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Blazers living on EDGE in Vancouver

McNulty, Benjafield set to return
By Gregg Drinnan
September 9, 2015 6:39 P.M.

In the NFL, the final week of exhibition games, with coaches reluctant to play their starters in case of injuries, is a great time for young players to make one final impression.
In the WHL, that time is now.
With NHL teams opening training camps this week, the WHL will have at least 126 players skating with professionals.
That means some WHL teams will struggle to ice representative lineups for the next couple of weeks, or until players begin to trickle back from NHL camps. What better time for newcomers to make their mark?
The Kamloops Blazers, meanwhile, hope to welcome back two veteran players when they meet the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Friday night, 7 o’clock, at the Sandman Centre.
D Marc McNulty, 20, has yet to play because of a hairline fracture to a foot that he suffered over the summer. A sixth-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2013 bantam draft, the Blazers acquired McNulty last season from the Prince George Cougars. The Red Wings chose not to sign McNulty, so he is an NHL free agent, meaning this season is awfully important to him.
Like McNulty, F Quinn Benjafield, 17, has yet to play after undergoing an appendectomy in mid-August. He was the 19th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft. Last season, as a freshman, he put up 12 points in 53 games; the Blazers, who missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons, are looking for a breakout season from the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder.
Kamloops head coach Don Hay indicated Wednesday that he expects both McNulty and Benjafield to play on Friday night.
Hay and his staff worked with a skeleton crew at practice yesterday. In fact, Hay said he expected to have “about eight forwards” on hand.
Five forwards — veterans Matt Campese, Nick Chyzowski, Matt Revel, Collin Shirley and Jesse Zaharichuk — and D Cam Reagan were in Vancouver taking part in the annual Project EDGE. This is the 10th year in which the Blazers are involved in the program that involves players and Kamloops RCMP officers visiting Vancouver’s downtown eastside and the waterfront where they get a first-hand look at life there. The players later will visit Kamloops schools and relate their first-person experiences.
Campese isn’t expected to play Friday here or Saturday in Kelowna after banging up a shoulder in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars last Friday.
As well, the Blazers are losing three players to NHL camps — G Connor Ingram will be with Detroit as a free-agent invitee; D Ryan Rehill was a fifth-round pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 2013 draft; and F Deven Sideroff was taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round of the 2015 draft.
The Rockets, who won the WHL championship last season, will have 11 players who are eligible to return involved in NHL camps — F Tyson Baillie, Calgary Flames; D Madison Bowey, Washington Capitals; F Rourke Chartier, San Jose Sharks; F Justin Kirkland, Nashville Predators; F Cole Linaker, Edmonton Oilers; F Nick Merkley, Arizona Coyotes; D Josh Morrissey, Winnipeg Jets; F Tomas Soustal, Calgary; D Devante Stephens, Buffalo Sabres; and G Jackson Whistle, Vancouver Canucks.
A complete list of WHL players who are expected to attend NHL camps is right here.

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