By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Jon Groenheyde will be in goal for the Kamloops Blazers when they open the WHL’s regular season with a weekend doubleheader.
Head coach Guy Charron said Sunday that Groenheyde will start when the Prince George Cougars visit Interior Savings Centre on Friday night and again Saturday night here against the Chilliwack Bruins.
The 19-year-old Groenheyde, who played all but about 30 minutes of the Blazers’ six exhibition games, is in his third season with the Blazers. Last season, Groenheyde backed up Justin Leclerc for the home-opener; two seasons ago, the Blazers started Leclerc and had James Priestner on the bench.
“For sure, he’s earned it,” Charron said of Groenheyde getting the starting assignment. “Absolutely.”
Groenheyde came into training camp late in August as the No. 1 goaltender and hasn’t done anything to damage that standing. He ran his exhibition record to 4-1 on Saturday with his fifth complete game as the Blazers dropped the Cougars 6-2 in Prince George.
“We were up 6-1 and we gave up way too many chances in the third period,” Charron said. “Jon excelled in the third period. He played very well. We left him stranded for a while and he held the fort.”
Groenheyde finished with 33 saves, leaving him with a .913 save percentage for his six appearances.
Of course, the Blazers acquired Jeff Bosch, a 20-year-old goaltender, from the Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday. Eventually, he and Groenheyde will compete for playing time, but that won’t happen just yet.
“Bosch hasn’t played for almost two weeks,” Charron said, “so it wouldn’t make any sense to make it a competitive situation.”
Bosch suffered a sprained left ankle during a practice about two weeks ago and since then has skated lightly on only a couple of occasions. He was expected to arrive in Kamloops sometime Sunday and attend practice today.
“We feel confident that Jon can do the job,” Charron said. “He’ll probably have the weekend games and we’ll re-evaulate as we move along.”
The Blazers got down to two goaltenders after Saturday’s game by assigning Troy Trombley, 16, to the Alberta midget AAA ranks. The 6-foot-6, 187-pound Trombley, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a third-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft and has signed a WHL contract.
Meanwhile, the Blazers will spend this week practising and waiting. As of last night, they still had five players in NHL camps — defencemen Josh Caron (Minnesota Wild), Corey Fienhage (Buffalo Sabres) and Austin Madaisky (Columbus Blue Jackets), as well as forwards Brendan Ranford (Philadelphia Flyers) and Chase Schaber (Edmonton Oilers).
Charron said the team expects all five back at some point this week, but won’t count on any of them “until we get confirmation from NHL teams as to when our players are going to be back.
“We’re optimistic we’ll get somebody back this week.”
The Blazers have 25 players on their roster, including 15 forwards and eight defencemen, but won’t be making any moves until they know the status of those five players.
The Blazers gave centre Dalibor Bortnak the night off Saturday — he didn’t make the trip north — as a reward for being the fittest player when camp opened and for his fine play in the first five games.
“He sent me a text (Sunday) and said that it was kind of boring,” a chuckling Charron said. “But he had a good camp and deserved a day off.”
D Brandon Underwood left Saturday’s game after taking a hard hit from Prince George F Charles Inglis, who wasn’t penalized on the play.
Charron said Underwood “may have a concussion” and that the third-year defenceman “will be re-evaluated over the next couple of days.”
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