The Kamloops Blazers leave today for Prince George, where they will play their third and fourth games of the WHL regular season on Friday and Saturday.
The season will kick into high gear after that.
The Blazers are 0-2-0 after dropping both ends of a weekend home-and-home series with the Kelowna Rockets. The Cougars, meanwhile, are 1-2-0 after a three-games-in-three-nights weekend through the U.S. Division.
The Cougars and Blazers will meet 10 times this season, with their final games — March 14 in Prince George and March 15 at Interior Savings Centre — bringing the regular season to an end for both teams.
That’s a long way away, but the Blazers’ schedule will pick up after these two games.
Kamloops will play 12 games in a 27-day span in October, including a stretch of nine games in 16 days between Oct. 4 and Oct. 19.
That will be par for the course for the rest of the season.
The busy stretch will begin Oct. 4, when the Victoria Royals visit ISC. The Cougars will come to town the next night, with the Tri-City Americans stopping by on Oct. 8.
The Blazers will remain busy throughout the season, with 12 games in November and 11 in December, despite a nine-day break for Christmas. Kamloops also will play 13 games in January and 13 more in a hectic February, before finishing the regular season with seven March games.
* * *
As of Wednesday, the Blazers still had 25 players on their roster, including 16 forwards.
Three players didn’t draw into the lineup on the weekend — forwards Eric Krienke, 17, and Devin Oakes, 18, and defenceman Connor Clouston, 17.
Oakes was suspended for the first game of the regular season after being assessed a check-to-the-head major in an exhibition game Sept. 6. He also missed two exhibition games because of the suspension.
* * *
The Lake Erie Monsters opened their AHL training camp and Colin Smith is one of 36 players on the roster.
Smith, 20, is eligible to return to the Blazers this season, although it is seen as unlikely.
Smith was reassigned to Lake Erie from the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche earlier this month.
Of the 36 players at the Monsters’ camp, 17 have returned from the 2012-13 season. The Avalanche still has 27 players on its NHL roster.
Lake Erie will play its first exhibition game against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday.
JC Lipon, another 20-year-old eligible to return to the Blazers, is in camp with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. The IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch are to play a three-game exhibition series for the Mary’s Cup starting today.
Also in camp with the IceCaps is Blair Riley, a Kamloops native who spent last season with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Riley, a 27-year-old forward, played in 74 games last season, picking up 15 points, including seven goals, and 165 penalty minutes.
* * *
The Rockets got a second bit of good news courtesy of the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils sent defenceman Damon Severson, 19, back to Kelowna on Wednesday.
Severson was a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL draft, and had been in camp with the Devils. He had 52 points, including 42 assists, with the Rockets in 2012-13.
The Devils sent Myles Bell back to the Rockets on Friday. Bell, 20, led Kelowna with 93 points in 2012-13, after which he was drafted in the sixth round.
The Rockets (2-0-0) are home to the Royals on Saturday.
* * *
The Kootenay Ice acquired forward Ryan Chynoweth from the Americans on Wednesday.
Cbynoweth, 18, had one assist in three games with Tri-City this season, after picking up four points in 37 games split between the Americans and Everett Silvertips last season.
The Ice sent a fifth-round pick in 2014 to Tri-City for the centre. Chynoweth is the son of Ice general manager Jeff Chynoweth.