When the Kamloops Blazers board the bus and head to Vancouver on Friday for a date that evening with the Giants, goaltender Connor Ingram will be wearing the same jacket that he wore on Monday.
Oh, and he’ll be wearing the same socks, too.
“Socks are a big one in my routine,” he said with a chuckle, after backstopping the Blazers to a 3-2 victory over the
visiting Calgary Hitmen on Monday, a victory that snapped a four-game losing skid.
Yes, routine and superstition are a big part of the 18-year-old sophomore’s game days. Of course, he’s a goaltender. Right?
But most games in Ingram’s season begin in the evening. So what to do when the Blazers are scheduled to play an afternoon game?
Ingram’s routine for an evening game goes something like this: Wake up. Cereal. Rink. Home. Light lunch. Sleep. Up at 3 or 3:30. Meal at 4. Rink.
After beating the Hitmen, Ingram said: “I felt great coming to the rink today. I don’t know what it is but I think I like these earlier games. I don’t know if it was the sleep-in I got this morning or the breakfast I had, or what.”
With the Blazers preparing to play their fifth game in seven days, Ingram admitted to having slept until 10 a.m.
He had Frosted Flakes, and then ate again — Deanna Chala, his billet mom, prepared ribs and rice — at 11 a.m. “It was fantastic,” Ingram said, leaving the impression that he might be having that as a pre-game meal again before the season ends.
With the Blazers having lost their previous four games — they were 1-7-1 in the last nine — Ingram admitted to “trying all kinds of things.”
So, he “made myself a coffee today . . . that may have been different. I wore a new jacket.”
Come Friday, he said, the jacket and socks are musts. He wasn’t sure about the coffee.
If you were watching Ingram as Monday’s game ended, you will have seen him raise both arms in the air and pump them twice in a seldom seen show of emotion. That, he said, originated in a conversation with Mike Chala, his billet dad.
“I was talking to my billet the other day and he said I never show emotion when we win a game,” Ingram said with a chuckle. “It feels good.”
After playing Friday, the Blazers and Giants will turn around and head for Kamloops where they will meet again Saturday.
The Blazers (24-22-8) have 18 regular-season games remaining; the Giants (21-28-6) have 17 left. They will play each other five more times before completing the eight-game season series. To date, two of the three games have gone to OT — the Giants won both, 4-3, one there and one here — and the Blazers posted a 2-1 victory in Vancouver on Nov. 6.
Going into Wednesday’s games, the Blazers held down the 10-team Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, by two points over the Portland Winterhawks (26-25-2) and by five over the Tri-City Americans (24-25-3).
The Winterhawks played the host Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday, while the Americans were in Cranbrook, B.C., meeting the Kootenay Ice.
JUST NOTES: Ingram has been the starter in 45 of the Blazers’ 54 games this season. . . . According to the WHL’s weekly roster report, the Blazers took D Ryan Rehill off the injury list on Monday. Rehill, 20, missed seven games with an undisclosed injury. The Blazers were 2-4-1 without him. He practised on Tuesday and is expected to play Friday in Vancouver. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who suffered a right knee injury on Monday, is day-to-day. He wasn’t on the ice Tuesday and isn’t expected to play on the weekend.