|Defencemen Austin Madaisky (bottom) and Bronson Maschmeyer|
have been doing some heavy lifting for the Kamloops Blazers this season.
(Keith Anderson / Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNANMantle and Maris.
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
Maschmeyer and Madaisky.
The legendary 1961 New York Yankees had their M & M boys, in Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
Meet Bronson Maschmeyer and Austin Madaisky, the Kamloops Blazers’ M & M boys, both of whom are having the best seasons of their WHL careers.
Maschmeyer, 20, is coming off the first two-goal game of his 233-game career, having scored twice in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George.
The native of Bruderheim, Alta., hasn’t missed a game since being acquired from the Vancouver Giants prior to the 2009-10 season. When he takes the ice against the Tri-City Americans tonight at the Interior Savings Centre, it will be his 185th consecutive game in a Kamloops uniform.
“And this guy is not a heavy guy by any means,” offered Kamloops head coach Guy Charron.
The 5-foot-10 Maschmeyer is listed at 182 pounds, which would be with pucks in all of his pockets.
Maschmeyer’s biggest enemy on the ice may be . . . himself.
“He’s really hard on himself,” Charron said, adding that this season has been better becuse he’s “a lot more confident about his game.”
Maschmeyer wouldn’t disagree with the head coach.
“I think I’ve improved on it a lot this season and the team has really tried to help me with it,” Maschmeyer said.
He began his career in Vancouver where, he said, “You knew if you made a mistake, you’re not in.”
The result of that, he said, is that when he arrived in Kamloops “every mistake I made, my confidence went down. But the coaches here have been good. They notice when I’m getting hard on myself and they come over and talk about it.
“It’s a long game and mistakes are made. It’s more of a mental thing.”
Maschmeyer has 22 points, including seven goals, in 48 games and should best his career highs of eight goals, 31 assists and 38 points.
“He’s scoring goals. He’s doing the things because of his sakting ability that he needs to do,” Charron continued. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence right now and that’s great for us.
“He’s a good player for us.”
A terrific skater, Maschmeyer, when he plays with confidence, is able to move up and not worry about getting caught because he is able to get back into the play.
“I encourage him . . . you’re a great skater, don’t worry about mistakes,” Charron says.
This season, with the success the Blazers have had to this point, the defencemen have been freed up to get more involved offensively.
“Our structure has been so good that I can really trust the forwards,” Maschmeyer said. “I do believe in my skating ability that if I do get caught I better bust back.”
As a 20-year-old, Maschmeyer also knows that this is it. His WHL career ends with the Blazers’ final game of the season.
“Sometimes I try not to think about it,” he said. “But it’s been a really good season and as a 20-year-old that’s really what you ask for. You want some success.”
As for next season, Maschmeyer said he would like to give pro hockey a chance, but he also has been talking with “about” eight CIS schools.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said.
Madaisky, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen two years ago, already has career highs in goals (9), assists (24) and points (33).
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder from Surrey showed signs of becoming this kind of player in the spring of 2010 when he had six points in a four-game first-round playoff loss to Vancouver.
He was continuing to improve last season when a broken neck ended his season after 55 games.
He has come back from that setback and shown terrific form, but admitted that there was some doubt.
“There was a little bit, for sure,” Madaisky said. “As time went on, I started to look at it as just another injury. I had broken bones before and come back from that. I was just really lucky with how everything healed.”
The toughest thing to overcome was the mental part of the injury. All of that disappeared the first couple of times he took hard hits.
“Luckily, I didn’t have any reservations whatsoever on the ice . . . and now I don’t even think about it,” he said. “It’s just something that happened in the past.”
A fifth-round selection by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL’s 2010 draft, Madaisky has all the tools to play the pro game.
“He’s one of those guys you’re hard on because you expect more,” Charron said. “But when he’s on his game and determined to do the job, he’s an excelent player.”
Madaisky said that it’s all about confidence.
“I’m just really working hard defensively and it seems the harder I work defensively the more luck I get offensively,” he said, before adding that associate coach Dave Hunchak, who handles the defencemen, “has given me a lot of opportunities back there.”
And he will get a lot of opportunities tonight against the Americans.
“It should be a good battle,” Madaisky said. “They are the best team in the league and the CHL.”
The Americans (32-7-0) are riding a franchise-record 13-game winning streak. They haven’t lost since Nov. 30 when they were beaten 6-2 by the Rockets in Kelowna.
The Blazers (28-10-3) are 7-1-0 in their last eight home games. Overall, Kamloops is 6-1-2 in its last nine outings.
The bottom line, however, is this — the Americans lead the Western Conference by five points over the Blazers.
“We’re playing the best team in the league,” Charron said. “There’s no reason to be complacent. It’s a great opportunity for our team.”
Tonight’s likely starting goaltenders, Ty Rimmer of the Americans and Cole Cheveldave of the Blazers, have put up five shutouts in their last nine starts.
Rimmer blanked the Everett Silvertips 4-0 on Saturday, for his second straight shutout. Cheveldave beat the Prince George Cougars three times last week, shutting them out twice.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Blazers and Americans. Tri-City beat visiting Kamloops 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 19.
JUST NOTES: The host Americans beat the Blazers 3-2 on OT on Nov. 19. F Justin Feser scored the winner at 1:25 of OT. . . . F Jesse Mychan, 19, may make his Americans debut tonight. He was acquired from Everett on Saturday. Mychan had seven points and 106 penalty minutes in 26 games with Everett. . . . Rimmer’s shutout streak is at 160 minutes 31 seconds. . . . Kamloops F Ryan Hanes (concussion) won’t play tonight, while D Brady Gaudet (concussion) is questionable.