Thursday, September 29, 2011

Familiar faces returning to Kamloops

Daily News Sports Editor
The parade of former Kamloops Blazers coaches at Interior Savings Centre continues this weekend.
Don Hay brings his Vancouver Giants (2-1-0) to town today for a date with the Blazers, while Marc Habscheid and the Victoria Royals (1-1-0) are to visit on Sunday.
On Saturday, Dean Clark and his Prince George Cougars ruined the Blazers’ home-opener with a 1-0 victory.
That was the 428th victory of Clark’s WHL head-coaching career, leaving him 10th on the all-time list.
Habscheid, with 318 victories, has his Royals in Prince George for games tonight and Saturday, so their game here Sunday will be their third in three nights.
Hay is third on the WHL’s list of all-time coaching victories with 523, two of them having come this season.
Hay, a coach who prides himself on his team’s work ethic and defensive play, may be scratching his head a bit these days as his guys have given up 10 goals in their last two games, including a 6-5 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips on Wednesday.
Vancouver centre James Henry tied a franchise record with five assists in the victory.
The Giants, however, are without two key veteran players. Defenceman Neil Manning, who quarterbacks their power play, isn’t expected to play until sometime next week thanks to a back injury, while centre Brendan Gallagher remains with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.
The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Gallagher, who has scored 85 goals over the last two seasons, has been the story of the Habs’ camp. The Canadiens have until Saturday, 2 p.m., to sign Gallagher, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft. If he isn’t signed by the deadline, he has to be returned to the Giants.
As well, sophomore defenceman Luke Fenske (hand) is on the shelf, while Zach Hodder, a defenceman who was a first-round pick in the 2008 bantam draft, is at home awaiting a trade.
Defenceman Kiefer McNaughton, who was acquired by the Giants from the Blazers in May, has one assist and two fights in Vancouver’s two games. A 6-foot-3, 212-pounder from North Vancouver, he was a fourth-round pick by the Blazers in the 2008 bantam draft.
Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said after Thursday’s practice that he will start Cole Cheveldave, 18, in goal tonight, with Taran Kozun, 17, backing him up. That will leave Cam Lanigan, who gave up just one goal against the Cougars, in the press box.
Cheveldave, who is from Calgary, will be making his first regular-season WHL appearance. He was the AJHL’s rookie of the year last season with the Drumheller Dragons.
Kozun, from Nipawin, Sask., played last season for the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos.
The Royals, meanwhile, are making their trip here since relocating from Chilliwack, where they spent their first five seasons as the Bruins.
The most noticeable thing about Habscheid’s club is the size on the back end. The Royals’ roster shows eight defencemen, seven of them over 6-foot-0 and three at least 6-foot-4. That includes 6-foot-5, 230-pound freshman Keegan Kanzig, 16, who was the seventh overall pick in the 2010 bantam draft, and Kade Bilton, a 6-foot-5, 186-pounder from Parksville.
JUST NOTES: Game time tonight is 7 o’clock, with Sunday’s game to begin at 6 p.m. . . . The Blazers will be without RW J.T. Barnett (knee) for both games. He skated lightly yesterday. . . . Also missing from both games will be Kamloops LW Brendan Ranford, who is eligible to return from a six-game WHL suspension on Oct. 7 against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . .The Royals are without F Curt Gogol, 20, who is in camp with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and F Brenden Persley, 18, who is shown as being out for three weeks with an illness.
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