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Blazers prepping to face struggling Giants

Hay says international coaching days behind him
By Gregg Drinnan
November 11, 2015 9:45 P.M.

Fans of the Kamloops Blazers will have to wait until Sunday to get their next look at forwards Collin Shirley and Deven Sideroff after their two-game stint with Team WHL.
Shirley and Sideroff were injury additions and played key roles as Team WHL beat a touring Russian side 7-3 in Kelowna on Monday and 4-2 at the Sandman Centre on Tuesday.
Shirley finished with a WHL-record five points, including four assists, in the two games, while Sideroff scored his club’s second goal on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how Shirley, 19, and Sideroff, 18, play on Sunday when the Blazers meet the visiting Prince George Cougars. Before then, though, the Blazers will visit Vancouver for a Friday date with the Giants, who have lost nine in a row (7-0-2).
Kamloops head coach Don Hay, for one, is expecting big things from his two forwards.
“We lean on them a lot,” Hay said. Then, noting how well they both played in the two games, he added: “They have to keep that level up. That’s the biggest thing. You do it once and you want to do it again and you want to do it again. You want to continue being a top player.”
Hay expects both to continue to play well because of “the confidence level that they go back with.”
Shirley goes into the weekend with 16 points, including a team-high 10 goals, in 16 games.
Sideroff, who missed the season’s first nine games as he recovered from mononucleosis, has a goal and four assists in seven games.
Without getting into specifics, Sideroff said he learned “a lot of things” during his stint with Team WHL.
He said he learned about “even my own play,” adding that he also learned “a lot of things from the guys around me, and leadership in the room, too. I learned a lot of things from the older guys.”
Team WHL head coach Dave Lowry, who also is the head coach of the Victoria Royals and Canada’s national junior team, admitted that one of the reasons Shirley and Sideroff were late additions was that he is familiar with both players.
“The big thing is that it was fortunate for them that they played Victoria a number of times already,” Lowry said.
As for their performances, Lowry said it was a case of injuries creating opportunities and “it’s about not only getting the opportunities but taking advantage of them. Those guys did a really good job.”
Hay worked alongside Lowry as a Team WHL assistant coach.
Hay, 61, is hardly a stranger to international competition, having been the national junior team’s head coach for the 1995 and 2012 World Junior Championships.
So he was asked: “Did you get the urge to be the head coach again while you were with Team WHL?”
A chuckling Hay was quick to respond: “No. No. No. Dave is going to do a great job. Those days are over.” Lowry is 50.
Under Hay, Canada won gold in Red Deer in 1995 and bronze in 2012 when the tournament was shared by Calgary and Edmonton.
JUST NOTES: Game time on Sunday will be 6 p.m. . . . This is one of only three Sunday home games on the schedule. . . . The Blazers will have D Nolan Kneen, 16, back for Friday’s game. He missed five games while at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . The Giants lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday. While they have struggled, the Blazers have eight victories in their last 10 games. After opening 0-6-0, the Blazers are 8-8-0.
The number of representatives the Blazers have had play in the Canada Russia Series now is at 10. Shirley and Sideroff are the ninth and 10th Blazers to take part. . . . They join F JC Lipon and F Colin Smith, who both played in 2011, F Cole Ully (2014), D Austin Madaisky (2010), F Brendan Ranford (2010), F Chase Schaber (2010), D Keaton Ellerby (2006) and F Brock Nixon (2006). . . . Apologies to Lipon, Ranford, Smith and Ully, who were omitted from an earlier list.
There’s more WHL news with Taking Note at While you’re there, don’t forget to get your free copy of A Coaching Life, an eBook that features eight prominent coaches, including the Blazers’ Don Hay and former Blazers F Ryan Huska, who how is the head coach of the Stockton Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

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