By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
It was the noted left-winger Thomas Alva Edison who is credited with saying that “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Jon Groenheyde may not have spent the summer in overalls and work boots, but he definitely put in a lot of work in preparation for his third WHL season with the Kamloops Blazers.
Work? He worked with a goaltending coach, a mental coach and a strength coach.
“I’ve been working really hard,” the 19-year-old from Surrey said Friday before hitting the ice for a training camp session at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre. “I feel good. I worked hard over the summer.”
Groenheyde is well aware of the opportunity facing him. He is the only veteran goaltender on the Blazers’ roster and it looks like he will be the starter when the season arrives.
“It’s a great opportunity for him,” head coach Guy Charron said. “We’re certainly not from the get-go going to believe that he can’t do it. He’ll be given the opportunity.
“I think he has the ability to do it.”
The fact that Groenheyde has been working with goaltending and strength coaches comes as no surprise; after all, most goaltenders do just that. But it says something that he realized the need to adjust his mental approach.
“I have to calm myself down on the ice and become more consistent,” offered the 6-foot-4, 201-pound Groenheyde.
At the same time, however, he doesn’t want to completely douse the fire in his belly.
“We worked a lot on that,” he said. “It was more on not losing the competitiveness and aggressiveness in my game. . . . More calming myself down and working on not engaging in things that aren’t necessary.”
In the not-so-distant past, opposing teams have been able to get the excitable Groenheyde off his game just by treating the crease like Notre Dame and Columbia at 5:30 p.m.
“Little pokes after the whistle . . . . it’s not necessary (that I get involved),” he continued. “I realized that over the summer and we worked a lot on that.”
The plan, then, is for Groenheyde to take that energy and redirect it toward stopping the puck.
Last season, while playing behind Justin Leclerc and then Kurtis Mucha, both 20-year-olds, Groenheyde went 10-14-1-1 with a 3.79 GAA and a .896 save percentage. He got into 31 games, starting 26 and finishing 22 of those.
In 2008-09, while backing up Leclerc, Groenheyde was 4-11-0-1 with a 4.66 GAA and a .873 save percentage. Three of the victories came during a stretch from Dec. 29 to Jan. 7 when he started four of five games and went 3-1-0-0. However, he made only six more appearances after Jan. 7.
“I honestly don’t know,” Groenheyde said when asked why then-head coach Barry Smith all but ignored him for the season’s last 10 weeks. “I guess it’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“Justin was an older guy at the time. Maybe they wanted to give him a chance to get in a groove. Maybe he wasn’t playing the way he should be and they wanted to get him back in a groove for playoffs.
“Now that I’m older I hope I get the same respect if things aren’t going my way . . . to get more of a chance to get back in a groove.”
The way Charron has it figured, Groenheyde is going to get that chance.
“This is an opportunity for him to be an important part of the goaltending,” Charron said. “Whether we want to use the expression No. 1 or not . . . but the guy we can lean on. He has that chance.
“We can’t take that away from him until he takes it away from himself.”
CAMP NOTES: The Blazers got through Day 1 of camp without any injuries to report. . . . In the first rookie scrimmage last night, Team Blue got two goals from F Cole Ully of Calgary in beating Team White, 5-2. In the second game, F Chase Souto of Yorba Linda, Calif., scored twice to help Team Orange beat Team Black, 5-4. F Evan Ingram of Olds, Alta., had two goals for the losers. All the scorers and goaltenders are in Scoreboard. . . . Tim O’Donovan, the Blazers’ media man, reports that rookie camp features 72 players, 45 of them from B.C. Also represented are Saskatchewan (11), Alberta (10), U.S. (4) and Manitoba (2). . . . There are 29 players in the main camp bunch, represented by B.C. (11), Alberta (6), Saskatchewan (6), U.S. (3), Germany (1), Manitoba (1) and Slovakia (1). . . . G Troy Trombley, 16, checked into camp at 6-foot-6 and 187 pounds. Trombley, who has signed, and Taran Kozun, 16, of Nipawin, Sask., are vying for the backup spot behind Groenheyde. . . . Trombley is the tallest player in camp. D Haden Hoover, a 15-year-old from Kamloops, is 6-foot-4. Groenheyde, F Dalibor Bortnak and D Corey Fienhage measured out at 6-foot-4. . . . The heaviest player? That honour goes to Fienhage, at 220 pounds. . . . Former Blazers head coach Ken Hitchcock, now in a consulting role with Columbus after being fired by the Blue Jackets last season, is expected to spend Sunday and Monday in camp with the Vancouver Giants. Of course, he and Giants head coach Don Hay are long-time friends. . . . Former NHL D Murray Baron was one of the guest coaches helping out the Blazers on Friday.
Team Blue, 5, Team White 2 — Blue: F Cole Ully (Calgary) 2, F Kody Disher (Prince George), F Shawn McBride (Victoria), F Jordan Levesque (Nanaimo). Goal: Scott Lapp (Surrey), 16-16, Brandon Painter (Port Coquitlam), 10-8. White: F Logan McVeigh (Kenaston, Sask.), F Johnny Franklin (Hollyburn). Goal: Ty Hamer-Jackson (Kamloops), 9-7, Braden Krogfoss (Cloverdale), 18-15.
Team Orange 5, Team Black 4 — Orange: F Chase Souto (Yorba Linda, Calif.) 2, F Diego Cuglietta (Kamloops), F Jonathan Zdan (Lethbridge), F Landon Cross (Brandon). Goal: Blake Alexander (Lethbridge), 13-12, Nathan Warren (Prince George, 18-15). Black: F Evan Ingram (Olds, Alta.) 2, F Connor Bebb (Dallas, Texas), F Colton Dow (Humboldt, Sask.). Goal: Brok Terrill (Moosomin, Sask.), 13-10, Devon Pearson (Vernon), 17-14.
Rookie games, 9 a.m., noon, 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. Rookie goalies, 11 a.m. Main camp practices, 2:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m. All at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.
Practices 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon, 5 p.m. Scrimmage at 7 p.m. All at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.