Photo credit: WJBC staff
The Bloomington Blaze, fueled by Mid-Illini Credit Union, drop the puck for their second season on home ice tonight (10/19) and Saturday (10/20) as Central Hockey League action begins with a pair of games agains the Rapid City Rush.
Game times are 7:05 p.m. each night. Opening night fans will receive a magnetic schedule courtesy of Premier Orthopedics and Saturday night fans receive an adult replica jersey compliments of Mid-Illini Credit Union. The first-year Junior Blaze carry a 4-1 record into their opening home weekend with games at 3 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Sunday against the Michigan Ice Dogs; admission to Sunday's game is $5 and admission to Friday's Junior Blaze game is included in the Blaze ticket.
New Blaze coach Brian Gratz knows what it takes to derail the opposition and excite local fans. “The plan for our team from the beginning was to put together a hard-working team that will be difficult to play against every night,” said Gratz. Players in the Gratz system must possess the same fire that lights up the Blaze crest on their sweaters.
The coach also believes that hockey success is built from the net out. “I feel that we have some very talented goaltenders who will give us a chance to win each and every game,” said Gratz. Dan Dunn, who played for Gratz last season, and Pier-Olivier Pelletier provide size and technical expertise between the pipes.
Gratz says that large presence is also evident on the blue line, notably with returners Aaron Dawson and Ryan Palmer and 6-5 newcomer Tysen Dowzak. “Our defensive group definitely has good size and physicality with the ability to jump into the play to help creat offensive opportunities,” said Gratz.
Offensive lines who recognize the benefit of defensive play will be a staple of this year’s Blaze. “I feel that we have a very balanced group of forwards that will be responsible defensively but also be able to transition quickly and create offensive opportunities,” said the first-year skipper. The Blaze will be counting on last year’s top two Blaze goal scorers, Jon Booras and Kyle Laughlin, as well as returning two-way skater Travis Granbois to fit that mold.
“The players are excited for the start of the season as am I,” said Gratz. “I feel that we have a good mix of talent and grit that will allow us to make something special for the city of Bloomington and our fans.”
By: Greg Halbleib/Bloomington Blaze Hockey