Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Charron is Blazers' guy for next season, too

Guy Charron's message has been getting through to his Kamloops
Blazers this season.

(Photo by Christopher Mast/www.mastimages.com)
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
With their WHL team off to the seventh-best start in franchise history, the owners of the Kamloops Blazers have signed head coach Guy Charron to a contract extension.
The deal was announced Tuesday morning, before the Blazers dropped a 5-2 decision to the host Prince Albert Raiders last night.
“I was OK with the way the situation was but I guess it’s a reward for the way the season started,” Charron said after the game.
Charron, who took over as the Blazers’ head coach on Nov. 23, 2009, now is signed through the end of next season. Originally, he signed for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, then got a two-year contract through the end of this season.
The move puts Charron’s contract in line with that of associate coach Dave Hunchak, who joined the club in June. Hunchak, who wasn’t re-signed by the Moose Jaw Warriors after four seasons with them, signed a two-year contract with the Blazers.
The Blazers went 21-20-4 under Charron in 2009-10 and then were swept from the first round of playoffs by the Vancouver Giants. Last season, the Blazers finished 29-37-6 and out of the playoffs.
The Blazers have pulled quite a turnaround this season, as they now are 22-9-1 and leading the B.C. Division. That also has them second in the 10-team Western Conference.
Charron said general manager Craig Bonner called him before the team headed east.
“He had talked to ownership and they wanted to do something,” Charron said. “We sat down and chatted and he told me what they wanted to do. I said, ‘Fine . . . that’s good.’ ”
Vancouver-based businessman Tom Gaglardi is the team’s majority owner. Former Blazers players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor also are involved.
Last night, the Blazers dropped their second straight game on a six-game swing through the East Division. The Blazers, who meet the Blades in Saskatoon tonight, are 1-2-0 on the trip.
The Blazers were without centre Chase Schaber, their captain, and forward Matt Needham, both of whom were injured in Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Pats in Regina.
Schaber has a leg injury and won’t play again until after the Christmas break. Needham passed his concussion test but was held out for precautionary reasons.
The Raiders (11-22-3), who are 11th in the 12-team Eastern Conference, won their fourth straight home game.
“Their goaltender played well. Their team played well,” Charron said. “But this is our first real adversity. We have to find ways to get back to playing the way we have been earlier. Our sync is not quite there right now.”
The Blazers also are finding out that their record is preceding them into other teams’ buildings.
“I agree,” Charron said. “Tonight was an indication of that, for sure.”
Kellan Tochkin scored twice, including an empty-netter, for the Raiders, with Brandon Herrod, Mike Winther, who also had two assists, and Salmon Arm’s Shane Danyluk adding one each.
Tim Bozon scored early in the second period to pull the Blazers into a 1-1 tie. Brendon Ranford had the Blazers’ other goal, cutting into a 3-1 deficit at 14:02 of the second period.
Danyluk’s goal, at 3:26 of the third, seemed to put the game out of reach.
Raiders goaltender Cole Holowenko stopped 29 shots. He was coming off his first career shutout, a 5-0 blanking of the Rebels in Red Deer on Sunday.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave turned aside 34 shots and is likely to make his 13th start in 14 games tonight in Saskatoon.
“We have to get away from the penalties that aren’t necessary,” Charron said after his club took three minors in the game’s first 10:10 and had to defend a 5-on-3 situation for the third time in as many games. “You lose momentum.
“We have to get back to playing the way we want our identity to be. . . . We have to bite the bullet and play to our systems and play the way we want to play to be successful.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers scratched F Jordan DePape (shoulder), Schaber and Needham. . . . DePape has joined the Blazers on this trip and was behind the bench last night. . . . Raiders F Mark McNeill, who was released from the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp in Calgary yesterday morning, had one assist. . . . The Raiders were without freshman F Jonas Knutsen, who is with Norway at the IIHF U-20 World Championship (Division 1, Group A) at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. He has two goals in two games as Norway is 1-1. . . . Herrod scored while shorthanded, the second time in two games the Blazers have given up such a goal.

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