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NIEDERREITER AND BARTSCHI INSPIRE BOZON

Kelowna, B.C. — Tim Bozon was already well aware of the Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects game before he decided to come over from Switzerland to play for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.  After all, he saw what two of his countrymen accomplished in the game over the two previous editions of the event.

“Oh yeah, for sure, because of Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartsch,” said the 17-year-old from Lugano, SUI, when quizzed on his knowledge of the Top Prospects event.

“I saw Niederreiter made a pretty good move a couple of years ago, and showed some good hands and made a great shot, so everyone in Switzerland was talking about it,” he said.

What Bozon saw was Niederreiter, then of the Portland Winterhawks, score a remarkable one-handed goal in the Show-Down Breakaway event of the 2010 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects skills competition.  Niederreiter went on to be selected fifth overall by the New York Islanders in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and currently plays in the NHL with the Isles.

Fellow Swiss product Sven Bartschi, who currently plays for the Winterhawks, played in the 2011 event, scoring a goal and setting up another for Team Orr.  He went 13th overall to the Calgary Flames in the 2011 NHL draft.

Now, it’s Bozon’s turn to turn heads at the 2012 Prospects Game.  Like Niederreiter and Bartschi before him, Bozon will take part in the breakaway contest.  Though he may not try and emulate Niederreiter’s one-handed goal, Bozon plans to make the most of his experience at the prestigious gathering of the top NHL draft-eligible players in the Canadian Hockey League.

“I want to play simple, like the way I play in Kamloops,” said Bozon on what he wants to accomplish in Wednesday’s Top Prospects game.  “I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I want to just play the way I can and hopefully make some good impressions on the people watching.”

No doubt, the 6’1”, 178-lb winger has already made a big impression on NHL scouts with his fine performance for the Blazers this season.  Bozon has suited up in 50 games for the Blazers this season, and is currently tied for the team lead with 26 goals while helping the team to the best record in the WHL.

Having talked with Bartschi and Niederreiter over the last couple of year, Bozon learned a lot about life in North America and the quality of hockey played in the WHL.  He knew the WHL was where he needed to be to further his dream of reaching the NHL.

“We talked about the WHL and what they thought about playing over here,” said Bozon, who played for Logano’s Under-17 and Under-20 sides last year before the Blazers selected him 27th overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft.

“I feel like I’m living a dream right now because I’m playing for the best team in the Western Hockey League and I get to see how crazy the fans are for hockey over here,” he said.  “I’m very proud to be a member of the Kamloops Blazers right now.”

Getting the chance to play in the Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects game like his countrymen Niederreiter and Bartschi before him is simply icing on the cake to what has already been an amazing WHL experience for Bozon.

“It’s very exciting to be here, and to get this opportunity,” he said.

The 2012 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game is set for Wednesday night at Prospera Place (7:00pm PT; Sportsnet).

Follow all the action at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects game at homehardwaretopprospectsgame.com

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