Regular season WHL hockey is only hours away. Hope springs eternal, everybody’s 0-0 and every other sports cliché is ready to roll as the Kamloops Blazers prepare to open the 2019-20 campaign tonight versus Spokane.
The man who will be calling all the action again this year for the Blazers is Jon Keen, and he joined Q101 to look ahead at the season to come.
Last season, the Blazers went on a run straight out of a movie plot to make the playoffs through a do-or-die tiebreaker. They’ve followed up that hot play, with a perfect preseason record, begging the question, what’s the feeling around the club?
“I think it’s cautious optimism based on the fact it was an undefeated preseason. There’s no doubt that you can’t put much stock in the preseason. The last time the Blazers went undefeated in the preseason was 2012 and they started that year 16-0-0-1, their best start in franchise history,” said Keen.
“Tempered with some of the optimism is the fact that it’s going to be a really tough BC Division this year,” added Keen.
Keen pointed to the Vancouver Giants being a goal away from the Championship last year, and the Kelowna Rockets loading up, as they host the 2020 Memorial Cup.
Turnover, as per usual in junior hockey, was a key factor for Kamloops, departing was their Captain and starting goalie, and in their place is a long list of rookies and three 16-year-olds.
“I don’t want to put too much on a rookie joining the team, but it seems as though Logan Stankoven could be poised for a great 16-year-old season, how great? We'll see. It’s awful tough for a 16-year-old to make an impact at this level. But he led the CHL in preseason scoring with eight goals and seven assists,” said Keen.
The home opener may be only hours away, but the Blazers could already be looking to wheel and deal to acquire a 20-year-old. WHL teams are only allowed to carry three 20-year-olds on their roster, and most teams are still over the limit, while the Blazers have only two.
Puck drops for the Blazer tonight at 7 PM.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt