Wednesday April 16, 2014






Ully ready to be go-to guy in WHL

Like Facebook, Twitter and Barack Obama, Cole Ully's time is now.

Ully, 18, is preparing for his third WHL season with the Kamloops Blazers and he has, indeed, shown great improvement during his time here.

NHL scouts noticed, too, because UIly, who is from Calgary, was selected by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round of the NHL's 2013 draft. As a result, he already has had two tastes of the pro game, one at a development camp in Frisco, Texas, in July, and last week with the Dallas team at the annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich.

"The guys are bigger there and that makes a difference," the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Ully said after practice at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday. "The skill margin between guys is a lot smaller . . . everyone can play so it comes down to compete more."

Ully's two appearances with the Stars also has shown him one other thing.

"It's a lot different when guys are playing for jobs and their (livelihood) and some have families . . . it's different than playing for yourself," he said.

As Ully added, he has learned "what it takes to be there."

Just like he has learned over time what it takes to play in the WHL.

A second-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft, Ully had 20 points in 55 games as a freshman (2011-12) and then more than doubled that to 50 points, including 22 goals, in 62 games last season.

Having had that taste of the high life, he's now looking for more.

"Expectations are high but I'm happy with where I am now and looking to really improve on last season," he said. "Expectations from others and myself are a lot higher."

Blazers head coach Dave Hunchak agreed.

"He's an offensive player and we are going to expect him to produce this season," Hunchak said. "He has tremendous skill and great vision. He's a drafted guy and we expect him to produce.

"It's his time now."

Having played in the shadows for much of the last two seasons, Ully can expect more playing time in all situations this season.

"His role is going to be expanded even more now," Hunchak said. "He's a guy we're going to rely on to put the puck in the net for us.

"He'll also play both special teams. He's an intelligent player . . . he can play on the power play, he can kill penalties."

All of which is music to Ully's ears.

"It feels good," he said. "It's what every player wants . . . the trust from your teammates and coaches that you can do it and that you're a guy they need every night.

"It's different for me this season, being a top guy."

JUST NOTES: Kamloops (1-3) concludes its exhibition season in Prince George against the Cougars (4-0) on Saturday. . . . The Blazers open the regular season against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Sept. 20. . . . F Matt Needham was on the ice yesterday but didn't take part in battle drills as the Blazers practised at Interior Savings Centre. He's day-to-day with what Hunchak called a "burner" but should play in the season-opener. . . . The WHL has suspended Blazers F Devin Oakes for three games after he took a checking-to-the-head penalty in Friday's 4-0 loss to the visiting Rockets. He will be eligible to return for the second game of the regular season. . . .

F Jermaine Loewen, a third-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft, has signed with the Blazers. Loewen, from Arborg, Man., had 55 points in 31 games with the bantam AAA Interlake Lightning last season. . . . G Liam McLeod of Kamloops, who was released by the Blazers on Aug. 28, has seized he backup role with the BCHL's Nanaimo Clippers. McLeod, 17, is backing up Jayson Argue, 20, who was acquired prior to last season from the MJHL's Swan Valley Stampeders where he was a finalist for the CJHL player-of-the-year award in 2011-12. . . .

Prince George has acquired D Peter Kosterman, 20, from the Calgary Hitmen for a fourth-round selection in the 2014 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2015. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Kosterman, who is from Calgary, was the 19th overall selection in the 2008 bantam draft. He has played 234 regular-season games with the Hitmen. He his heading into his fifth WHL season.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

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