By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Kamloops Blazers will play their 21st home-opener in Riverside Coliseum/Sport Mart Place/Interior Savings Centre tonight.
The Blazers are 13-5-0 with two ties in the first 20 of those, none of which was against the Kelowna Rockets, who supply the opposition tonight.
The teams will do it again Saturday night, this time in the Little Apple. And, despite the Kamloops-Kelowna rivalry, the Blazers have never been the other team for a Rockets’ home-opener.
Here are a few more tidbits related to opening weekend . . .
Last season, the Blazers opened their season by dropping a 1-0 decision to the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers finished 5-1-2 against the Rockets last season,including 3-1-0 at home. . . . The Rockets won the last two games in the season series. . . . Kamloops next plays at home on Oct. 5 against the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Next weekend, the Blazers will play a Friday night-Sunday afternoon double-dip in Victoria. . . .
A few Blazers will be sporting different numbers tonight than what they wore during the exhibition season. D Marek Hrbas has switched from No. 3 to 13. F Aaron Macklin dropped 13 and put on 32. F Rob Trzonkowski has gone from 32 to 37. He is believed to be the first player in franchise history to wear No. 37. . . . At the start of the preseason, F Chase Souto switched from 39 to 12. . . .
As expected, the Blazers will start sophomore Cole Cheveldave in goal. . . . The Blazers are expected to scratch D Ryan Rehill and D Jordan Thomson, along with F Mitch Friesen and F Brayden Gelsinger. All four are freshmen. . . . Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said that based on what he saw in practice this week, Macklin “has earned the right to play the opener.” Macklin will line up on the left wing with C Aspen Sterzer and Trzonkowski. . . . G Taran Kozun, who will back up Cheveldave, Macklin and D Josh Connolly will be the only freshmen in the Kamloops’ lineup. . . .
The Rockets are expected to open with Jordon Cooke in goal. He’s a 19-year-old from Leduc, Alta., who backed up Adam Brown last season. Brown has used up his major junior eligibility. . . . Last week, the Rockets claimed former Blazers F J.T. Barnett, 20, off waivers from the Everett Silvertips. Barnett has played one game with the Rockets, scoring three times in an 8-1 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans on Saturday. . . . Kelowna also acquired F Dylen McKinlay, 20, from the Kootenay Ice for a bantam draft pick. . . . The Rockets’ other 20-year-old is D Mitchell Chapman. . . .
Game time tonight is 7 o’clock.
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