Marcus Beesley made quite an impression during a three-month span last winter.
The Kamloops Storm can't wait to see what he can do with a full season.
The Storm will open its KIJHL season on Friday, and Beesley will be carrying a big chunk of the baggage. The Prince George native will be the Storm's starting goaltender when the Spokane Braves visit McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre on Friday at 7 p.m.
Beesley, who will turn 20 in November, is one of the few returning players on the Storm roster, but probably its most important, especially after the way he played last season.
In 13 games with the Storm, he went 9-3-0 with a 2.49 GAA and .937 save percentage. He won his first seven starts, and was firmly ensconced in the team's starting role by the end of the season.
Now, he has a full season with which to work.
"I feel a little more comfortable now because I've been here for half a season," said Beesley, who joined the Storm in December after being released by the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings. "It's nice to be here at the start of the season, because you're with the boys throughout the whole process."
The Storm had an excellent season in 2011-12, going 35-16-1 to finish second in the Doug Birks Division. Despite finishing fourth overall in the 20-team KIJHL, Kamloops was shocked in the second round of playoffs by the Sicamous Eagles.
But the Storm has lost a few key elements off last season's squad - namely its head coach and its top line.
The head coaching position has been filled, with former assistant Brad Priestlay taking over from Geoff Smith, who stepped aside due to work commitments.
But replacing the top line - which comprised the Storm's top three scorers - will be tougher. Colten De Frias, with 95 points, was fourth in the league in scoring, with Chase Edwards (83 points) and Tyler Jackson (76) also in the top 20.
The trio accounted for 111 goals, nearly half of Kamloops' 236 scores for the season. Of the highest-scoring returning forwards, Blake Culbert (15 goals), Josh Rasmussen (8) and Briar McNaney (7) lead the way.
"I feel like we've got a good group of returning guys who will help fill the void, and we've got some new guys who are showing a lot of promise," Priestlay said. "We probably aren't going to have the 90-point guys; it's going to be based on teamwork and scoring by committee."
In the next breath, Priestlay extolled the virtues of his defence corps, which will be led by Daniel Buchanan, whose 42 points left him in the top-five in the KIJHL among blue-liners.
"I think we're going to be really strong defensively," Priestlay said. "We're going over our defensive zone coverage right now, and you can't win hockey games without having a good solid defence.
"We're not going to be a run-and-gun type team, so we want to play solid defence, take care of our zone and the scoring opportunities will come from that."
Beesley also is excited about the defence, which will include the likes of veterans Tyson Harvey, Matt Dimor and Zach Tjader.
"We don't have the offensive firepower we had last season, but our defensive game is a lot stronger," said the goaltender. "Everybody is buying in on the defensive side of things.
"Our defence will definitely win us some hockey games."
Kamloops is in the five-team Birks Division with the Revelstoke Grizzlies, Sicamous Eagles, North Okanagan Knights and Chase Heat, with each team to play 52 regular-season games.
The Storm will hit the highway lots in the early-going, with 18 of its first 29 games scheduled for the road.
Kamloops is feeling confident after going 4-1 during the preseason, including a 4-3 victory over the visiting Golden Rockets on Sunday. That came on the heels of a 9-0 thumping courtesy of the Posse in Princeton on Saturday.
"It's a huge character-builder, for myself too, to be able to come back from that," Priestlay said. "You learn stuff through every game, whether you win or lose.
"You try to take positives out of that and move forward."
JUST NOTES: F Riley Nash, whose NHL rights belong to the Carolina Hurricanes, was out practising with the Storm on Wednesday. . . . The Storm's other goaltender is Ty Hamer-Jackson, after it traded G Wade Moyls to the Osoyoos Coyotes earlier this week. . . . F Ryan Skinner, who has spent the last three seasons patrolling the blue-line for the Storm, has moved up to forward. He had 26 points, 22 of them assists, last season.