By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
After a lengthy playing career, Brad Priestlay is in his first season as a head coach.
He already has the language down pat.
Priestlay, the head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm, has lost the Kootenay International league's top three scorers to graduation. Colten DeFrias, Chase Edwards and Tyler Jackson accounted for 111 of the 236 goals the Storm scored last season.
So where will the goals come from this time around?
“I think it's going to be more of a score-by-committee,” Priestlay said Wednesday night. “Obviously, losing those three top guys is big for any team. I feel with the returning guys and the guys coming in, everybody is going to have a bigger role this season.
“That's where guys who didn't have such a big role last season get a chance to step up and see what they can do.”
Priestlay, 28, has been an assistant coach with the Storm each of the previous two seasons. That move came after a playing career that included four seasons in the WHL and five with the Lakehead University Thunderwolves in Thunder Bay.
He has taken over as head coach of the Storm from Geoff Smith, who stepped aside because of work commitments.
Priestlay and the Storm are into their third day of training camp at Brock Arena and the new coach said he likes what he has seen.
“It's shaping up to be a good team,” he said. “We've got a good mix of returning guys and new guys at camp. It's showing a lot of promise. I think we'll be very competitive, much like we were last season.”
Last season, the Storm finished 35-10-1-6, good for second place in the Doug Birks Division, just one point behind the pennant-winning Revelstoke Grizzlies. The Storm then bowed out in the second round of playoffs, losing in seven games to the Sicamous Eagles.
Priestlay said he's looking for the likes of Blake Culbert, Josh Rasmussen and Briar McNaney to lead the way up front, with Daniel Buchanan and Ryan Skinner doing the same from the back end.
Culbert, who suffered a knee injury late last season, finished with 15 goals, while Rasmussen had eight and McNaney had seven.
Buchanan, however, put up 42 points from the blue-line, while Skinner had 26.
Of course, with WHL and junior A teams just into their training camps, the pipeline of players hasn't really opened up.
“The Western league cuts their guys and the junior A cuts their guys and we get the rest of them,” Priestlay explains. “But as of right now I don't really see a whole lot of change.
“I think by the time the end of exhibition season rolls around we should have a general idea of who we're going to have and what kind of roster we'll have for the home opener.”
The Storm opens its exhibition season on Saturday against the host Chase Heat. Game time at the Art Holding Memorial Arena is 7 p.m.
The regular season is to open Sept. 14 with the Spokane Braves here. The new head coach can hardly wait.
“I'm very happy with the way things are going,” he said. “The tempo has been good and I'm excited to get into some exhibition game and get the season underway.”
JUST NOTES: Veteran Marcus Beesley, 20, is the Storm's No. 1 goaltender. He was 9-3 with a 2.49 GAA last season. . . . The Storm plays its first home exhibition game on Tuesday against the Princeton Posse. Game time at Brock Arena will be 7:30 p.m. . . . A game scheduled for Sept. 9 between the Golden Rockets and the Storm at Brock Arena has been cancelled. . . . Sophomore D Tyson Harvey, 17, hasn't been feeling well and was to see a doctor yesterday. For now, he is being kept away from teammates. . . . The Storm is on the ice today, 8 a.m. to noon, at Brock Arena, but won't skate Friday.
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