UPDATE: After their intrasquad game, the Kamloops Blazers trimmed their roster to 29 — 15 forwards, 11 defencemen and three goaltenders. . . . That number includes three 2015 draft picks who aren’t eligible to play full-time this season — F Jackson Shepherd, a second-round pick from West Vancouver, D Devan Harrison of Dysart, Sask., another second-rounder, and D Luke Zazula, a fourth-round pick from Langley, B.C., who signed a WHL contract on the weekend. All three are expected to see exhibition game action this weekend. . . . The roster also includes three injured players — D Marc McNulty (foot), F Quinn Benjafield (appendectomy) and D Conner McDonald (undisclosed). . . . F Tyler Ward of Kamloops, an 11th-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft, also was dropped from the roster. That leaves the Blazers with one player from Kamloops on their roster. That would be F Nick Chyzowski, who is heading into his third season. When the Blazers opened camp on Friday, there were 19 Kamloopsians on hand.
The Blazers' roster, showing each player's year of birth:
Forwards (15): Spencer Bast (97), Quinn Benjafield (98), Matthew Campese (97), Nick Chyzowski (97), Luke Harrison (95), Jake Kryski (98), Jermaine Loewen (98), Erik Miller (99), Matthew Needham (95), Garrett Pilon (98), Matt Revel (96), Jackson Shepard (00), Collin Shirley (96), Deven Sideroff (97), Jesse Zaharichuk (97)
Defencemen (11): Dawson Davidson (98), Devan Harrison (00), Nolan Kneen (99), Patrik Maier (96), Conner McDonald (99), Marc McNulty (95), Cameron Reagan (97), Ryan Rehill (95), Ondrej Vala (98), Travis Verveda (97), Luka Zazula (00)
Goaltenders (3): Dylan Ferguson (98), Connor Ingram (97), Cole Kehler (97).
As the Kamloops Blazers prepare for the start of the 2015-16 WHL season, followers are wanting to know from where the offence will emanate.
Sixteen of the WHL’s 22 teams scored more goals than the Blazers’ 218 last season. Of course, 17 teams allowed fewer goals than the 258 surrendered by the Blazers.
So it’s fair to say that improvement is needed at both ends of the ice if the Blazers are to make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
If Tuesday’s Blue-White intrasquad game — which might best be described as a round of shinny with little contact — can be used as any sort of barometer, though, fans of the Blazers can sleep well knowing the goaltending is in good hands.
There are three goaltenders left in camp and they rotated between the two teams last night as Team Blue beat Team White 5-0 before 561 fans at the Sandman Centre.
Sophomore Connor Ingram, who went into camp as the starter, hasn’t done anything to jeopardize that position. Last night, the 18-year-old from Imperial, Sask., looked in top form, stopping 20 of 21 shots in his two periods. He was terrific in the second period when he turned aside Team White’s Jermaine Loewen and Tyler Ward on breakaways.
Ingram stopped all 12 shots he faced that period, while his Team Blue teammates struck three times to take a 4-0 lead into the third period.
Cole Kehler, an 18-year-old from Altona, Man., started last season on even ground with Ingram, but the latter seized the starter’s role early in 2015 and skated away with it. He, too, had a solid night, turning aside 24 of 25 shots, including all 16 he faced in the first period.
Dylan Ferguson, a 17-year-old from Lantzville, B.C., was burned for three goals on 15 shots in the second period while playing for Team White. Freshman F Marty Westhaven of Victoria torched him after F Jackson Shephard had forced D Travis Verveda into a defensive zone turnover. Just 25 seconds later, veteran F Jesse Zaharichuk took a lead pass from Matt Revel and went to beat Ferguson on a deke. Finally, at 17:29, D Patrik Maier put a low shot off a post and over the line.
Ferguson, an eighth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft, atoned for that period by pitching a perfect third, stopping 21 shots for Team Blue, which got a fifth goal from veteran F Collin Shirley.
Veteran F Luke Harrison had scored Team Blue’s first goal at 1:41 of the first period, caroming a shot off Verveda’s stick and past Ingram.
JUST NOTES: Two veteran players — D Marc McNulty (foot) and F Quinn Benjafield (appendectomy) — were scratched from the intrasquad game, as was D Conner McDonald (undisclosed injury). McDonald, a freshman from Delta, B.C., was a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Two Team White forwards — veteran Matt Needham and freshman Hayden Dick — didn’t finish the first period. . . . After the third period, the teams played a five-minute 3-on-3 overtime period, which is how the WHL will handle tie games this season. After that, the teams had a shootout. . . . The first goal of OT came after just six seconds, with Team White F Garrett Pilon scoring on a 25-footer from the right side. . . . Of the 39 players dressed, six were born in 2000 and thus ineligible for full-time duty this season. Twelve other players were born in 1999. . . . The Blazers may have changed their logo, dropping the city’s name, but the music remains the same — the teams took the ice to Takin’ Care of Business. . . . The Blazers open their exhibition season on Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers’ home arena officially underwent its name change on Tuesday. What was the Interior Savings Centre for the past 10 years now is the Sandman Centre.