- BC Games
Connect with Us
Blazer goalies jostle for No. 2 spot
One of the most interesting position battles to watch during the Blue vs. White game will be waged in the crease at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
Taran Kozun of Nipawin, Sask., is expected to be the starting goaltender come opening day, but the backup role is still up for grabs.
There are three front-runners for the job — 17-year-old Liam McLeod of Kamloops, 17-year-old Cameron Pateman of Regina and 16-year-old Cole Kehler of Altona, Man.
Dan De Palma, the Blazers’ goaltending coach, said it’s too early in the assessment process to give an edge to any of them.
“Right now, you really just want to be in evaluation mode,” De Palma said.
“You don’t want to get too hung up on one thing that’s real positive, or something that’s not so positive.
“They’re all different, but they’ve shown they’re capable guys and their attitudes are great.”
McLeod played last season for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the B.C. Hockey League, Pateman was with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians and Kehler played with the Altona Aces of the Manitoba high-school league.
The youngest of the three backstops said he has dealt well with the nerves that accompany constant analysis, knowing he is under scrutiny from those who will decide his fate.
“They’re all out there with the clipboards,” Kehler said.
“You know they’re there. You’ve just got to play your game and show them what you can do every chance you get.”
It must be easier said than done, but De Palma has asked each of the netminders to have short memories after they make mistakes.
“We take things as a whole,” De Palma said.
“Goaltending’s tough. You’re going to make mistakes. How do you deal with that? What are you going to do when you make some mistakes?
“We want them to feel good and have our support. When they feel that way, they’re going to give the best they have to offer. You want to see them at their best, not try to squash them and see them at their worst.”
Kozun might be the No. 1 guy heading into the season, but he has much to prove, having played in only 20 WHL games last season, a career-high.
No. 41 was handed the reins when Kamloops traded Cole Cheveldave to Prince Albert on July 10.
“I was actually kind of shocked,” said Kozun, who was 11-4-1-2 last season, posting two shutouts, a 2.36 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that early in the summer. After I thought about it, I was like, ‘Oh man, it’s my team,” so then I was pretty excited and couldn’t wait to get out here.”
The rosters for the Blue vs. White game had not yet been released as of KTW’s press deadline on Monday, Aug. 26, but Kozun, McLeod, Kehler and Pateman are each expected to get about half a game between the pipes.
Game time is 7 p.m. at ISC. Tickets are $5.
McLeod, like those he is competing with, has one thing on his mind.
“I’ve just got to stop the puck,” the local product said.
“That’s what we have to do.”