|Brendan Ranford (17) of Team WHL drives past|
Team Russia's Yuri Urychev.
(Photo by Murray Mitchell/Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Reporter
It has been said many times by many people, but the phrase “just happy to be here” couldn’t have fit any better than it did coming out of Linden Vey’s mouth Wednesday.
Vey, a 19-year-old right winger with the Medicine Hat Tigers, suited up for Team WHL in a Subway Super Series game Wednesday at Interior Savings Centre.
Team WHL, featuring a lineup comprised of different players from last night, will play the Russians tonight in Prince George as the series draws to a conclusion.
Vey almost didn’t make it to Kamloops. A storm in Medicine Hat forced him to remain in The Gas City an extra day, before he finally landed in Kamloops on Wednesday around 1:30 p.m., a mere 5-1/2 hours before game time.
“It wasn’t the best trip, but that’s the way it goes,” said Vey, who is from Wakaw, Sask. “You can’t control the weather and you’ve just got to roll with it.”
The original schedule had Vey driving from Medicine Hat to Calgary on Tuesday, then flying to Vancouver and then on to Kamloops. But poor conditions made the Trans-Canada Highway west of Medicine Hat almost impassable, and Vey and Tigers assistant coach Joey Frazer were forced to leave Wednesday.
Even then, the roads were barely navigable — it took Frazer and Vey four hours to make the 270-kilometre journey.
“The roads weren’t the best, but we made it here and that’s the main thing,” Vey said. “There were portions of the road that were very good, and portions that were pure ice and almost undriveable.”
Speaking of bad weather . . . it gave Kamloops official Kris Hartley an opportunity to serve as a referee in last night’s game.
Hartley had been penciled in to work as a linesman, the same role he has filled in the WHL for at least four seasons. Matt Kirk and Pat Smith were supposed to serve as referees and were en route to Kamloops from the Lower Mainland when they were turned back due to the closure of the Coquihalla Highway after an accident.
Hartley was called upon to fill in, as was Steve Papp, who hurried to Kamloops from Kelowna. Ryan Dawson and Mike Boisvert, who also got a last-minute call to replace Hartley, worked as linesmen.
There was a worry that Papp wouldn’t make on time and Hartley would have to start alone. However, Papp arrived in time for the player introductions and the national anthems.
The teams are hoping there won’t be any delays in flying from Kamloops to Prince George this morning.
The roster for tonight’s game, which included six players who suited up last night, was to fly north today. The entire Team WHL roster was at Wednesday’s game, even those who didn’t play.
Tyler Boldt made an appearance in Kamloops as part of the festivities.
Boldt, a former Blazers defenceman, now is the WHL’s manager of player development and recruitment. Part of his job involves talking to potential players about the league and its scholarship policy.
He is based out of the league’s office in Calgary, but came west Tuesday to discuss the league’s virtues with the Bantam Tier 1 Jardine’s Blazers, who left Wednesday to take part in a Medicine Hat tournament. Boldt also will attend that tournament.
Boldt, 26, played for the Blazers from 1999-2004, and also suited up for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades. He was working as general manager and head coach of the KIJHL’s Chase Chiefs before being hired by the WHL in December.
Brendan Shinnimin had a solid game, picking up two assists in WHL’s 7-6 shootout loss.
It was only the second game for Shinnimin since Oct. 6, but he hardly looked out of place. Shinnimin was suspended 12 games after he received a checking-from-behind major in a game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 6.
Prior to the suspension, he had 13 points in seven games. He returned Saturday in a 5-0 loss to the host Spokane Chiefs.
“I got to play a game Saturday and got back into game shape,” said Shinnimin, a 19-year-old from Winnipeg. “I played in this game last year, so I knew what it was about. I was nervous last year . . . but I felt a little more comfortable this year.”