By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Jayden Halbgewachs was able to chuckle about it after the fact.
But he really doesn’t want to get caught with his head down too often.
Halbgewachs, the Kamloops Blazers’ first selection in the 2012 WHL bantam draft, got caught looking in his feet for the puck in the third period of a rookie scrimmage Friday night and got trampled by defenceman Connor Clouston.
It was Day 1 of the Blazers’ training camp at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre, and Halbgewachs could feel good because he scored the winner as Team Recchi skated to a 3-2 victory over Team Iginla.
Halbgewachs (it’s pronounced HALLB-ge-walks) took a nifty pass from winger Mitch Friesen off a 2-on-1 break and quickly fired a shot over goaltender Cole Kehler’s glove hand.
But in this game, when you’re 5-foot-7 and 142 pounds, you’re supposed to score; you’re not supposed to get caught in the trolley tracks.
“I’m not sure who it was,” offered a smiling Halbgewachs. “I had my head down and he got me in the head, I guess.”
Halbgewachs, the 19th overall selection in the draft, has been smallish at virtually every level. Last season, he put up 89 points, including 55 goals, in 24 games for the bantam AA Prairie Storm.
“You have to fight through it,” he said of his lack of size. “You have to do what you can do and keep your head up and watch out for guys coming afer you. Get out of the way or take the hit, once in a while.
“As long as I keep my head up . . . I had my head down there looking for the puck.”
Other than that one instance, Halbgewachs showed that he is a terrific skater with a wonderful skill set and a busy stick. On one shift, he got hemmed in a corner by Team Iginla’s Evan Bowden and Ezra Hall, but after some dazzling moves still came out with the puck.
“He’s a pretty skillful young player,” offered Blazers head coach Guy Charron. “He’s not big in size but certainly has tremendous skills.
“The attribute I really like in a player is the ability to skate and he certainly has that.”
Halbgewachs knows that he will be held over for main camp, which begins Sunday, and expects to play in the Blue-White game on Tuesday and against the visiting Victoria Royals on Thursday at Interior Savings Centre. He is eager but admits there are butterflies at the thought of moving up to play with the big boys.
“I’m really looking forward to that but I’m a little bit nervous, with their size and stuff and knowing that most of them are veterans and have played on the team,” he said. “But it should be good.”
He also knows that playing with better players can only help his game.
“Hopefully they know where they’re going and I know where I should be going,” he said.
Halbgewachs is from Emerald Park, a community located just east of Regina on the Trans-Canada Highway. His father, Jamie, owns Glacier Glass in Regina.
There are two other brothers — Taylor, 12, is a goalie, while Brandon, 18, is going to camp with Victoria. If he doesn’t stick with the Royals, Brandon, a forward, will play with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins.
To say that Jayden has had a busy summer would be something of an understatement, but such is life for our best young hockey players these days.
For starters, he said that he tried to work out five days a week; he also played stick-and puck — players wear helmets and skates and work with a stick and pucks — after school following last season’s conclusion.
He spent a week at the Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Camp in Toronto, a week-long endeavour that is by invitation only. There also was a Sask First camp on the campus of Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Sask. And, oh yes, let’s not forget the two weeks of power skating in Regina.
Before journeying to Kamloops, he was in camp with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians for whom he will play this season.
So . . . is he tired?
“No. . . . I’m ready to go,” he said.
JUST NOTES: F Dallas Calvin, who signed with the Blazers on March 16, 2011, isn’t in camp. Calvin, who put up 77 points in 41 games with the junior B Beaver Valley NiteHawks last season, apparently has told the Blazers that he wants to concentrate on playing baseball. He remains on Kamloops’ 50-player list. . . . D Calen Whitworth (hip) of Surrey is listed as day-to-day. . . . F D.J. Crane of Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask., didn’t show up, so F Mitch Lipon was moved to Team Iginla and is wearing No. 11. Lipon, 16, is the younger brother of Blazers F J.C. Lipon. . . . Scrimmages today are at 9 a.m., noon, 5:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. . . . On Sunday, main camp games are at 9 and 10:30 a.m., and noon. . . . Camp moves to Interior Savings Centre on Monday. . . . In Friday’s rookie scrimmages, Team Recchi beat Team Iginla 2-1 and Team Doan got past Team Sydor, 5-1. Drew Bish also scored for Team Recchi, with Jeran Knorr replying for Team Iginla. Team Sydor got goals from Spencer Bast, Jordan Thomson, Sean Pilet, Tyler Olson and Bruce Sharp. Nick Chyzowski scored for Team Sydor.
Tim O’Donovan, the Blazers’ media co-ordinator, was kind enough to put together a release showing the hockey bloodlines in Kamloops’ training camp.
Here’s a look . . .
F Nick Chyzowski, who was selected by the Blazers in the second round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft, is following in his father’s footsteps. Chyzowski’s father Dave played three seasons with the Blazers before playing 126 games in the NHL. . . .
D Connor Clouston, selected by the Blazers in the third round of the 2011 draft, is the son of Medicine Hat Tigers general manager/head coach Shaun Clouston. The elder Clouston also played four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks in the late 1980s. . . .
D Jaiden Focht is the son of former NHL/WHL D Dan Focht. The elder Focht played two seasons in the WHL with Tri-City and Regina before playing 82 games in the NHL from 2001-04 with Phoenix and Pittsburgh. . . .
D Nolan Gallagher is the younger brother of Vancouver Giants star F Brendan Gallagher. Brendan, 20, put up 280 points over the past four seasons with the Giants and is expected to play in the Montreal Canadiens’ system this season. . . .
F Charlie Gawlicki was selected by the Blazers in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. His father Jeff was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the ninthth round of the 1987 NHL draft. Jeff played four seasons at Northern Michigan U. . . .
F Nathan Gelsinger has joined his older brother Brayden at training camp. Brayden finished last season with the Blazers, suiting up for two playoff games. Brayden, 17, will be in main camp; Nathan, 15, is in the rookie camp as a free agent invite. . . .
D Connor Hamonic is the younger brother of Tri-City Americans D Justin Hamonic. Connor was selected by the Blazers in the seventh round of the 2011 WHL bantam draft. . . .
Veteran F J.C. Lipon is joined in camp by his younger brother Mitchell, who plays for the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . .
F Tyson McLellan is the son of former Swift Current Broncos GM/head coach Todd McLellan, who now is the head coach of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Tyson was listed by the Blazers at the conclusion of last season’s training camp. . . .
D Cameron Trott is the brother of Portland Winterhawks F Jason Trott. Cameron is a free agent invite. . . .
D MacKenzie Ferner is attending his third Blazers training camp. Ferner was selected by the Blazers in the eighth round of the 2010 draft. He is the son of Mark Ferner, a former Blazers defenceman who is heading into his second season as head coach of the Everett Silvertips.
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