Me and my Kamloops

Kamloops Blazers – Kamloops Blazers

Kamloops Blazers – Kamloops Blazers

March 22, 2021 at 1:17 pm  Kamloops Blazers, Sports

As the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season comes to fruition, we preview each of the Clubs that will compete in an unprecedented divisional format featuring a 24-game schedule.

General Manager: Matt Bardsley
Head Coach: Shaun Clouston
2019-20 Record: 41-18-3-1, 86 points
2019-20 Divisional Finish: First Place (B.C.)
2019-20 Top Scorers: RW Zane Franklin (29-62–91); C Connor Zary (38-48–86); LW Orrin Centazzo (44-37–81)

2020-21 – 20-year-olds: LW Orrin Centazzo (44-37–81); D Sean Strange (3-18–21); D Montana Onyebuchi (7-13–20)
2020-21 – Season Opener: Friday, March 26 – Vancouver Giants at Kamloops Blazers

Last Game: Tuesday, March 10, 2020 – Blazers (0) at Chiefs (3)

Overview: Heading into the 2019-20 campaign, the last time the Kamloops Blazers won the B.C. Division was during the 2011-12 season. Under new head coach Shaun Clouston, an impressive 41 wins, 13 more than the previous season in five fewer games, changed that and the Blazers are showing no signs of slowing down.

Even with departures of key players like captain and leading scorer Zane Franklin as well as point-per-game player Ryan Hughes, the Blazers are primed to be a force in the B.C. Hub this season.

The Blazers under General Manager Matt Bardsley have built a lineup loaded with NHL talent including first round NHL pick Connor Zary, World Junior goaltender Dylan Garand and hometown star and top prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft Logan Stankoven. Include 2019 WHL Draft first round picks Mats Lindgren and Connor Levis to the mix and the future looks just as good as the present.

Key Players: Driving the bus for the Blazers this year will be Connor Zary, a 2020 first-round pick (24th overall) of the Calgary Flames. Zary played for Canada’s World Junior Team, signed his entry-level contract with the Flames, and put up seven points in nine games for the AHL’s Stockton Heat since his last WHL game over a year ago.

Joining Zary up front is his partner in crime, Orrin Centazzo, who enters his final season of junior hockey. The power-play specialist found the back of the net 44 times last season and was part of the second best power-play unit in the WHL, which converted on 26.7 per cent of its chances.

Luckily for the Blazers if Zary and Centazzo are having an off night, hometown sniper Logan Stankoven knows how to find the back of the net. Scoring 29 goals as a 16-year-old last season, the sophomore forward wants to show NHL Clubs what he can do as he prepares for the 2021 NHL Draft.

Guarding the blue paint, Dylan Garand also heard his name called at the 2020 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers (fourth round, 103rd) after a breakout season of his own. On top of winning silver at World Juniors, Garand saw action in two AHL games with the Hartford Wolf Pack. The 2019-20 WHL Scholastic Player of the Year will look to use his AHL and World Juniors experience to help lead Kamloops to another Division title.

Rounding out the talented Blazers roster is Tampa Bay sixth-round pick Quinn Schmiemann. The strong puck-handling defenceman will see a major increase in responsibility with the departure of Max Martin. Schmiemann and 16-year-old defenceman Mats Lindgren, the seventh overall selection at the 2019 WHL Draft, will compete for time on the power play once the puck drops in the hub.

Tidbits: Last season Kamloops led the WHL in goals, having two players in the top five for regulation/power-play points and goals. This will be Shaun Clouston’s second season behind the bench for the Blazers after a 16-year stint with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The longtime WHL veteran coach enters this season with 432 wins under his belt, putting him in the top three amongst active coaches.

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