By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers continue perhaps the ugliest part of their WHL schedule tonight in Portland against the Winterhawks.
They’ll play tonight without two thirds of the league’s highest-scoring line, but will have a new face in the lineup Friday when they meet the Cougars in Prince George.
The Blazers announced late Tuesday night that they have acquired centre Thomas Frazee, 20, from the Regina Pats in exchange for centre Shayne Neigum, 20, winger Lyndon Martell, 17, and a 2011 third-round bantam draft pick.“He’s a big guy,” Kamloops general manager Craig Bonner said of the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Frazee. “He’s a good skater for a big guy. Obviously, he’s got big numbers this season. We’re getting all our offence from one line. . . . I felt we needed to add somebody and he’s a guy who was available right now.”The trade came less than 12 hours after the WHL announced that Kamloops right-winger Jordan DePape had been suspended for five games and that centre Chase Schaber would sit for one.
DePape was suspended after he incurred a charging major in the third period of the Blazers’ 3-2 victory over the visiting Swift Current Broncos on Friday night.
DePape’s hit left Swift Current right-winger Killian Hutt on the ice and needing medical attention. He spent Friday night under observation in Royal Inland Hospital and is out indefinitely with a concussion.
DePape, who plays on a line with Brendan Ranford and Schaber, has 29 points, including 12 goals, in 26 games. He will be eligible to return on Dec. 28 against the visiting Vancouver Giants.
Schaber, meanwhile, drew a one-game suspension after taking a game misconduct in the first period of the Blazers’ 10-5 loss to the Chiefs in Spokane on Saturday. Schaber was tossed for making what was ruled an inappropriate gesture following a fight with Chiefs defenceman Brenden Kichton.
Schaber, the Blazers’ captain, was playing in his sixth game after serving a three-game suspension for making physical contact with an on-ice official during a 6-4 loss in Portland on Nov. 20.
Schaber has 38 points, including 26 assists, in 29 games, but won’t play tonight.
That leaves Ranford as the only member of that line who will play tonight. He leads the WHL in goals (26) and points (50).
Frazee, from North Vancouver, is joining his fifth WHL team since the Winterhawks selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2005 bantam draft. He also has played for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Moose Jaw Warriors. The Pats acquired Frazee from the Warriors on Sept. 24.
This season, he has 37 points, including 13 goals, in 33 games with the Pats. He had been playing on Regina’s No. 1 line with wingers Jordan Weal and Carter Ashton.
Bonner said he has been looking for an available 20-year-old forward for a while. He watched Frazee play twice in recent days and “got more serious into it” with Regina GM Chad Lang last week.“I wanted to get it done before Christmas if possible because we’ve got a big stretch of games coming up here,” Bonner said.In 276 regular-season games, Frazee has 153 points, including 99 assists.
Neigum, from Kindersley, had a goal and two assists in 23 games after joining the Blazers from the Chilliwack Bruins. He also had 69 penalty minutes.
Martell had one assist in eight games with the Blazers early in the season, before being assigned to the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings.
After tonight’s game in Portland, the Blazers will climb on their bus and head directly to Prince George where they are scheduled to close out the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with games against the Cougars on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Blazers return to action after Christmas with a game in Vancouver on Dec. 27.
Kamloops goes into tonight’s game with a 15-15-2 record. That leaves it 10th in the 10-team Western Conference, but it is just two points out of fifth place.
The Winterhawks (24-8-3) lead the conference.The Blazers also may welcome back defenceman Josh Caron tonight. A broken collarbone has kept him out since the second game of the season. If he doesn’t play tonight, he is almost certain to play Friday in Prince George.
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