By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers are poised to announce this morning that they will play a February home game in an arena that is a 2,164-kilometre drive from the Interior Savings Centre.
The Daily News learned Tuesday afternoon that the WHL and the Blazers will announce today that Kamloops and the Vancouver Giants will play in Whitehorse on Feb. 12. The game will be televised on CBC as part of the 11th annual edition of Hockey Day In Canada.
The Blazers and Giants had been scheduled to play that night in the Interior Savings Centre. That was to have been the Giants’ fourth and final visit of the season to Kamloops.
The Feb. 12 game will be featured on CBC. The day’s schedule also is to include three NHL games — the Ottawa Senators at the Edmonton Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Montreal Canadiens, and the Calgary Flames at the Vancouver Canucks.
Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, regulars on Hockey Night in Canada’s Saturday NHL telecasts, will co-host the more than 13 hours of TV coverage that is planned from Whitehorse.
The last time Hockey Day In Canada was held in the north was 2003 when Iqaluit, Nunavut, was the host community.
Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, has a population of 26,418 and has played host to a number of prominent events, including the 2007 Canada Summer Games and the 2008 junior men’s world fastball championship.
The WHL has never played games in Whitehorse, but the Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes played two exhibition games in Yellowknife, NWT, on Sept. 16 and 17, 2005.
The Creston ThunderCats and Fernie Ghostriders of the junior B Kootenay International junior league played two games in Whitehorse last season on Jan. 19 and 20.
While the Blazers were making plans for that announcement, their 2010 training camp was wrapping up with the annual Blue-White game at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.
This marked the end of head coach Guy Charron’s first training camp with the Blazers and he hasn’t been at all disappointed with what he has seen.
“I think it’s very encouraging,” Charron said. “I’m not disappointed at this point. From the first day, when the kids showed up for testing, there was some enthusiasm. The testing shows that the majority of them were committed to some fitness over the summer.
“The on-ice sessions have gone as well as I expected. I see some leadership developing within the team.”
Charron, who took over as the Blazers’ head coach on Nov. 23, is a practice coach and has especially enjoyed working with the younger players who were in camp.
“I believe we have great, young prospects,” he said. “People in Kamloops are going to get an opportunity to see some really good hockey players now and in the future.”
With training camp over, the Blazers will settle into a routine of practices, broken up by six exhibition games, as they prepare for the regular season.
“That is something I put a lot of emphasis on,” Charron said of practices. “This is where the kids get to learn. This is my time.
“I want them to focus. I want them to work hard. I’m a big believer that you play like you practise. If we practise hard, there’s a good chance we’re going to perform the same way. If we don’t, we can expect good and bad performances.”
The Blazers are to play their first exhibition game on Friday against the Chilliwack Bruins in Chase. Charron said there are a few things he and his staff are working towards.
“There are certain things that we’re trying to do a little bit different than last season,” he explained. “With the defence we have, I believe we can be a bit more involved on the attack. In saying that, I don’t want our team to totally concentrate on offence and not be a good defensive team.”
The Blazers went into last night’s game with 41 players on their roster, and were down to 29 shortly afterwards as they reassigned a number of prospects, including seven 1995-born players. Charron said that it’s too early to be judging whether any veteran players are on the bubble.
“There are players I haven’t been totally pleased with in training camp and, all of a sudden, tonight they’re putting points on the board,” he said. “To me, playing exhibition games will give an indication of which players are willing to pay the price to play for the Kamloops Blazers.”
Team Blue erased a 7-5 third-period deficit and beat Team White 10-8 in the intrasquad game.
Forward Rhyse Dieno, who was scoreless in 16 games last season, scored four times, including twice in the third period. Forward Mike Needham, the Blazers’ first pick in the 2010 bantam draft, also had two third-period goals, and he set up another.
Defencemen Austin Madaisky, Brady Gaudet and Josh Caron, along with forward Dylan Willick, also scored for the winners.
Defenceman Corey Fienhage and forward Brendan Ranford each had two goals and an assist for Team White, which also got goals from forwards Chase Souto, Jordan DePape, Cole Ully and Jake Trask.
JUST NOTES: After playing in Chase on Friday — game time is 7 p.m. — the Blazers and Bruins are to do it all over again Saturday in Mission. . . . Major Dave Andersen, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) arrived in town last night. He works with Boot Camp Hockey and spent a few days working with the Blazers a year ago. He’ll be here through Saturday, then the Blazers will spend Sunday doing some team-building work near Revelstoke.
TRAINING CAMP ROSTER
(as of Wednesday, Sept. 1)
(Year of birth in parentheses)
(x — denotes veteran)
x-Jon Groenheyde (91), South Surrey; Taran Kozun (94), Nipawin, Sask.; Troy Trombley (94), Sherwood Park, Alta.
x-Josh Caron (91), Campbell River; Landon Cross (94), Brandon; Corey Fienhage (90), Apple Valley, Minn.; Brady Gaudet (94), Redvers, Sask.; x-Tyler Hansen (93), Magrath, Alta.; x-Austin Madaisky (92), Surrey; x-Bronson Maschmeyer (91), Bruderheim, Alta.; Max Mowat (93), Coldstream; x-Linden Saip (91), Delta; x-Brandon Underwood (92), Carlsbad, Calif.
x-JT Barnett (92), Scottsdale, Ariz.; x-Dalibor Bortnak (91), Presov, Slovakia; x-Jordan DePape (92), Winnipeg; x-Rhyse Dieno (93), Saskatoon; x-Ryan Hanes (92), Kamloops; Bernhard Keil (92), Amberg, Germany; x-JC Lipon (93), Regina; Lyndon Martell (93), Prince George; Logan McVeigh (94), Kenaston, Sask.; x-Brendan Ranford (92), Edmonton; x-Chase Schaber (91), Red Deer; x-Colin Smith (93), Edmonton; Chase Souto (94), Yorba Linda, Calif.; Aspen Sterzer (94), Canal Flats; x-Jake Trask (91), Saskatoon; x-Dylan Willick, (92), Prince George.