Daily News Sports Reporter
Austin Madaisky remembers the 2010 postseason well.
Yes, his Kamloops Blazers lost in four games to the Vancouver Giants, and yes, it was the last time the Blazers made the playoffs.
But it also was the coming-out party for the defenceman, who will lead the Blazers into the playoffs today. Kamloops is to play host to the Victoria Royals at Interior Savings Centre at 7 p.m.
The Blazers had acquired Madaisky, who turned 20 on Jan. 30, from the Calgary Hitmen as part of a blockbuster deal in January 2010. He was decent in the final 26 regular-season games with the Blazers that season, scoring two goals and assisting on seven others.
But it was the 2010 postseason in which Madaisky turned a corner. He had a point in each of the Blazers’ four losses, ending with three goals and three assists to lead the team.
“I felt great — that was probably some of the best hockey I’ve played in my life,” said Madaisky, a Surrey native. “I’m hoping to find that level again this postseason.”
Madaisky was named a Western Conference second-team all-star Thursday, and said he improved a lot this season, his fourth in the WHL.
“I grew a lot as a player this year,” Madaisky said. “I think a lot of that can be attributed to bringing in (associate coach) Dave Hunchak, who’s a great defensive coach, and (head coach) Guy Charron.”
Brendan Gallagher of the Vancouver Giants was named to the Western Conference’s first all-star team for the second straight season on Thursday.
Gallagher, who spent the first part of the season with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and also spent time with Canada at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary around Christmas, ended with 41 goals and 36 assists in 54 games.
He is the only repeater on the first team, although all of the other 2010-11 first-teamers have moved on. D Jared Cowen and F Ryan Johansen are full-time NHL players, while D Tyson Barrie and F Tyler Johnson are in the AHL. G James Reid has spent time this season in the AHL, Central League and ECHL.
Three other all-stars from 2010-11 are on the 2011-12 teams. D Brendan Kichton of the Spokane Chiefs and F Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans moved up from the second team to the first team, while D Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips made the second team for the second straight year.
The Western Conference’s three other first-round series are to begin tonight.
The No. 1 seed, the Tri-City Americans, will play host to the eighth-seeded Everett Silvertips in Kennewick, Wash., while the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks will entertain the No. 6 Kelowna Rockets.
The Vancouver Giants, who finished fourth in the conference, are at home to the No. 5 Spokane Chiefs.
All WHL playoff series are best-of-seven.
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