ON THE ROAD: The Kamloops Blazers are into their 33rd season in the Western Hockey League and the 30th season as the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers have a 13-47-2-3 record through 65 games. The hockey club just completed a home heavy stretch as they played 14 of 16 games on home ice between January 11th and February 15th. The Blazers are on a stretch of 10 straight road games. The road trip has taken the Blazers to the USA and now to Alberta. It will finish off in Victoria next weekend. The Blazers started their road trip playing three games in three nights last weekend in Portland, Seattle and Spokane. They finished that stretch with a 1-2-0-0 record with the lone win coming in Seattle via the shootout. The Blazers lost in Red Deer on Wednesday night and in Calgary yesterday. This portion of the trip concludes tonight in Medicine Hat. The hockey club will return home for a few days before playing in Vancouver on March 5th and in Victoria March 7th and 8th to close out 10 straight games on the road. The Blazers home rink, the ISC, will be occupied with the Canadian Men’s Curling Championships from March 1st – March 9th.
Vs. Medicine Hat – Last Season (2-Game Series)
Game 1: 10/06/12, vs. Medicine Hat 1, Kamloops 4
Game 2: 12/15/12, at Medicine Hat 7, Kamloops 6 OT
Blazers were 1-0-1-0 in season series
Vs. Medicine Hat – This Season (3-Game Series)
Game 1: 11/13/13, vs. Medicine Hat 3, Kamloops 1
Game 2: 01/25/14, vs. Medicine Hat 4, Kamloops 0
Game 3: 03/01/14, at Medicine Hat, Kamloops
Blazers are 0-2-0-0 in season series
ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The Blazers roster currently sits at 25 players (3 goaltenders, 8 defensemen and 14 forwards). The roster includes 10 players selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, one player from the free agent list, 12 players via trade, and one player selected from the CHL Import Draft. The roster breakdown by region includes 10 from B.C., nine players from Alberta, two from Saskatchewan, two from Manitoba, one from Switzerland and one from the USA.
THE MATCH UP: The Blazers and Tigers play each other three times this season. The Tigers won the first meeting back in mid-November 3-1 in Kamloops. Last year, the Tigers and Blazers played twice and split the season series with both teams winning on home ice. These two teams will play one last time in Medicine Hat on March 1st.
KAMLOOPS BLAZERS ‘Who to Watch’: The Kamloops Blazers forwards have had to get the job done this year by committee. Cole Ully (29+37=66), Matt Needham (10+20=30) and Chase Souto (20+11=31) are guys in their third and fourth seasons that are the offensive leaders. The 18-year-old Ully is a 5th round draft pick by the Dallas Stars. Needham is the team captain at only 18, and Chase Souto is the longest tenured Blazer playing his 200th game November 23rd. The Blazers have lost the services of Tyson Ness (12+12=24) and Luke Harrison (4+0=4) for the season due to injuries. Trade deadline acquisitions Matt Bellerive (16+22=38) and Matt Revel (14+29 = 43) are two players that can contribute now and will also be impact players next season. Collin Shirley (13+12=25) was acquired in the Tim Bozon trade and has picked up his offensive totals in the second half. Joe Kornelsen, (9+9=18) and Carson Bolduc (5+6=11) make up the supporting cast for the Blazers as WHL veterans. There has been plenty of opportunity for the young forwards on the Blazers roster as Jesse Shynkaruk, (3+3=6) Eric Krienke, (2+4=6) and Nathan Looysen (1+7=8) are all 17-year-olds looking to prove themselves. They’ve improved as the season has carried on. Nick Chyzowski (2+7=9) is the lone 16-year-old on the roster and has been impressive at both ends of the ice. On defence, the Blazers have some young players taking on big roles this season. Sam Grist (2+13=15) is the oldest defenseman on the roster and has played a ton for the hockey club. Returnees Ryan Rehill (3+15=18) and Josh Connolly (11+33=44) have done nothing but impress as they have been thrust into impact roles this year. Connolly has had a great season after posting only one goal and six points in his first WHL season. Rehill is one of the tougher players in the WHL with 173 penalty minutes and is among the league leaders in fighting majors. Matt Thomas (0+2=2) is an 18-year-old defensive minded defenseman. Edson Harlacher (0+8=8) was selected by the Blazers in the import draft and has steadily improved playing in all situations for the Blazers. Connor Clouston (0+2=2) is getting a chance to play every night and is getting better. Austin Douglas (1+1=2) is a towering 6’6” defenseman that was acquired at the trade deadline from Seattle. In goal, the Blazers have 19-year-old Bolton Pouliot (7-24-0-1, 3.89, .889) and 18-year-old Justin Myles (11-6-0-0, 3.66, .889). Cole Kehler is up with the Blazers once again due to an injury to goaltender Justin Myles, who has yet to play a game with the Blazers.
