Friday, October 15, 2010

Blazers add grit to roster

By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Craig Bonner spent Thursday watching the WHL waiver wire.
Early in the afternoon, the general manager of the Kamloops Blazers finally saw a name that piqued his interest.
So left-winger Shayne Neigum, late of the Chilliwack Bruins, will be in the Blazers’ lineup tonight when they play host to the Portland Winterhawks. Game time at Interior Savings Centre is 7 o’clock.
Neigum, 20, got caught in the numbers game in Chilliwack. Each of the WHL’s 22 teams had to declare a maximum of three 20-year-old players yesterday. The Bruins chose to place Neigum on waivers, while keeping goaltender Lucas Gore, who is from Kamloops, and defencemen Jeff Einhorn and Brandon Manning.
“Neigum is a guy I looked at before,” Bonner said of the fourth-year WHLer from Kindersley, Sask. “Obviously, he wanted to stay in the WHL, so he’s excited.
“I felt we needed another competitive forward and he will provide that.”
The Blazers have met the Bruins twice this season, with Neigum playing in one of those games, a 5-2 Chilliwack victory here on Sept. 25. A fractious, in-your-face type of player, Neigum was far from beloved in the Blazers’ dressing room.
“Yeah, I know,” Neigum said with a laugh. “If I am liked, I’m not doing my job. Kamloops is a good rivarly. I’m sure there’ll be no hard feelings.
“I’m going to a good situation. I’m pretty familiar with them . . . we play them quite a bit. It’s tough leaving the guys and the staff behind, but it’s a good move for me.”
Neigum sounded relieved that the wait was over in Chilliwack. He admitted that it can be taxing.
“She’s been a seven-month wait, I guess, when you boil it down,” he said. “But it was a total roller-coaster ride. One day you play well and the next day you sit out, and you’re just not sure.”
Neigum was a fourth-round pick by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2005 bantam draft. He also has played with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Last season, with Chilliwack, he had 24 points and 189 penalty minutes in 72 games. This season, he is pointless, with 17 penalty minutes, in four games.
The Blazers and Bruins next are scheduled to meet on Jan. 7 at the ISC.
“That’s a big day,” Neigum said. “I already looked.”
Neigum, 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds, joins goaltender Jeff Bosch and defenceman Corey Fienhage as the Blazers’ 20-year-olds.
Meanwhile, Bonner also cut a deal yesterday as he acquired forward Jesse Sinatynski, 18, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a fifth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft.
“He put up big numbers in bantam and midget,” Bonner said. “He’s gritty, and hard-nosed . . . another competitive forward to add to our group.”
Sinatynski, a 13th-round pick in the 2007 bantam draft, had 10 points, including seven goals, and six penalty minutes in 27 games with Brandon last season. This season, he had two points and six penalty minutes in seven games. Two seasons ago, with the midget AAA team in Fort Saskatchewan, he put up 64 points, 31 of them goals, and 154 penalty minutes in 32 games.
Sinatynksi is expected to join the Blazers on the weekend so won’t play tonight or Saturday against the visiting Prince George Cougars.
The Blazers now are carrying 26 players, including two goaltenders and 16 forwards. That also includes defenceman Josh Caron, who is on long-term injury with a broken collarbone.
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The Blazers may have RW Jordan DePape (shoulder) back in the lineup tonight as he took part in a full practice Thursday. RW Chase Souto (concussion) remains sidelined.
Both were injured in a 6-1 loss to the Bruins in Chilliwack on Oct. 2. Neigum was a healthy scratch that night.
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A scoring change has been made to the Blazers’ fifth goal in their 5-4 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna on Wednesday.
Originally scored as an unassisted goal by D Bronson Maschmeyer, the goal has been awarded to RW JC Lipon, his first of the season, with assists to Maschmeyer and C Dalibor Bortnak.
Lipon was ruled to have tipped in a point shot from Maschmeyer, who had received the puck from Bortnak.
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The Winterhawks, meanwhile, are 6-2-0-1, good for second in the U.S. Division, two points behind the Tri-City Americans (7-3-1-0), who have played two more games.
But indications are that the Winterhawks haven’t played all that well of late. They swept a weekend doubleheader in Spokane, winning 3-2 on Friday and 2-1 on Saturday. But Portland was outshot 48-19 in the opener and 35-24 in the second game, with goaltenders Mac Carruth and Ian Curtis, both fresh off the injury list, sparking the victories.
The Winterhawks also got big efforts from their penalty killers, who were 17-for-17 in the two games.
On Wednesday, however, the Winterhawks were whipped 5-1 by the visiting Calgary Hitmen.
Prior to facing the Hitmen, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM/head coach, told Steve Brandon of the Portland Tribune that “people may have overrated our team a little. If we had (Nino) Niederreiter back, then maybe they could rate us like that.”
The Winterhawks were seen by many observers as favourites to win the Western Conference. Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft, remains with the New York Islanders. In fact, he scored his first NHL goal Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
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JUST NOTES: Sinatynski’s father, Vince, is a former scout with the Americans. . . . . Johnston will have gotten a scouting report on the Blazers from Garry Davidson, his director of player personnel. Davidson watched the Blazers lose 5-4 to the visiting Vancouver Giants on Monday.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
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