Cheveldave doesn't plan on making any changes

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
March 22, 2012 01:00 AM

Cole Cheveldave of the Kamloops Blazers is hoping to build on a terrific regular season by leading his mates to victory over the Victoria Royals in a playoff round that begins here Friday.

Cole Cheveldave isn't oblivious to his playoff history. He just doesn't put much stock in it.

Cheveldave, 18, is set to lead the Kamloops Blazers into the WHL playoffs. Kamloops will play host to the Victoria Royals on Friday, 7 p.m., at Interior Savings Centre, and Cheveldave will start in goal.

If Blazers fans were looking for a sign before tomorrow's game, consider this - Cheveldave's last two playoff seasons have started perfectly.

Last season, while with the AJHL's Drumheller Dragons, he posted the shutout in a 2-0 victory over the host Camrose Kodiaks in Game 1 of a best-of-five series. It was the same thing in 2009-10, when Cheveldave helped the midget AAA Calgary Flames open a best-of-three series against the Calgary Royals with a 2-0 victory.

Two playoff openers, zero goals. Not that Cheveldave cares.

"I'm just trying to play the same way," said the Calgary native. "I don't look at anything too much - I just try to go out and play the way I can every night."

In the same breath, Cheveldave hasn't spent a lot of time dwelling on his incredible rookie season.

In September, Cheveldave was fighting for a spot on the team with Cam Lanigan and Taran Kozun. By October, he had won the starting job, and never relinquished it.

He ended up sixth in the WHL in victories (34) and goals-against average (2.62), and was ninth in save percentage (.909).

He was honoured before the Blazers' last home game, a 10-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars on Friday, with two awards - the three-star award and the rookie of the year, which he shared with forward Tim Bozon.

The Blazers finished the regular season 47-20-2-3 and won the B.C. Division title for the first time since 2001-02, thanks, in large part, to the play of Cheveldave.

"Me and the coaches sat down at the start of the year," Cheveldave said. "We wanted to keep my (GAA) below three and my save percentage above 90. I did both of those.

"Hopefully, going into the playoffs, I can keep it going."

And, in keeping with his pattern of looking forward, Cheveldave isn't worried about his increased workload this season.

Although his 3,089 minutes played left him nowhere near the league leader - Seattle's Calvin Pickard played 3,630 minutes - it's a major step up from his only season in the AJHL. Cheveldave played 2,521 minutes in 2010-11, nearly 9½ fewer games than he played this season.

"No fatigue, whatsoever," he said Wednesday. "I'm just going to stick with the program and do all the little things I've been doing all season."

It's a pretty smart plan, not changing anything up.

Guy Charron, head coach of the Blazers, agrees. Charron is hoping Cheveldave doesn't prepare any differently for his first playoff start than he did his 55 regular-season appearances.

Cheveldave has been the picture of focus and intensity throughout the season.

"Any time you have a goaltender with that type of energy and who works really hard in practice . . . it motivates everybody," Charron said. "Every time they shoot on him, they know they have to try hard.

"Leading to the playoffs, I don't think there's anything different for him - I don't think he changes his attitude.

"We just hope he does the same thing and the team plays well in front of him."

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