By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Thompson Blazers have put Kamloops in their rearview mirror.
The Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has voted not to serve as the host for the B.C. major midget league team, which is scheduled to operate out of Chase in 2010-11.
Head coach Tyler Forsythe, who is taking over the program from Greg Hermiston, said Monday night that all home games and all practices will be held at the Art Holding Memorial Arena in Chase.
“Kamloops minor voted against being the host,” Forsythe said. “B.C. Hockey and I approached Chase about being the host and they were willing . . . and accepted us. So we'll move there. . . . It works pretty well.”
The Blazers are one of 11 teams in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, a league that was created by B.C. Hockey in order to provide 15- to 17-year-olds with a top-flight place in which to play. B.C. Hockey controls the franchises.
The KMHA has disputed the geographic area from which the team is allowed to draw and that is believed to have led to the vote not to play host to the team any longer.
Last season, the Blazers went 7-31-2 to finish in last place and out of the playoffs.
Hermiston resigned as head coach after being named head coach of the team that will represent B.C. at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax in February.
The Blazers' move to Chase will help fill a void in the community which lost its junior B team - the Chiefs - when owner Fred Pittendreigh up and moved the Kootenay International junior league team to Kelowna.
The KIJHL has since voted to put a franchise in Chase for the 2011-12 season. The impact of that on the Blazers hasn't been discussed.
“I think Chase thinks they can accommodate both teams,” Forsythe said, “especially with our schedule being two games at home on a weekend and then you go away for two games. They really can accommodate both.
“The juniors really like Friday nights and major midget does Saturday-Sunday.”
Forsythe especially likes the fact that the Blazers, who never had a home arena in Kamloops, now have a home base.
“They have a storage locker at one rink but that's all they had,” Forsythe said, with a chuckle.
“It will be a good environment for the team,” he added. “We'll get the dressing room that the Chase Chiefs had. We'll have a home base, and the team never had that before. It bounced from arena to arena, just like every other minor hockey team. This will give it more of a team atmosphere and a steady home.”
In preparation for a new season, the Blazers, like all BCMMHL teams, will hold an orientation camp Aug. 6-8. That camp will be held at the Ice Box Arena in Kamloops.
“That ice was already booked before all this happened,” Forsythe explained.
He also said that the team will retain its name - Thompson Blazers - and there definitely will be a Kamloops connection.
“There'll still be a majority of Kamloops boys . . . it will all work out well,” he said.