Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blazers preparing for another hectic weekend

By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
After unwinding for a couple of days, the Kamloops Blazers, fresh off a 5-0-0 road trip and riding a 10-game WHL winning streak, will get their noses back to the grindstone today.
The Blazers played five games in seven days on their swing into the Central Division. They now are preparing to play three games in three nights and four in six nights.
The Brandon Wheat Kings will be at Interior Savings Centre on Friday night, with the Victoria Royals here on Saturday. The Blazers then will visit the Seattle Thunderbirds on Sunday and head coach Mark Ferner’s Everett Silvertips on Tuesday.
“We’re good to go,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said Tuesday. “We’ve got a tough schedule again. That’s why we gave them a little bit of time this week. We might as well try to save as much energy as we can.”
With right-winger Jordan DePape (shoulder) having received the green light after a six-game absence, it should be all hands on deck come Friday. DePape skated with assistant coach Ed Patterson yesterday and is to return to full practise today.
Left-winger Chase Souto, a healthy scratch for the last two games, also is expected back in the lineup.
“He has to realize what he needs to do on a consistent basis,” Charron said of Souto, a third-year skater who has three points in nine games. “Hopefully, he understands now. He’s a capable young man. I respect his skill level and everything but he has to do it our way.
“Once he buys into that and plays the way he can, I think he’ll give us some dividends.”
The Blazers take a 12-0-1 record into the weekend. They are the only one of the CHL’s 60 teams not to have lost in regulation time.
The 10-game winning streak is the franchise’s longest since 1998-99 and just three off the franchise record (1986-87, 1989-90).
When a team gets on a roll like this, especially early in the season, the number can sometimes be overwhelming.
For example, the Blazers’ 24-man roster includes four of the WHL’s five leading scorers — linemates JC Lipon (32 points), Colin Smith (28), Tim Bozon (21) and left-winger Brendan Ranford also at 21.
Smith also is riding a 13-game point streak. He is the only player in the WHL to have at least one point in each of his team’s games this season.
Goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who is expected to start against Brandon, is 8-0-0 and leads the WHL with a 2.06 GAA. Only Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans, who is 9-3-2, has more victories than does Cheveldave.
JUST NOTES: Smith is the WHL’s player of the week after picking up 10 points, including seven assists, in four games. Lipon won it each of the previous two weeks. . . . The CHL’s weekly rankings will be released today and the Blazers will be No. 1 for a second straight week. . . . D Austin Madaisky, 20, remains with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. He has signed with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets but is eligible to return to the Blazers. After having been a healthy scratch through the Falcons’ first four games, he should get into the lineup this weekend as Springfield, which continues to carry 10 defencemen, plays three games in three days. . . . F Ryan Hanes, who was released by the Blazers in August as they worked to get down to three 20-year-olds, has rediscovered his offensive touch with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. He had a goal and four assists in a 9-5 victory over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters on Sunday and is tied for fourth in the BCHL points derby, with 18 in 13 games. Last season, he had 22 points in 55 games with the Blazers.

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