THE FIRST QUARTER: The Kamloops Blazers franchise is in their 34th season in the Western Hockey League and the 31st season as the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers have a record of 9-8-1-1 this season and sit in a three-way tie in second place in the B.C. Division with 20 points. Cole Ully and Matt Needham lead the Blazers in scoring with 26 and 21 points so far this season. The Blazers are coming off a 4-1 loss and a 3-2 shootout loss in Prince George last weekend. The Blazers close out a stretch of four straight road games in Tri-City tonight and in Portland tomorrow night. The Blazers will be back at home for a game on Friday, November 14th.
Vs. Tri-City – This Season (4-Game Series)
Game 1: 10/08/13, vs. Tri-City 3, Kamloops 2
Game 2: 10/11/13, at Tri-City 4, Kamloops 1
Game 3: 01/07/14, at Tri-City 2, Kamloops 1
Game 4: 02/10/14, vs. Tri-City 2, Kamloops 1
Blazers were 0-4-0-0 in season series
Vs. Tri-City – This Season (4-Game Series)
Game 1: 10/25/14, at Tri-City 0, Kamloops 2
Game 2: 11/07/14, at Tri-City, Kamloops
Game 3: 01/21/15, vs. Tri-City, Kamloops
Game 4: 02/09/15, vs. Tri-City, Kamloops
Blazers are 1-0-0-0 in season series
ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The Blazers roster currently sits at 25 players (2 goaltenders, 8 defensemen and 15 forwards). The roster includes 11 players selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, six players via trade, six players from the free agent list, and two players selected from the CHL Import Draft. The roster breakdown by region includes eight from Alberta, eight players from B.C., six from Saskatchewan, two from Manitoba, one from Slovakia, and one from Switzerland. There are 14 WHL veterans on the roster and 11 WHL rookies.
ULLY ON TEAM WHL: Kamloops Blazers’ 19-year-old forward Cole Ully was added to Team WHL for the Subway Super Series next week in Saskatoon and Brandon. Ully has been off to a great start with 26 points in 16 games this season. He will be back in the line-up this weekend after missing all three games last week due to an illness.
THE MATCH UP: The Blazers and Americans are meeting for the second of four times this season. The Blazers were in Tri-City on October 25th, and won 2-0 over the Americans. Connor Ingram posted the shutout in goal with 25 saves for the Blazers. The Americans will be in Kamloops twice in the second half of the season on January 21st and February 9th.
KAMLOOPS BLAZERS ‘Who to Watch’: The Kamloops Blazers offensive leaders are a year older as the hockey club returned virtually all of their top scorers from last season. Cole Ully (9+17=26) and Matt Needham (7+14=21) are the longest tenured Blazers up front. Ully leads the WHL in scoring and Needham is having his best start to the season. 20-year-old Mike Winther (4+7=11) was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen and has added some offense to the hockey club. The trade acquisitions last season of Collin Shirley (3+4=7) and Matt Revel (5+6=11) have added some secondary scoring to rely on for the Blazers. 20-year-old Logan McVeigh (2+3=5) was added today to add more depth up front. Jesse Shynkaruk (1+4=5) and Luke Harrison (3+2=5) provide leadership and added depth up front. Sophomore forward Nick Chyzowski (3+2=5) will still have time to fine tune his game and be counted on as a two-way player. Jake Kryski (5+6=11) and Deven Sideroff (9+10=19) are among the WHL rookie scoring leaders. Jesse Zaharichuk (1+4=5) has had a solid start for the hockey club. Jermaine Loewen (0+0=0), Spencer Bast (0+0=0), and Quinn Benjafield (0+2=2) are the other forwards on the roster. All three are 16 or 17 and will have time to grow and develop. On defence, the Blazers have had some big changes from last season. The additions of 20-year-old Brady Gaudet (1+4=5), 19-year-old import Michael Fora (1+7=8) and 18-year-old import Patrik Maier (2+1=3) has added size and offense to the defense. Gaudet is a fifth year player who started his WHL career in Kamloops. He will be counted on to add leadership in the dressing room and to play in all situations. Fora and Maier are two additions that have made the transition to the WHL quicker than most import players due to their physical stature and age. The return of 19-year-olds Ryan Rehill (2+5=7) and Josh Connolly (3+7=10) solidifies the backend. Connor Clouston (0+1=1) will have his opportunity to fit into the top-6 and play a regular shift this season. Cam Reagan (0+0=0) and Travis Verveda (0+0=0) are both capable 17-year-old players that will need to establish themselves to earn ice time. In goal, Cole Kehler (3-3-1-0, 3.39, .894) returns after spending part of last season with the Blazers as a 16-year-old. Kehler has had two very good seasons with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget Prep team. Connor Ingram (2-3-0-1, 3.16, .903) is the other 17-year-old goaltender on the Blazers roster. Both goaltenders have been impressive as they will share the duties going forward for the hockey club.
