By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The plan had been for Josh Thorimbert to be one of the Kamloops Blazers’ two goaltenders on opening night.
Instead, that spot will be filled by Jeff Bosch, who just happens to be tight with Thorimbert.
The Blazers acquired Bosch, 20, from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft.
Bosch is from Martensville, which is just outside of Saskatoon; Thorimbert is from Saskatoon. The two of them have known each other for a while and have trained together.
The Blazers had expected Thorimbert, an 18-year-old third-round pick in the 2007 bantam draft who was the SJHL’s rookie of the year last season with the Kindersley Klippers, to come in and challenge Jon Groenheyde, 19, for the starter’s role. Instead, Thorimbert opted for the Colorado College Tigers, an NCAA Division I team.
“It’s funny how it worked out,” Bosch said. “That spot was to go to Josh and now I end up coming there.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bosch was a third-round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2005 bantam draft. He cracked Regina’s roster three years ago, then was dealt to the Warriors early in 2008-09.
Last season, he was a workhorse in Moose Jaw, playing in 52 games. He went 24-19-6 with a 3.18 GAA and a .903 save percentage. He also tied the franchise’s single-season shutout record, with six. In his career, he has played in 122 games, with a 3.65 GAA, a .886 save percentage and eight shutouts.
A sprained left ankle, suffered when he caught an edge two weeks ago in practice, has kept Bosch from participating in recent full practices, although he did some light skating Wednesday and Thursday.
He described it as a “run-of-the-mill” sprain, as opposed to a high sprain, and said it’s just been “slow to heal.”
Kamloops general manager Craig Bonner said he had Bosch’s health checked out and expects him on the ice early next week.
Bonner said a lack of depth at the goaltending position forced the move.
“It’s good for us,” he said. “I feel confident we’re pretty deep at all the other positions; we just obviously weren’t very deep at goaltending. Now we are.”
Bosch knew something was going on when he learned late Thursday night that the Warriors had acquired Thomas Heemskerk, who also is a 20-year-old goaltender, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for defenceman Chad Suer, 20. The Warriors weren’t about to keep two 20-year-old goaltenders so Bosch knew it was time to pack his bags.
“I’m just glad to find out where I’m going . . . and I’m excited to be coming to Kamloops,” he said.
Bosch planned to start driving this way today. If things go according to plan, he’ll get here Sunday and be at practice Monday.
Groenheyde is into his third season here and has been solid.
“I spoke to Jon this morning,” Bonner said. “He’s had a great camp. His attitude has been great. We need depth and we need some competition there. So it’ll be up to Jon as to how he responds. We’ve got two good guys now and we’ll see what happens.”
Troy Trombley, a 16-year-old from Sherwood Park, is the other goaltender on the Blazers’ roster. He is expected to be reassigned next week. Trombley, 6-foot-6 and 187 pounds, needs to be some place where he will play a lot.
It is the second season in a row in which the Blazers have dealt for a 20-year-old goaltender. In November, they released Justin Leclerc, who was 20 and was in his third season here, and acquired Kurtis Mucha, another 20-year-old, from the Portland Winterhawks.
The deal for Bosch leaves Kamloops with two 20-year-olds on its roster, the other being defenceman Corey Fienhage, who is in camp with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Each WHL team is allowed to have three 20-year-olds on its roster.
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