Daily News Sports Editor
Colin Smith heard the whispers last season.
Even while enjoying the best of his three seasons with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, even while becoming one of the league’s elite players, he heard them.
“A lot of people were saying I wasn’t quick enough and things like that,” Smith said Monday following the final scrimmage of training camp at Interior Savings Centre. “I wanted to get better, quite simply, so I did a lot of work. I tried to revamp my skating a bit and to get stronger.”
“I feel pretty good,” the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Smith said. “This probably was one of the most useful summers I’ve had.”
Smith, who last season had career highs in goals (35), assists (50) and points (85), looked good in that final scrimmage, scoring once and setting up another as Team Orange dumped Team White, 5-1. It is safe to say that he was the best player on the ice.
“It’s nice to get back,” he said. “You can only train for so long. Eventually you want to get on the ice.”
Smith, 19, got something of a boost when the Colorado Avalanche selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2012 draft in June. However, the way he sees it, he learned more a year earlier when he didn’t get drafted.
“I learned not to get so sucked into it . . . and to focus on what I needed to do,” he explained. “I thought I did that last season and so did everyone. We took some strides forward.”
But, he added, getting drafted “was nice at the time. It was nice to share it with everyone who helped me along the way, and it’s obviously an honour to get picked.”
All of that is in the past, though, as the focus has shifted to the approaching season. Smith was here through two seasons of so-so hockey, which means he really enjoyed being part of last spring’s run to the top of the B.C. Division and into the second round of playoffs.
“The standards have been raised and everyone knows that coming in,” he said. “In the fitness testing, everyone did well. Everyone’s ready. Everyone learned a lot.”
The bar, he said, has been raised, especially after Game 6 of that second-round series with the Portland Winterhawks when the Blazers, down 5-2 in the third period at home, rallied for a 7-6 victory. That allowed the Blazers, who had lost the first three games of the series, to force a Game 7, which they lost, 2-0.
“Playing in that Game 6,” Smith said, “I think it was a turning point. Everyone realizes that’s where we want to be. Players, fans, everybody as an organization . . . that’s where you want to be, playing in those big games.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers trimmed their roster to 46 after yesterday’s final scrimmage. . . . Two players left that last scrimmage with minor injuries. LW Brendan Ranford was sent to a dentist after chipping a tooth, while D Jordan Thomson needed a handful of stitches to close a cut just below his lower lip. . . . F Dylan Willick (lower body) didn’t scrimmage and won’t play in tonight’s Blue-White game. He hopes to return to practice on Wednesday and to be in the lineup Thursday against the visiting Victoria Royals. . . . D Tyler Hansen and D Austin Madaisky, both veterans, will sit out tonight to allow younger players into the lineup. . . . Game time tonight and Thursday, at ISC, is 7 o’clock. . . .
D Kevin Davis of Kamloops, the 11th overall pick in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft, is in camp with the Everett Silvertips and will see game action during a weekend tournament in Everett. At 15, he isn’t old enough to make a WHL roster this season. . . . Troy Trombley, 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, is one of four goaltenders left in Everett’s camp. Trombley, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., was selected by the Blazers in the third round of the 2009 draft. He later signed with the Blazers and got into one game with them in 2010-11. He was in camp with them a year ago but it didn’t work out. . . .
Former Blazers F Kris Hogg (2002-05), who is from Sicamous, has signed to play with the Fife Flyers of Great Britain’s Elite League. Hogg played last season with the Central league’s Missouri Mavericks, picking up 24 points, including 13 goals, in 50 games. He played the previous four seasons at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
Main Training Camp Roster (46)
(x – veteran; y – injured; year of birth in parentheses)
Goal (4) — x-Cole Cheveldave (93), Calgary; Cole Kehler (97), Altona, Man.; Taran Kozun (94), Nipawin, Sask.; Braden Krogfoss (95), Cloverdale.
Defence (16) — x-Tyler Bell (94), Regina; Connor Clouston (96), Medicine Hat; Josh Connolly (95), Prince George; x-Landon Cross (94), Brandon; Mackenzie Ferner (95), Vernon; Jaiden Focht (96), Saskatoon; x-Brady Gaudet (94), Redvers, Sask.; Connor Hamonic (96), Winnipeg; x-Tyler Hansen (93), Magrath, Alta; x-Marek Hrbas (93), Plzen, Czech Republic; Riley Hummitsch (96), Anaheim Hills, Calif.; x-Austin Madaisky (92), Surrey; Cole McCaskill (96), Kamloops; Cameron Reagan (97), Sherwood Park, Alta.; Ryan Rehill (95), Edmonton; Jordan Thomson (96), Wawanesa, Man.
Forwards (26) — x-Brock Balson (93), Kamloops; x-Tim Bozon (94), Lugano, Switzerland; Nick Chyzowski (97), Kamloops; x-Jordan DePape (92), Winnipeg; Rylan Freed (96), Melfort, Sask.; Mitch Friesen (96), Surrey; Charlie Gawlicki (97), Edmonton; Brayden Gelsinger (95), Regina; Jayden Halbgewachs (97), Emerald Park, Sask.; Eric Krienke (96), Calgary; x-J.C. Lipon (93), Regina; Mitchell Lipon (96), Regina; Aaron Macklin (95), High River, Alta.; Tyson McLellan (96), San Jose, Calif.; Kyler Nachtigall (96), Calgary; x-Matt Needham (95), Penticton; y-Devin Oakes (95), Prince Rupert; x-Brendan Ranford (92), Edmonton; Jesse Shynkaruk (96), Saskatoon; x-Colin Smith (93), Edmonton; x-Chase Souto (94), Yorba Linda, Calif.; x-Aspen Sterzer (94), Canal Flats; Evan Tordiff (96), Fort Smith, NWT; x-Rob Trzonkowski (94), Calgary; x-Cole Ully (95), Calgary; xy-Dylan Willick (92), Prince George.
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