Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blazers add Grist to their defence mill

Sam Grist (3), here being pressured by Kohl Baum of the Everett Silvertips
is the newest member of the Kamloops Blazers.

(Christopher Mast /
Daily News Sports Editor

The Kamloops Blazers added some size and experience to their back end on Tuesday, acquiring Sam Grist from the Tri-City Americans for a pair of WHL bantam draft picks.
Grist, 19, is from North Saanich and cost the Blazers a third-round selection in the 2013 draft and a fifth-rounder in 2014. He has played 119 regular-season games over three seasons, all of them with the Americans.
“He’s a big body, more a stay-at-home type of guy,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said after yesterday’s practice at Interior Savings Centre. “He can certainly handle himself physically.”
Grist wasn’t selected in the WHL draft. Terry Bangen, then the Americans’ director of player personnel, watched him with Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna and Tri-City placed him on its protected list. Grist spent 2009-10 with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies and then joined the Americans.
Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, said Grist became available because some of the team’s younger defencemen have shown they can play at this level.
The acquisition of Grist leaves the Blazers with 25 players on their roster, including nine defencemen. That number doesn’t include Austin Madaisky, 20, who is one of 10 defencemen on the roster of the AHL’s Springfield, Mass., Falcons.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Grist has 15 points and 207 penalty minutes in his two-plus seasons. Last season, in 57 games, he had 10 points and 94 penalty minutes.
He becomes the third 19-year-old defenceman with Kamloops, joining Tyler Hansen and Marek Hrbas. Grist combines with Hansen to give the Blazers two defencemen who are physical and familiar with playing a shutdown role against the opposition’s top line.
“We have a lot of skill back there,” Charron said of his defencemen. “We need size and we need people to be more stay-at-home type of players. He fits the bill for what we need right now.
“When you have guys like him and Hansen being able to be out there, we’ve got a couple of big bodies who can fill certain roles within our team.”
Whether Grist plays tonight against the visiting Victoria Royals wasn’t certain yesterday.
“I’m not sure I want to put him in,” Charron said. “He’s just coming off an injury. He’s been cleared by the doctors. I won’t put any pressure on him to be here.”
If Grist doesn’t play tonight, he almost certainly will suit up Friday against the visiting Spokane Chiefs.
The Royals (6-2-0) go into tonight in first place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the Blazers (5-0-1). They split two games in Victoria on Sept. 28 and 30, the Royals winning 4-3 in a shootout and the Blazers posting a 3-0 shutout.
The Americans made two other deals  yesterday.
They sent F Jordan Messier, 20, to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a fourth-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft. That got Tri-City down to the maximum of three 20-year-olds — D Drydn Dowd, F Justin Feser and F Jesse Mychan.
Messier had 44 points, including 16 goals, in 66 games last season. His brother, Marcus, 18, also plays for the Americans.
The Americans also acquired F Ryan Chynoweth, 17, from the Everett Silvertips for a conditional 2014 fifth round bantam draft pick. Chynoweth, the son of Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, had asked Everett to trade him.
He was the 24th overall selection in the 2010 bantam draft, but wasn’t getting much playing time in Everett. Last season, he had eight points in 66 games.
The Royals had an interesting weekend, one that included an own goal and a late-game penalty shot.
On Saturday, Victoria was holding a 1-0 lead over host Tri-City and looking at a power play as there was a delayed penalty about to be called on Americans D Zach Yuen.
With G Jared Rathjen on the bench for the extra attacker, Victoria F Jamie Crooks had the puck behind the Tri-City net, when he attempted a pass to the point. Except there wasn’t anyone there and the puck went down the ice and into the empty net.
The Royals ended up winning the game 4-3 on a shootout goal by F Logan Nelson, the same player who beat the Blazers 4-3 in a shootout on Sept. 28.
In Vancouver on Sunday, the Royals were clinging to a 2-1 lead at 18:29 of the third period when a Victoria player was spotted intentionally knocking the net off its moorings. The home team was awarded a penalty shot but F Cain Franson wasn’t able to beat G Patrik Polivka.
“You make your own breaks,” Royals general manager Cam Hope told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “Those things are some of the little pieces of adversity we’ve had to overcome.”
JUST NOTES: Game time tonight is 7 o’clock. . . . The Blazers will start G Cole Cheveldave tonight. He blanked the Royals 3-0 on Sept. 30. . . . Kamloops F JC Lipon was saluted as the CHL’s player of the week yesterday. He had seven points in two weekend victories. Lipon sat out the last half of yesterday’s practice with an undisclosed problem but is expected to play tonight. . . . Springfield is to open the AHL season on Saturday against the visiting St. John’s IceCaps.

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