TRI-CITY AMERICANS ‘Who to Watch’: The Americans are scoring by committee right now with Parker Bowles, Brian Williams, Lucas Nickles and Beau McCue leading the way. Bowles and Williams can both be big time scoring threats. The offense got a boost this week as the Americans acquired 20-year-old forward Richard Nejezchleb from the Brandon Wheat Kings. He is a big time scoring threat who adds size to the Americans. Justin Gutierrez and Braden Putrill are both second year players that have bigger roles this season. They are counted on to add some secondary scoring. Vladislav Lukin has performed well in his first WHL season from Russia. Ty Comrie and Taylor Vickerman are both veteran players who will be expected to contribute more as the season progresses. On defence, the Americans are young but talented. Justin Hamonic is the team captain and their veteran leader. He is big and strong and will match up against the Blazers top line. Brandon Carlo, Josh Thrower and Parker Wotherspoon are all solid two-way defensemen. Carlo and Wotherspoon are highly rated for the 2015 NHL Draft. Thrower is in his third WHL season. Riley Hillis is the other veteran on the roster. Dylan Coghlan, Brendan O’Rielly, and Kurtis Rutledge are the three rookies on the backend. The Americans goaltending is a solid duo led by 19-year-old Eric Comrie. Comrie is one of the best goaltenders in Canada and is the backbone of the Americans. He is a second round NHL pick of the Winnipeg Jets and will be in the mix to suit up for Canada’s National Junior team. Evan Sarthou is the 17-year-old back up. He is into his second WHL season and has played well in his appearances this year.
NHL DRAFT: Cole Ully (Dallas, 5th round, 131st overall in 2013), Ryan Rehill (New Jersey, 5th round, 131st overall in 2014).
INJURY REPORT: None. Man games lost due to injury – 13.
DID YOU KNOW… Mike Needham has been named the Blazers new Assistant Coach replacing Mark Ferner who left the team in September to join the Vernon Vipers as their GM/Head Coach… Terry Bangen and Chris Murray have been added to the staff as part-time Assistant Coaches… Don Hay is now back in 2nd in franchise history behind Ken Hitchcock (291) with 152 career regular season wins… Hay is 2nd all-time in WHL history behind Ken Hodge (742) with 617 regular season wins… Cole Ully is second in the WHL scoring race with 26 points in 16 games… 20-year-old Mike Winther was acquired in late September from the Calgary Hitmen… 20-year-old Logan McVeigh was picked up on waivers in October from Regina… Brady Gaudet and Logan McVeigh were selected by the Blazers in the first and second round of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft… 16-year-old forward Jake Kryski was acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders back in July 10, 2013 for former goaltender Cole Cheveldave… Collin Shirley and Matt Revel were both acquired last season in exchange for former players Tim Bozon and Jordan Thomson… Jermaine Loewen was born in Jamaica and has only been playing hockey for six years… Jake Kryski will miss the next two games as he is away with Canada – Team Red at the U-17 World Challenge in Sarnia, Ontario at October 31 – November 8… Matt Needham’s father Mike played for the Blazers from 1986-1990… Nick Chyzowski’s father Dave played for the Blazers from 1987-1990…