By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
In a pre-training camp conversation, veteran defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers repeatedly refers to those two words.
It is something he says the Blazers didn’t have on a consistent basis last season when they lost their last eight games, finished 29-37-6, and missed the playoffs by three points.
“Work ethic . . . that is a team effort,” Maschmeyer, 20, says. “Work ethic always prevails. Going through practices, going through games . . . it has to start right at the very beginning.”
The beginning for the 2011-12 edition of the Blazers is today.
Players will register for training camp today at Interior Savings Centre, with rookie camp running Friday and Saturday. Main camp attendees will skate both days as well; main camp gets really serious Sunday and runs through Tuesday.
It all ends with the annual intrasquad game on Tuesday, 7 p.m., at ISC.
As the season approaches, Maschmeyer, who is from Bruderheim, Alta., says the Blazers badly need to change how they approach practices.
“Work ethic going into practices should be harder than the games,” he reasons. “When we get to the games, they should be easier because we’re working so hard.
“We should be practising like that every day.”
As he looks back at last season, Maschmeyer feels the Blazers “were a team that could have done more than what we did. We underachieved for what I thought we could have done with the people we had. It’s not like we didn’t try . . . but there was something missing. Not something skillwise, but something mentally . . . we didn’t all click.”
A look at the Blazers’ depth chart reveals 16 of the players off that roster are expected in camp.
“We have an older group of guys,” Maschmeyer continues, “but somewhere along the line it has to change here and it has to click together as a team and as individuals.
“But work ethic will prevail and we have to do that every night, not just every once in a while.”
Maschmeyer pointed to games with the Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs as evidence of last season’s inconsistencies.
In Kamloops, the Blazers split 4-3 shootout decisions with the Chiefs; on the road, the Blazers were beaten, 10-1 and 10-5. The Blazers beat the Americans 3-2 in a shootout and lost 5-4 here, but dropped 7-3 and 5-0 decisions in Kennewick, Wash.
“We played them hard at home and then go there and lose like that,” Maschmeyer says. “It just didn’t make sense.”
Head coach Guy Charron agrees with his veteran defenceman.
“Absolutely,” Charron says. “I don’t mind exposing some of the areas that need to be better.”
It is something he badly wants to change as he heads into his final WHL season.
Maschmeyer played 48 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2008-09 before being dealt to the Blazers prior to the start of the 2009-10 season. Despite being undersized at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he has proved durable, playing all 72 games in each of his two seasons here. He also has put up 73 points in those 144 games.
But he fully understands this will be his last season in the WHL and he doesn’t want it to end like the previous two — the Blazers were swept from a first-round series by the Giants in the spring of 2010.
“Each year as you go along, you realize you’re getting closer and closer to the end . . . not to the end of your hockey career but you kind of feel as if this is your last go at it,” he says. “Personally, you want to do well. Guy has often said that a successful team does more for personal goals . . . if you win as a team you’re going to win as a player.”
Maschmeyer hasn’t been treated to so much as a professional tryout during his WHL career, so he and his agent, Gerry Johannson, will explore all options for next season. That will include going to school — Maschmeyer will be owed five years books and tuition when his WHL career ends — and opportunities in Europe.
“I want to continue my hockey career,” he says. “I love the game. I love being around the guys, love being around the sport.”
First, he says “I want to do something good here.”
He got a taste of the work ethic of which he speaks with the Giants under head coach Don Hay. So, Maschmeyer says, he knows what it’s like.
“I didn’t always get along with Don Hay but I really admire the guy,” Maschmeyer recalls. “As a cocach, he was a tough coach. But he had his practices really, really hard.”
The result was that “when it came to games, we were excited . . . at that time of my career I wasn’t playing a whole lot but games were fun times.
“Practices . . . we knew we were going to get worked.”
The Giants went 57-10-5 that season and reached the Western Conference final.
“We knew coming into games that we were going to win,” he says.
A lot of that feeling was due to the work put in during practices.
“It does go a long ways,” Maschmeyer says. “Everybody says it but it’s hard to do.”
JUST NOTES: Maschmeyer will be one of three 20-year-olds on the Blazers’ roster as camp opens, the others being C Chase Schaber and D Josh Caron. . . . Maschmeyer says he doesn’t feel old until he sees the 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds arriving for camp. “Then you think, ‘Oh my gawd, I’m getting old.’ ” Then, with a laugh, he adds that Charron “told me to shave so I could look younger.” . . . Maschmeyer’s brother Brock, 19, is with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who left Tuesday for Moscow where they will play in the World Junior Club Cup. Brock played two seasons with the Lloydminster Bobcats, before spending last season in Fort McMurray. . . . The Blazers will play the Victoria Royals in an exhibition game at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre on Sept. 2. Game time will be 7 p.m.
CAMP NOTES: Players attending the rookie and main camps will register today, 5 p.m., at the Sports Action Lounge in the Interior Savings Centre. . . . The first rookie camp practice hits the ice Friday, 9 a.m., with others to follow at 10:15 and 11:30 a.m., and 12:45 p.m. Main campers will practice at 2:15 and 3:45 p.m., with rookie games set for 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. . . . The Blazers expect 71 players for rookie camp. That doesn’t include F Rylan Freed of Melfort, Sask., and D Riley Hummitsch of Chino Hills, Calif., both of whom are out with injuries. Both were 2011 bantam draft picks. . . . The Blazers anticipate having all nine of their 2010 bantam picks and nine of the 2011 selections in camp. . . . As well, five of the 10 players selected in 2009 are on the main camp roster. . . . F Tyson McLellan of San Jose is expected at rookie camp. McLellan, 15, is the son of Todd McLellan, the head coach of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Six local products are on the rookie camp roster — F Diego Cuglietta, F Nick Fidanza, G Ty Hamer-Jackson, D Wes Matsuda, G Austin Piquette and G Liam McLeod. McLeod was a ninth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft. . . . Fidanza, Matsuda and McLeod played for the bantam tier 1 Jardine’s Blazers. . . . Piquette spent the season with the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna. . . . D Connor Clouston, a third-round selection in 2011, is the son of Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston. . . . D Josh Connolly, a third-round pick in 2010, is the younger brother of Prince George Cougars F Brett Connolly. . . . D Mackenzie Ferner, an eighth-round pick in 2010, missed much of last season with an injury. His father, Mark, is a former Kamloops Jr. Oilers defenceman who once coached the Blazers and now is the head coach of the Everett Silvertips. . . . F Cooper Holick of Cranbrook is the son of former Kootenay Ice head coach Mark Holick, who now is head coach of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. . . . F Cole Souto, who won’t turn 16 until Dec. 27, is on the rookie camp roster. His brother Chase is heading into his second season with the Blazers. They are from Yorba Linda, Calif. . . . The training camp rosters are available at www.blazerhockey.com.
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