By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Chase Schaber got his first taste of the life of a professional hockey player this month.
And now he wants to bring that kind of dedication and professionalism into the dressing room of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.
Schaber, a 19-year-old centre from Red Deer, has been named the Blazers’ captain, so he will be wearing the ‘C’ when he and his teammates open the regular season tonight against the visiting Prince George Cougars. Game time at Interior Savings Centre is 7 o’clock.
“It’s a great honour to be looked upon as the captain from my teammates and the coaching staff and the organization,” said Schaber, who was selected as captain through a vote of his teammates, with some input from the coaching staff. “I’m going to fill the role the way it’s supposed to be played. I’m going to be there for anyone who needs help and I’m going to set an example.
“But obviously I’m not just the one guy; I’m not the head honcho. The team has a say in everything. We’re all a family. As the captain, you just reinforce that.”
As the captain, Schaber will provide a liaison, when needed, between his teammates and the coaching staff, especially head coach Guy Charron.
“Guy is a great guy, a good friend,” Schaber said. “I learned so much from Guy and from the coaching staff. I’m just thankful for that. This is the best coaching staff I’ve been with and maybe ever will be with.
“I’m just very honoured and very thankful to be in this position.”
Schaber, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen in January, accepted a free-agent tryout deal from the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. He was with the Oilers team at a prospects tournament in Penticton and then headed for Edmonton and a few days of main camp.
“Edmonton went really well,” Schaber said. “It was a fun experience and the best hockey I’ve played in my career. Skating with the pros and seeing how they operate and seeing how they treat their jobs . . . that’s why they’re at that level. It was just an unbelievable experience to play with them.”
Schaber also noticed the dedication and mental toughness involved in being a pro hockey player.
“They’re pros at what they do,” he said. “They come to the rink and it’s their job. If you don’t show up to your job and do what you’re supposed to do, you’re fired.”
Having witnessed the way NHLers handle themselves, Schaber now wants to bring that attitude and the importance of preparation into the Kamloops dressing room.
“Absolutely,“ he says. “Every time you step on the ice it’s 110 per cent, no matter what you’re doing . . . off the ice or on the ice.
“Paying attention to details is the biggest thing at the pro level. One thing breaks down and the other team is going to pick up on that and they’re going to take advantage.
“I’m going to bring that back here. I’m sure all the other guys who went to pro camp are going to bring it back here . . . and bring up the level of play of everyone on the team.”
While Schaber is the captain, defencemen Bronson Maschmeyer, 19, and Corey Fienhage, 20, are the alternates. As well, forward Jordan DePape, 18, and defenceman Austin Madaisky, 18, will share an ‘A’ -- DePape will wear it on the road, Madaisky at home.
Interestingly, all four of the players were acquired in trades — Schaber and Madaisky from Calgary, Maschmeyer from the Vancouver Giants and DePape from the Brandon Wheat Kings — while Fienhage joined the Blazers from the U of North Dakota.
Fienhage is the only player on the Blazers’ roster who isn’t in camp. He remains with the Buffalo Sabres, who selected him in the third round of the 2008 NHL draft. Because he was drafted after a season with the USHL’s Indiana Ice, he is eligible, should he sign with Buffalo, to play in the AHL. However, because he has played only a total of 51 games over the last three seasons, the Sabres are expected to return him to the Blazers. He is expected back in town on Sunday.
Should that scenario unfold, he would make his debut with the Blazers on Oct. 1 against the Silvertips in Everett.
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