By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Like a contractor building a home, Guy Charron, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, is working on the foundation.
Charron, in his first full season here, has watched his club split two exhibition games and isn’t at all disappointed.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Charron said Sunday night, 24 hours after his club had dropped a 6-3 decision to the Chilliwack Bruins in Mission. “Everyone is working hard.”
And that is what’s important at this stage of the season.
“We’re trying to build an identity — we’re going to be a tough team to play against,” Charron continued. “We’re going to play for 60 minutes. The players did that.”
The Blazers, who had beaten the Bruins 8-3 in Chase on Friday night, fell behind 3-1 after one period and 4-1 halfway through Saturday’s game.
“I told them after 20 minutes,” Charron said, “that we are trying to build an identity, and our identity is to work for 60 minutes not matter what the outcome is going to be. That’s what we’re trying to create.”
Charron gave the goaltending start to Troy Trombley, a 16-year-old freshman from Sherwood Park, Alta. Trombley was beaten three times on the first five shots he faced.
“When you have a 16-year-old goaltender, it’s very difficult,” Charron said. “The toughest position for a young player is goaltending and defence. Why? There’s no hiding. If you’re a 15- or 16-year old forward, your mistakes can be overlooked. But when you’re in goal . . .
“Still, (Trombley) deserved the opportunity to stay for half a game and I thought he battled through it.”
Veteran Jon Groenheyde came on midway through the second. Between the two of them, they stopped 21 shots.
At the same time, the Blazers unleashed a 38-shot attack. The Blazers held a 29-11 edge after two periods.
“Their goaltending kept them in the game,” Charron said of the Bruins’ tandem of Cole Holowenko and Braden Gamble. “We could have been more successful based on the first two periods. With the number of chances we had in the first two periods, I would have hoped we would capitalize more.
“(The Bruins) built momentum because they were leading after two periods. But, overall, I feel that team was lucky to beat us.”
The Blazers got a first-period goal from Bernhard Keil, with Chase Schaber scoring twice in the third.
“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Charron said of Keil, who scored twice in Friday’s victory. “He and (defenceman Corey) Fienhage are two players people will talk about as the season goes on. They are both great additions.”
The Blazers were given Sunday off, their first day off since training camp opened on Aug. 27. They spent Monday doing some team building at Skytrek Adventure Park between Sicamous and Revelstoke.
Today, it’s back on the ice.
Last season, the Blazers’ penalty killing was, to be kind, abysmal. On Saturday, they gave up three power-play goals. So Charron hopes to have two practice sessions today, a normal skate in the morning, with special teams work in the afternoon.
“We’re going to be faced with a lot of power-play and penalty-killing opportunities,” Charron stated. “Our penalty killing last season was not adequate so we need to practice it.”
JUST NOTES: The Bruins got three goals from Czech F Robin Soudek, a 19-year-old who played the last two seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Kamloops held an 87-60 edge in shots over the two games. . . . On Monday, the Blazers re-assigned F Aspen Sterzer, 16, who is from Canal Flats. He will play for the midget AAA EDGE Maroons in Calgary. . . . The Blazers, now carrying 27 players, next play Friday when the Kelowna Rockets, who swept two games with the Vancouver Giants on the weekend, visit the Interior Savings Centre.