By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Tyler Forsythe knows he will be coaching a team in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in the fall. And he knows which team it will be, too.
Forsythe just doesn't know where that team will play.
Forsythe, 34, has been named head coach of the Thompson Blazers, who have played out of Kamloops. However, the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association, which plays host to the team, has yet to decide whether it will continue in that role.
“We're trying to secure a place to play,” Forsythe said. “There was talk earlier that Kamloops Minor Hockey no longer wanted to be the host association.”
Forsythe said Hockey B.C. and the KMHA have been talking “and in the next week there should be a determination where the team will play out of.”
Forsythe admitted that the Blazers “may move elsewhere . . . but nothing is concrete.”
Another option, he said, is “to not have a host association and Hockey B.C. would secure the ice themselves.”
Were that to happen, he said, “that could put them all through the region, or they may find a home. I'm not 100 per cent sure what's going to happen.”
The KMHA has long been concerned with the area from which the Blazers are allowed to draw players, feeling that minor hockey registration numbers are much smaller around here than in the area given to the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets.
No matter what happens, though, Forsythe said he will be the coach.
Forsythe is an Edmonton native who has been in these parts for the last three years. He applied to Hockey B.C., then went through the interview process before being selected to replace Greg Hermiston, who has been named head coach of B.C.'s team at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.
“The commitment for me for the Team B.C. . . . is substantial and there was just no way I could run both those programs,” Hermiston said.
In fact, Forsythe was going to be assistant coach under Hermiston, but ended up joining the BCHL's Merritt Centennials as general manager and assistant coach. Forsythe's brother, Dylan, signed on as head coach and assistant general manager.
That relationship ended on Dec. 8 when the board of directors for the non-profit society that was running the team chose to go in a different direction.
The Blazers, the 11-team league's second-youngest team, went 7-31-2 and wound up in the basement. They had the league's leakiest defence and only two teams scored fewer goals.
Ironically, the Vancouver-North West Giants were the youngest team and they won the league championship.
“The youngest team was the team that won,” Hermiston said. “The talent level coming out of (Vancouver) is pretty phenomenal.”
Forsythe said, however, that the Blazers “had a few things that were working against them. They were a fairly young team as they had no 17-year-olds at all.”
The league allowed each team to carry a maximum of seven 17-year-old players last season, which was up from five in previous seasons. That restriction was done away with after the season.
“If you have five guys who are 17 and they can be your top five guys, that's five goys you're probably missing,” Forsythe reasoned. “There is definitely the potential to move up. I watched the team play a few times last season and I know some of the players personally.”
Hockey players at this age are a lot like vagabonds and, because of that, Forsythe doesn't have much idea just what his finished roster will resemble as players attempt to move into the junior A, junior B or major junior ranks.
“It's still like anything else, it's a development league,” he said
The major midget teams will hold their open camps Aug. 6-8, with final rosters to be named by Sept. 15.
As Forsythe, who works in commercial construction when he's not around an arena somewhere, selects his team, he will be looking to put together a group that will be aggressive and willing to get on the forecheck.
“I like an aggressive style of play where you force the play . . . force the other team to make mistakes and you capitalize on those mistakes,” he explained. “That's a bit risk-reward but it's a lot more fun for the kids to play. They enjoy playing it more and it's way more entertaining.”
A game based on a heavy forecheck also means you should play more in the opposition's end. And, as Forsythe noted, “It's harder for them to score if they're not in your end.”
Now if Forsythe only knew in which arena his club will be unleashing that aggressive forecheck. . . .