View Full Version : the Captian is back

01-06-2006, 06:05 PM
Blazers welcome back their captain www.kamloopsnews.ca
by Gregg Drinnan

The WHL’s trading deadline doesn’t arrive until Tuesday and the Kamloops Blazers have yet to get into the swing of things.

But you’ll have to excuse them if they feel like they made a trade today, one that brought them a centre who just might provide them with about a point a game.

That’s because centre Reid Jorgensen, who has missed the last 17 games with a broken jaw, is poised to return to the lineup tonight against the Red Deer Rebels. Game time at the Interior Savings Centre is 7 o’clock.

“It’s like Christmas,” Dean Clark, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, said after Thursday’s practice.

Without Jorgensen, who was injured on Nov. 12 during a 6-1 loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants, the Blazers went 6-8-1-2 and lost their head coach when Mark Ferner was fired on Dec. 8.

Jorgensen has 19 points, including 11 goals, in 24 games and is a team-leading plus-10. Despite his prolonged absence, his point total trails only left-winger Ashton Rome (41) and centre T.J. Mulock (22) on the Blazers’ roster.

But Jorgensen’s presence means more than points to the Blazers. He is their captain — Rome wore the C in his absence — and he is perhaps the WHL’s premier penalty killer.

Jorgensen will skate between Rome and freshman Travis Dunstall tonight, while Mulock will have Terrance Delaronde, who has been terrific since the Christmas break, and Brock Nixon on his wings.

“We’ve been playing hard,” said Jorgensen, who was behind the bench with Clark for the club’s last four games. “We did a lot of good things. We panicked at times, but I think that’s due to our inconsistency. We don’t have a lot of confidence at times.”

Still, Jorgensen, who is in his fourth season here, said things are looking up.

“It’s going in the right direction,” he said. “You can see it from behind the bench. Guys really want to … on the ice we’re doing things the right way, the way we should be doing them.”

Despite having a broken jaw, Jorgensen hasn’t had weight problems. He said he was 184 pounds when he was injured, slid to 175 while he was hurt and now is back to 182.

And now that he has medical clearance to return, he is eager to get back into action.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “It’s one of those things. I can’t sit back and wait; then I’m no good to the team. The key is to keep my shifts short and not get tired. When you try to do too much and you’re tired, then you’re in trouble.”

He also expects that it will take one hit to get him back to feeling himself.

“If I try to protect myself too much I’m more likely to get hurt,” he said. “I may not hurt my jaw but it may be something else. You’ve got to be smart about it … I’m not going to go head-first into a situation.”

Jorgensen added that he is quite looking forward to playing on a line with Dunstall, who was the Blazers’ first pick, 16th overall, in the 2004 bantam draft.

“He’s been playing real well,” Jorgensen said of Dunstall, who is coming off his first two-point game. “He came back after Christmas and has been put in positions to succeed and has done really well. Hopefully, we can get something going and contribute offensively.”

Dunstall, who has two goals and two assists over his last four games, has been able to put aside the disappointment of not being selected to Team Pacific for the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.

“I was pretty disappointed,” he said. “But I can’t worry about it now. My main focus is here.”

While Dunstall may not have gotten to play for Team Pacific, he has found his role with the Blazers changing, as has that of centre C.J. Stretch, the club’s other 16-year-old forward.

“The reason we’ve been playing as well as we have is that C.J. and Travis have been terrific and that has allowed us to spread our offence around,” Clark said. “These guys stepping up and playing as well as they have has allowed us to be as good as we have.”

As Dunstall has played better, he has moved up the depth chart.

“I’ve been playing with Rome and Mulock lately and they’ve helped a lot,” Dunstall said. “I feel a lot more comfortable. And with the older guys there to help me and show me the way, it has made it a lot easier.”

Dunstall said Rome has been especially good in “helping me on the ice and in practice, giving me little pointers here and there.”

And now the kid is going to play on a line with the captain.

“Reid means a lot. We definitely missed him,” Dunstall said. “He’ll help us. He brings hard work and his leadership is great. Everyone can depend on him and look up to him.”

As for playing on a line with Jorgensen, Dunstall said: “That should be good. It should be interesting. Hopefully, I can get him the puck and help him get some goals.”

• • •

Czech RW Martin Hanzal, 18, may end up in the WHL, perhaps with the Blazers.

Clark admitted Thursday that he has spoken with Brent Parker, the general manager of the Regina Pats, who hold Hanzal’s rights. The Pats selected him with the 41st pick of the 2004 CHL import draft. Hanzal, 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds, chose to play at home and is on the Pats’ suspended list.

However, Hanzal, who has yet to sign with Phoenix, apparently has indicated that he now is interested in playing over here.

As Clark said, though, “There are still quite a few unknowns.”

Hanzal, who was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes with the 17th pick of the NHL’s 2005 entry draft, had two assists in six games at the World Junior Championship. He was dressed on Monday but didn’t see the ice during the Czech’s 2-1 quarterfinal loss to the U.S.

• • •

JUST NOTES: Kamloops C Kevin Hayman (wrist) should return to the lineup on Jan. 13 when the Kootenay Ice visit the ATM … G Riley Wall of the major midget Thompson Blazers was the second goaltender on the ice during Thursday’s practice … Stretch will open tonight between Ray Macias and Moises Gutierrez on the All-American line, with the other unit featuring Brady Mason between Scott Skrudland and Matt Kassian … WHL teams have totalled 56 shutouts, the fourth-highest single-season total in WHL history.