|Left-winger Tim Bozon (15) of the Kamloops Blazers, here in action against|
the host Everett Silvertips in a game last season, says he plans on shooting
the puck more in the second half of this season.
(Christopher Mast / mastimages.com)
Daily News Sports EditorTim Bozon, who was born in St. Louis, has ties to France and calls Switzerland home, spent Christmas in Kamloops.
It wasn’t all eggnog and presents, though.
Bozon, an 18-year-old in his second WHL season with the Kamloops Blazers, did a lot of thinking about the season’s first 38 games.
“I had a tough month of November and a tough early December,” Bozon said after scoring three times as the Blazers defeated the visiting Vancouver Giants 9-5 on Saturday night. The teams play again tonight in Vancouver. “It feels good to score. I put my mind to shoot the puck more.
“I want to shoot the puck more.”
Bozon, who plays the left side on the WHL’s top offensive line, alongside centre Colin Smith and JC Lipon, came out of October with 14 goals in 17 games.
Bozon’s scoring touch went away in November, though, as he counted only two goals in 11 games. The early games in December weren’t kind, either, as he had just three goals in nine games when the Christmas break arrived.
“I stopped shooting the puck in November,” Bozon said. “I tried to make the cute play and pass to JC and Smitty. But the player I am, I have to shoot the puck.”
Bozon is the reigning Western Conference rookie of the year after a season in which he shot his way to 71 points, including 36 goals, in 71 games.
Getting back to that game plan has paid off for Bozon in the first two games after the Christmas break. He scored twice in a 7-3 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Thursday, then struck three times against the Giants.
Bozon, a third-round selection by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 2012 draft, now has 53 points, 24 of them goals, in 39 games.
While Bozon was thinking in Kamloops, Blazers right-winger Cole Ully was working hard in Calgary.
Ully, 17, had been diagnosed with mononucleosis late in November and really wanted to be ready when the schedule resumed after Christmas.
After going home, Ully rested for a week and then “started slowly in the gym.”
“The last two weeks I pushed it in the gym and skated almost twice a day,” Ully said after he, too, had scored three times in the victory over Vancouver. “I wanted to be ready for the second half . . . I knew we were missing guys and the team wanted me to be ready right when I got back.”
One of the symptoms of mononucleosis is a swollen spleen; Ully underwent an ultrasound examination and his spleen was found to be fine, after which he was cleared to play against the Rockets in Kelowna on Thursday.
“I felt I was playing pretty strong,” Ully said of the early portion of his season when he put up 11 points in his first 14 games. “But it’s tough to play when you’re feeling like that.”
Ully tried to play through a bout of tiredness and had just three points in 14 games before being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
“I had a pretty rough patch there when I was sick,” he said, “so it feels good to be 100 per cent and be able to contribute again.”
The Blazers expect to have F Dylan Willick, 20, in the lineup tonight for the first time since he broke his right ankle on Nov. 2. He has missed 21 games during which time the Blazers went 9-9-1, including two four-game losing streaks.
Willick took the warmup on Saturday but didn’t play.
While he was injured, Willick was named team captain.
Meanwhile, Kamloops D Tyler Hansen, who was ill and left with a minute left in Saturday’s second period, didn’t practice on Tuesday. He will be re-evaluated today before a decision is made as to whether he will play.
F Jordan DePape, who left the Blazers on Nov. 17 and underwent shoulder surgery on Nov. 26 in Winnipeg, has been told that he should be able to play by March 15.
“Healing is going well,” DePape told The Daily News last night. “There’s nothing from a medical standpoint that says it’s harmful for me to return.”
Dr. Peter MacDonald, an orthopedic surgeon, repaired interior and anterior labrum tears in DePape’s right shoulder. DePape said Dr. MacDonald told him he should be able to play “around” March 15 “if I decide.”
The Blazers have two 20-year-olds on their roster — Willick and F Brendan Ranford — so have room for one more.
The Blazers tried to fill that spot by acquiring F Charles Inglis from the Red Deer Rebels on Nov. 19, but they released him on Dec. 12.
With the WHL’s Jan. 10 trade deadline approaching, it remains to be seen whether the Blazers will make a move to acquire a 20-year-old or show patience and wait on DePape.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers next play at home on Friday when they meet the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Vancouver ended a four-game losing skid with an 8-4 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Sunday. . . . F Jakob Stukel, 15, is expected to make his WHL debut with the Giants tonight. Stukel, who has 24 points in 22 games with the major midget Valley West Hawks, was a second-round selection in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . The Vancouver Northwest Giants won the Mac’s midget tournament in Calgary last night, beating the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, 2-1, in double OT. F Jesse Shynkaruk of the Saskatoon Contacts was named the tournament MVP. Shynkaruk, a seventh-round pick by the Blazers in the 2011 bantam draft, had 13 points, including five goals, in six games. He has signed with the Blazers.
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