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Laying in weight
Cole Ully has added mass and increased the weight of the Kamloops Blazers’ offensive attack early in the 2012-2013 WHL season.
After four games, the 160-pound forward from Calgary — who hovered around the 150-mark last season — has three goals, tied with Swiss forward Tim Bozon for the team lead, and four points.
“I tried to eat lots and do stuff to gain weight in the off-season,” said Ully, who trained this summer in Cow Town at Crash Conditioning, along with several NHLers, including Jordan Eberle and Mike Green.
“It’s not just about weight, but strength. I got a lot stronger and a lot faster, too. It helps a lot.”
Kamloops is hosting the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday, Oct. 5, and the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 6.
Puck-drop both nights is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Interior Savings Centre.
When the Blazers drafted Ully in the second round of the 2010 bantam draft, they knew it might take him a while to develop.
“He was a player that was smaller and would take a little more time to adjust to playing against bigger and stronger players,” said Matt Recchi, Kamloops’ director of player personnel.
“We felt by 18 he would be a real contributor to our team.”
Ully, who turns 18 on Feb. 20, racked up nine goals and 20 points in 55 games last season as a super-welterweight.
Yes, it is just the dawn of a new WHL campaign, but the babyface forward — now a middleweight — is on pace to dwarf his 2011-2012 numbers.
“My confidence is pretty good right now,” Ully said.
“I’m playing with some good players in Needs [Matt Needham] and Souts [Chase Souto].”
Needham, drafted by Kamloops one round ahead of Ully in 2010, is also off to a good start, with two goals and three points in four games.
Recchi compared Ully to diminutive Blazer forward Colin Smith, who exploded as an 18-year-old last season with 35 goals and 85 points.
“He’s got real slick hands. He can shoot while in stride. He’s got deception. He can look off players and move it the other way,” Recchi said of Ully.
“You expect him to take that next step in terms of his strength because his skills and hockey sense and skating ability are already there.”
Ully reported to training camp at 165 pounds, but quickly dropped five, thanks to the rigours of fitness testing and frequent practices.
“I’m not quite where I want to be, but that’s just what happens at camp,” Ully said.
“You lose weight.”
If the Blazers score four or more goals and win this Friday, fans in attendance can exchange their tickets for Teen Burgers at A&W.
Or, they could just leave the stubs at will-call for Ully.