere perspective.  Fans are making some noise and have been energized by the team's play this year.  Fans are having fun, making some noise and it continues to build.  The Blazers won't play at home now until Wednesday the 23rd when they welcome the Kootenay Ice.

- Blazer F Colin Smith is off to Regina to take part in the Subway Super Series game vs the Russian Selects Wednesday night.  Initially left off the team, Smith was added early last week.  He'll rejoin the team for a pair of weekend games in Spokane and Tri-City this weekend.

- The Blazers are again featured in the latest WHL Plays of the Week.  You can watch it here.

- The Blazers have received some good mileage from their 4th line recently.  Ryan Hanes, Aspen Sterzer and Chase Souto "set the tone" Saturday night against Edmonton according to Head Coach Guy Charron.  If you talk about the Blazers best player this past weekend, Hanes would be in the discussion.

- The  Blazers will head south to Spokane Thursday to play the Chiefs Friday and then Tri-City Saturday.  It was tough sledding in those two barns last season.  The Blazers were 0/4 combined and outscored 32-9.  32 goals against in four games....that's eight goals allowed per game.  That's a lot. It'll be a tough place this year too. Both the Chiefs and Americans are out to great starts.  Spokane is 9-1 at home this year, Tri-City is 7-2 at the Toyota Center.  In many ways these two games can be used to see how much progress the Blazers have made.

- I ran into Gregg Drinnan of the Daily News Friday night...literally.  We collided in the media box as I was stepping into the hallway behind the radio booth. He definitely caught me on  my blindside, I may have delivered a blow to the head.  Suspensions are tbd.

- For the Swift Current Bronco folks who still check in here from time-to-time... you can bet this Sunday night in Vancouver is the place to be.  Former Bronco teammates and friends Dale Weise and Zack Smith collide as the Canucks host the Ottawa Senators.  Both represented by the same agent, they're trying to get as many as tickets as possible for this one for family and friends.  Personally, this one might be worth the drive over the Coquihalla for. 

- It's good to see former Bronco D Aaron Rome beginning to blossom with the Canucks.  He had three points in last night's 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders at Rogers Arena  He's on a roll lately. I've said it before...Rome was one of my favorite d-men over the years on and off the ice.  The swagger meter was always at a 10.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Blazers Host Rebels on Remembrance Day

The Blazers and Rebels play a matinee game this afternoon at Interior Savings Center as they meet for a 2nd time this season.  In the first meeting just over three weeks ago, the Rebels scored two goals within a minute in the third period and G Patrik Bartosak made 30 saves as the Rebels picked up a 4-2 win in Red Deer.

If the Czech import Bartosak starts today, it's shaping up to be a good battle of rookie goaltenders who are emerging for their club.  The Blazers will go with Cole Cheveldave between the pipes

Bartosak's numbers are impressive at 12-3 with a save % of .934 and a 2.04 GAA.  Cheveldave's early numbers have been great too - 6-1 with a save % of .926 and a 2.27 GAA.

The Rebels don't have a lot of scoring.  They are not an explosive team, rather a patient and well structured group.  Bartosak and strong coaching is probably the two biggest aspects of their impressive 12-4-0-1 start.

They have also been strong on special teams.  The Rebels penalty-kill is ranked 1st in the WHL at 86.3 % while their PP is 4th best at 24.6 %.

The Rebels are playing game two of a four-game BC division swing.  They defeated Kelowna 6-4 Tuesday in the first game of the trip.  They will play back-to-back nights in Victoria tomorrow and Sunday before heading back to Alberta. 

The Blazers enter having lost two of their last three.  They dropped a 3-1 decision in Prince George Saturday in their last game.  JT Barnett practiced with Brendan Ranford and Chase Schaber this week at practice and I'd expect that trio to be reunited. 

At 12-5, the Blazers lead the BC division but their lead has shrunk to just a single point over the Vancouver Giants who have come on recently.  The Blazers do hold three games in-hand. 

It's the 2nd time the Blazers have played the afternoon 2pm game this season.  Back on Thanksgiving Day, they blew a 4-1 2nd period lead and lost to Medicine Hat 5-4.

We're on the air with our Radio NL pre-game show at 1:30pm, the play-by-play at 2pm.