Friday April 18, 2014

Harrison gets to see life on the other side

Friday night will be a bit different than the average game night for Luke Harrison.

When he gets to the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, he won't be heading into the same dressing room he has visited nearly every day for the last three seasons, instead walking down the hall to the visitors' room. He won't don a Victoria Royals jersey, instead putting on the blue and orange of the Kamloops Blazers. He'll follow his new teammates to the visitors' bench, rather than the home side, where he has stood to listen to the national anthem for every home game of his WHL career.

For the first time Friday, the 18-year-old West Kelowna native will line up against the Royals (14-10-0-1), the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2010 WHL bantam draft, as a member of the Blazers (6-15-2-1).

"It's going to be different," Harrison said Wednesday, following his first practice with the Blazers at Interior Savings Centre. "I'm going to see a lot of familiar faces . . . I can only play them like any other team and be hard on them."

Harrison was acquired by the Blazers on Tuesday, following the Royals' 2-1 victory over the host Blazers, in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. Harrison said he found out about the trade following the game - he had been a healthy scratch, which confused him but also gave him an indication something was coming.

Following the game, Victoria head coach Dave Lowry told him he had been dealt. He hugged his former teammates, told them he would see them on the weekend and walked down the hall to meet his new team.

"It was a sad day," he said. "I'm going to miss a lot of the guys there. It's a great organization, they treated me very well and I'm going to remember them for the rest of my life.

"I can only look forward to this new organization."

Harrison said he had mostly positive feelings when he heard about the trade; he thought about how Kamloops is close to home and how he would get to see his family at more games. He also saw it as an opportunity, a fresh start and a chance to play a larger role. He also hopes to improve on his point totals - in 92 regular-season games with the Royals, he had six points, including four goals.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to maybe get a little more ice time, maybe play a little more special teams, maybe put up some more numbers," he said. "Getting the opportunity I believe I should have."

Harrison has moved from a playoff team in Victoria to a team in Kamloops that's falling further and further out of the playoff picture with each loss. Despite the drop in standings, he still has high expectations for himself and his new club.

"Coming in I'm only going to have a winning attitude," he said. "I still believe the team can grab a playoff spot, no doubt in my mind, and Victoria, doing decently well right now, I believe we can catch them."

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