Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blazers go to Germany for forward

By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
There was a run on German players early in the 2010 CHL import draft on Tuesday and the Kamloops Blazers were right in the middle of it.
The Blazers held the 22nd selection and used it to take left-winger Bernhard Keil, an 18-year-old from Amberg, who put up 76 points, including 26 goals, in 34 games with Jungadler Mannheim, a junior team, last season. Keil also had 119 penalty minutes.
He was one of four players off the German U-18 team to be among the first 22 selections.
“We thought the size and the position fit what we were looking for,” explained Craig Bonner, the Blazers’ general manager.
Keil also played for Germany at the 2010 IIHF Division I, Group B U-18 world championship in Krynica, Poland. He had 11 points, including four goals, in five games, to finish tied for third in the points derby. Germany won the tournament, going 5-0 and outscoring its opposition 51-2.
The 6-foot-0, 200-pound Keil was eligible for last weekend’s NHL draft but wasn’t selected, despite being NHL Central Scouting’s 62nd ranked European skater.
“I’m not sure what happened (with the draft),” Bonner said. “He’s a big forward who has always put up good numbers. I really felt we needed some size up front. From what I understand, he speaks very good English, which is a plus.”
Bonner’s connection to Keil came through agent Rollie Thompson, whose group also represents German forward Tom Kuhnhackl, who was selected by Windsor in 2009 and will join the Memorial Cup-champion Spitfires in the fall.
Bonner also was able to speak with Ron Chyzowski, the older brother of former Blazers star Dave Chyzowski, who is the WHL team’s director of sales and marketing. Ron Chyzowski has coached in Germany for a number of years.
“He coached (Keil),” Bonner said, “so we were able to get a coach’s point of view, which was nice. You don’t get that very often . . . from a Canadian, too.”
The OHL’s Belleville Bulls took right-winger Tobias Rieder of Landshut with the fifth overall pick, and the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigers, with the next selection, grabbed centre Mirko Hoefflin of the Mannheim juniors. Then, with the 16th pick, which had been acquired from the Prince Albert Raiders, the Seattle Thunderbirds grabbed Marcel Noebels from the Krefeld Penguins.
Keil, Rieder, Hoefflin and Noebels were teammates on the German U-18 team. Noebels put up 19 points, while Hoefflin had 11 and Rieder six. Kuhnackl, the son of former German great Erich Kuhnackl, also was on that team, and had six points.
Centre Dalibor Bortnak of Slovakia will be the Blazers’ second import player. He will be returning for a third season here.
The Prince George Cougars had the first selection in the import draft and took Slovakian D Martin Marincin, who goes 6-foot-4 and 187 pounds. Marincin, 18, was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round, 46th overall, of the 2010 NHL draft.
JUST NOTES: The complete import draft is available at www.chl.ca. . . . Keil is the second German to be selected by the Blazers in the import draft. In 1996, they took F Nils Antons with the 68th pick. He played 82 games over two seasons and had 16 points, including seven goals. . . . Bonner said he took a serious look at available goaltenders but didn’t see a good fit. “To justify bringing in a goalie, he had to be pretty high end and there just wasn’t a guy,” Bonner said. The first goaltender taken was David Honzik of Czech Republic. He went to the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar at No. 33. In total, six goaltenders were selected. . . . The CHL’s 60 teams combined to take 71 players. The drafted last 10 hours 50 minutes. . . . Bonner, Matt Recchi, the Blazers’ director of player personnel, and head coach Guy Charron will be in Penticton this weekend at Hockey B.C.’s U-16 camp. The Blazers have three prospects — F Matt Needham of Penticton, D Tyson Harvey of Nanaimo and D Josh Connolly of Prince George — taking part. All three were taken in the first three rounds of the 2010 bantam draft. . . . The Spokane Chiefs will introduce Don Nachbaur as their new head coach at a news conference this afternoon.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
gdrinnan.blogspot.com

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