Daily News Sports Editor
Linden Saip, not that long ago a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers, is at home, waiting for the phone to ring.
Craig Bonner, the WHL team’s general manager, is on the road, waiting for the phone to ring.
Saip, a 19-year-old defenceman from Delta, left the Blazers on Nov. 1. At the time, he said he felt it was “time to move on . . . I just kind of feel my role here is diminishing.”
On Thursday afternoon, Saip said he hasn’t had any second thoughts.
“No,” he reiterated. “My time was done there.”
These days, Saip, who was in his third season with the Blazers, is at home, “skating a bit” and working out in a home gym.
“I’m waiting for the release thing to happen,” Saip said Thursday afternoon.
His junior A rights are held by the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, but, when asked about going that route, Saip said: “I haven’t quite decided yet. We’ll see what happens then I’ll lay my options out.”
He did admit to having “heard from BCHL and WHL teams.”
Saip also admitted that he wants to play again.
“Yeah . . . I’m hoping that it gets straightened out,” he said. “I am anxious to get back.”
Bonner, meanwhile, is in Saskatchewan, getting a look at some East Division teams and some Blazers’ prospects. He spent Wednesday in Prince Albert watching the Raiders beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-2, and was in Regina yesterday.
Bonner said he has had WHL teams ask about Saip, but added “I’m waiting on him to want to continue to play in the Western league.”
“I contacted the family last week,” Bonner continued, “and just said, ‘Let me know . . . there are teams interested. When you want to play in the Western league, let me know.’
“It’s up to him. I’ve got teams interested. Once he says, ‘Yeah,’ we’ll go from there.”
Bonner said he has heard from “quite a few teams,” but that it hasn’t moved past the inquiry stage.
“I haven’t really gotten into price,” he stated. “I have an idea in my head but I didn’t want to start getting into it and then have him say he didn’t want to play.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Saip had seven points, three of them goals, and 28 penalty minutes in 13 games with the Blazers this season.
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The Blazers are back at it tonight against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. This will be the Blazers’ third game in four nights, and they are at home again Saturday when the Prince George Cougars come calling.
Kamloops opened the week Tuesday with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Regina Pats at Interior Savings Centre. The Blazers left for Spokane immediately afterwards, and got spanked 10-1 by the Chiefs on Wednesday.
While the Blazers welcomed back left-winger Brendan Ranford in Spokane, they remain without forwards Chase Schaber and JC Lipon. Schaber will complete his three-game suspension tonight, while Lipon also will sit on Saturday. All three were suspended by the WHL following a melee after the second period of a 6-4 loss to the Winterhawks in Portland on Saturday.
Forward Aspen Sterzer, 16, was brought in from the EDGE Academy in Calgary and has played two games. He is expected to play again tonight.
Veteran goaltender Jeff Bosch, who was believed to have suffered a concussion during a fight in Portland, will return from a two-game absence tonight, but it wasn’t know last night whether he will start or back up Cam Lanigan, who gave up eight goals in Spokane.
Troy Trombley, 16, came in from the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers and backed up the last two games. He made his WHL debut in Spokane, allowing two goals on nine shots in 14 minutes.
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JUST NOTES: Game time tonight and Saturday is 7 o’clock. . . . Blazers F Dylan Willick, 18, and F Colin Smith, 17, have won academic awards and will be saluted prior to Saturday‘s game. Willick, from Prince George, is completing English 110 at TRU. Smith, from Edmonton, is a full-time student at Valleyview Secondary, where he is taking Chemistry 12, English 12, Foods and Nutrition 11, and Peer Helping 12. . . . After playing the Cougars, the Blazers will be off until Dec. 3 when they meet the Saskatoon Blades at ISC.
Spokane Chiefs (12-9-2)
at Kamloops Blazers (12-12-1)
Today, 7 p.m., Interior Savings Centre
Key injuries: Kamloops -- D Josh Caron (collarbone, out), G Jeff Bosch (concussion, probable). Spokane -- D Garrett Leedahl (concussion, out), F Dominik Uher (shoulder, out).
Overview: The Blazers, 5-5-0 in their last 10, are tied for last place in the 10-team Western Conference, but are only four points out of second. . . . The Chiefs, 6-2-2 in their last 10, are tied for fifth, one point ahead of Kamloops. . . Spokane is 2-0 against the Blazers, having won 10-1 at home on Wednesday and 4-3 in a shootout here on Oct. 6. . . . Chiefs D Jared Cowen scored three times in the rout, doubling his season total to six. . . . Kamloops LW Brendan Ranford leads the WHL with 22 goals. He has 16 points, including nine goals, in his last seven games. . . . Kamloops will be without C Chase Schaber and RW JC Lipon, both of whom are serving WHL suspensions. . . . The Blazers lead the WHL in penalty minutes (643) and fighting majors (47). The Chilliwack Bruins, in two fewer games, have 581 penalty minutes and 37 fights. . . . F Darren Kramer, who joined the Chiefs on Oct. 6 from the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm, leads the WHL in fighting majors, with 14 in 18 games. F Ryan Hanes of the Blazers is tied for third, with nine. The two fought Wednesday in Spokane. . . . The Blazers have the WHL’s poorest penalty killing, at 71.9 per cent, while the Chiefs are fourth (85.7).