Kamloops Blazers claim RE/MAX Cup as 2020-21 WHL B.C. Division Champions – Kamloops Blazers
Calgary, Alta. – The Kamloops Blazers are back-to-back B.C. Division Champions, and for the first time ever, recipients of the RE/MAX Cup.
The RE/MAX Cup was created for the 2020-21 WHL Regular Season, presented to the Champion of the WHL RE/MAX Hub Centres, which played host to the WHL’s B.C. Division in Kamloops and Kelowna, B.C.
The presentation of the RE/MAX Cup marks the conclusion of an unprecedented campaign in the B.C. Division, which included rigorous protocols to ensure the health and safety of all players, staff and officials involved. As a result of ongoing testing and diligent attention to these protocols, the B.C. Division schedule was completed with minimal interruptions from March 26 through May 12.
“The WHL was very fortunate to have the opportunity to deliver a season during this pandemic and we appreciate the support we received from the BC Government and BC health authorities to make this happen,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Our players and team staff, along with our officials, are to be commended for complying fully with our health and safety protocols, which proved to be very effective in keeping our communities safe and allowing us to achieve our objective of delivering another competitive season.
“In such a unique and challenging season as this, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of our teams and we are pleased to present the Kamloops Blazers with the RE/MAX Cup. Many thanks to our longstanding corporate partner RE/MAX of Western Canada for serving as the official title partner for the RE/MAX Hub Centres and making this all possible.”
With a record of 18-4-0-0 and 36 points, the Kamloops Blazers rank atop the B.C. Division. No team in the B.C. Division scored more than the Blazers, who racked up 87 goals for in 22 games (3.95 goals per game). On the defensive side, the Blazers were tough to beat, allowing a mere 51 goals against in 22 games (2.32 goals against per game).
This represents the second consecutive B.C. Division title for the Blazers, who also finished atop the division in 2019-20 with a record of 41-18-3-1 (86 points).
The Blazers defeated every other team in the B.C. Division at least once throughout the campaign. The high-octane offense was powered by Calgary Flames prospect Connor Zary, who finished second in team scoring with 24 points (6G-18A) in only 15 games. With Zary out of the lineup, veteran forward Josh Pillar took a leading role down the stretch and ultimately finished atop the Blazers scoring charts with 29 points (11G-18A) in 22 games.
Zary, a 19-year-old product of Saskatoon, Sask., was selected by the Flames in the first round (24th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft. He has been a sparkplug for the Blazers since 2017-18 campaign after being selected in the second round (37th overall) of the 2016 WHL Draft.
Pillar, a 19-year-old product of Warman, Sask., has put his best foot forward after being passed over at the 2020 NHL Draft. He has been a mainstay for the Blazers since the 2018-19 season after being selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 2017 WHL Draft.
Excitement is high in Kamloops with the emergence of hometown favourite Logan Stankoven, who chipped in with 10 points (7G-3A) in six games before leaving the RE/MAX Hub Centres to join Canada en route to winning gold at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championship in Texas. The 18-year-old forward has been electric since making his WHL debut and is set to hear his name called early in the 2021 NHL Draft this summer
Beyond Stankoven, the pool of B.C. talent is overflowing in Kamloops, with the likes of forwards Matthew Seminoff (Coquitlam), Caedan Bankier (Surrey), Connor Levis (Vancouver), Fraser Minten (Vancouver), and Dylan Sydor (Kamloops), and defencemen Sean Strange (Saanich), Kaden Hammell (Langley), Ethan Brandwood (Victoria), and Mats Lindgren (North Vancouver), along with goaltender Dylan Garand (Victoria), all factoring into the Club’s success.
On the blueline, Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Quinn Schmiemann served as a veteran anchor, making his presence felt at both ends of the rink. A 20-year-old product of Wilcox, Sask., the 6-foot-2, 199-pound blueliner registered 17 points (2G-15A) and maintained a plus-14 rating through 22 games.
Between the pipes, it was the aforementioned Garand – a prospect of the New York Rangers – once again providing a calm and steady energy. The 18-year-old puckstopper went 15-3-0-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 2020-21.
Behind the bench, Shaun Clouston got the most out of his players in his second year in Kamloops, while third-year General Manager Matt Bardsley’s excellent work in the drafting and recruitment of talent continues to shine.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.
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