MEDICINE HAT TIGERS ‘Who to Watch’: The Tigers are sitting comfortably in fourth place in the WHL’s Eastern Conference. The Tigers are a veteran laden team with scoring depth. Up front, 20-year-old Curtis Valk is leading the way with 38 goals and 77 points this year. The Tigers have lost Vancouver Canucks first round pick, Hunter Shinkaruk for the season to injury. Jacob Doty is another 20-year-old that adds size up front and was signed by the St. Louis Blues this year. Trevor Cox and Cole Sanford are a pair of 18-year-olds having breakout season with 71 and 63 points each. Miles Koules is a 19-year-old up front that has been consistent with 46 points. The Tigers have a large crop of 18-year-old forwards besides Sanford and Cox. Chad Labelle, Markus Eisenschmid, Anthony Ast and Gavin Broadhead all add depth to the line-up. At 17, the Tigers are getting contributions from Steven Owre, Chad Butcher and Blake Penner who are all into their second WHL seasons. Up front, the Tigers are spread out amongst the age groups and are getting contributions from all over. The defence is very similar with many returning veterans and some scoring from the backend. At 20, Dylan Bredo is a former center man who moved back to defence full-time midway through last season. He has 41 points in 65 games. Tyler Lewington and Kyle Becker are both 19 and into their third WHL seasons. They’ve recorded 35 and 24 points respectively. At 18, Tommy Vanelli is a rookie into his first season after leaving NCAA hockey. He is a second round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues and has had a great season with 40 points in 55 games. Ty Stanton and Matt Staples are both veterans with proven track records. Scott Allen is the other defender on the roster. In goal, Marek Langhamer is the go-to-guy. The 19-year-old draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes was in goal for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships. Nick Schneider is a 16-year-old acquired from Regina at the trade deadline. He has played 14 games this season.
NHL DRAFT: Cole Ully (Dallas, 5th round, 131st overall in 2013).
INJURY REPORT: Sam Grist, Upper Body, Indefinite, Luke Harrison, Upper Body, Indefinite, Tyson Ness, Upper Body, Indefinite, Justin Myles, Upper Body, Indefinite.Man games lost due to injury – 149.
DID YOU KNOW… Matt Revel was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on January 8th… Matt Bellerive was acquired from the Red Deer Rebels on January 9th… Collin Shirley and Matt Thomas were acquired from the Kootenay Ice on October 22nd… Connor Clouston is the son of current Medicine Hat Tigers GM/Head Coach Shaun Clouston and the nephew of current Prince Albert Raiders Head Coach Cory Clouston… Ryan Rehill was ranked #98 among North American skaters in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings… Nick Chyzowski won a Silver Medal with Team Pacific at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge… 18-year-old Matt Needham is the youngest captain since Ajay Baines was named team captain as an 18-year-old in 1996-97 season… Associate Coach Mark Ferner is entering his second stint with the Blazers after serving as an Assistant, Associate and Head Coach with the Blazers from 2002-2006… Matt Needham’s father Mike played for the Blazers from 1986-1990… Nick Chyzowski’s father Dave played for the Blazers from 1987-1990… Guy Charron took over as Head Coach of the hockey club on January 11…