Thursday, December 9, 2010

Robinson planning for trek to Yukon

COLIN ROBINSON
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
While most of us are planning for Christmas, Colin Robinson already is looking past that and to Feb. 12.
That is when Robinson’s Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to meet the Vancouver Giants in a WHL game in Whitehorse, Yukon.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” he said Thursday. “There’s going to be lots of hoopla. It’s a part of the world I’ve never been to and probably never would.”
Robinson wears two hats with the Blazers — athletic trainer and equipment manager — and he will be the first to tell you that this won’t be your ordinary WHL road trip.
Robinson admitted to having two thoughts when he first heard about the game.
“I was nervous at first,” he said, “because it’s a neutral-site game and we might not have the usual tools.”
His second thought, which he expressed to general manager Craig Bonner, was that “I guess we better get bigger winter coats.”
Robinson’s first concern is being addressed to the point where he no longer worries about it. He has spoken with WHL commissioner Ron Robison and with Dallas Kitt, the WHL’s manager of marketing and events, and has been assured that everything will be fine.
“The host committee is organized,” the veteran trainer said, “and we will have everything we need to do our jobs and look after the guys. There will be two dressing rooms per team. We’ll have a place to hang our suits. There’ll be room for the coaches and me to work. It’ll be good.”
Travel arrangements still are being finalized, but the Blazers either will take their bus to Vancouver on Feb. 10 and then fly to Whitehorse on Feb. 11, or they will fly direct from Kamloops on Feb. 11.
“We’re still working through all of that,” Bonner said. “But they’re trying to make it work direct from here.”
Either way, the Blazers will hold a practice in Whitehorse the afternoon of Feb. 11 and will spend the evening at a banquet in honour of the event, which is being held in conjunction with 11th annual Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.
They will hold their usual pregame skate on Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., with game time set for 4 p.m. The Blazers will spend that night in Whitehorse and return to Kamloops on Feb. 13. The Tri-City Americans will play here on Feb. 15.
Robinson stresses that “this is not just another trip.”
Because the team will be flying, he said he has to better prepared than when he’s packing for a bus trip.
“This won’t be like taking the bus and having everything underneath,” he said.
And because they won’t be playing in an arena that is home to a WHL team, there won’t be gear already there that can be shared.
“We share a lot of things,” Robinson said of the bond between the WHL’s trainers, equipment managers and athletic therapists. “We share tape . . . a ton of stuff.”
The bottom line is that Robinson is looking forward to the trek because, as he put it, “life is about experiences and this will be another one.”
Yes, he said, he is taking notes for the book will write when the time comes.
The Blazers, meanwhile, will try tonight to get their game back on track.
They dropped a 3-0 decision to the Giants in Vancouver on Tuesday, after which they felt the wrath of head coach Guy Charron, who was scathing in postgame interviews and made their lives miserable at practice Wednesday.
Spirits were high Thursday, however, as they went through their paces in the chilly confines of Memorial Arena.
Defenceman Josh Caron, who has been out with a broken collarbone since Sept. 25, won’t play tonight, but he is close to returning. Caron, who is back practising, is to see a doctor Monday at which point he expects to be cleared to play. Should that happen, he could play Wednesday against the Winterhawks in Portland or, more likely, in a weekend doubleheder in Prince George against the Cougars.
Defenceman Brady Gaudet, who picked up a 13-stitch cut on his chin when he was struck by Vancouver goaltender Mark Segal’s stick on Tuesday, will play tonight.
The Blazers know that the Broncos won’t be an easy touch. Already on this B.C. Division swing, they have won in Chilliwack (5-4 over the Bruins) and Kelowna (4-1 over the Rockets).
And centre Cody Eakin has been on fire. He has seven points, including four goals, in the two games. Two of his goals have been game-winners.
Eakin, a 19-year-old from Winnipeg, is the son of Grant Eakin (Winnipeg, Lethbridge, 1973-78) and the nephew of Bruce Eakin (Saskatoon, 1980-82).
Cody will fly out of Kamloops for Toronto on Saturday where he will take part in the selection camp for Canada’s national junior team.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers and Zimmer Autosport are playing host to the annual Teddy Bear/Tuque Toss tonight. Fans are encouraged to bring a new stuffed animal, tuque, scarf or pair of gloves and toss it onto the ice when the Blazers score their first goal. . . . The Blazers Booster Club is handling distribution with the Royal Inland Hospital and more than 20 other organizations to benefit. . . . The Broncos were last here on Dec. 13, 2008, when they blanked the Blazers, 2-0. Yes, that was a Teddy Bear game. . . . The Blazers will have three players off their protected list playing in the Canada Winter Games in Halifax, Feb. 10-18. F Matthew Needham of Penticton and D Joshua Connolly of Prince George will play for B.C., while F Cole Ully of Calgary is to play for Alberta. All three were selected in the 2010 bantam draft.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
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