KAMLOOPS — Sean Strange is a Victoria boy at heart. Playing for his hometown Royals would've been a dream come true for the 17-year-old defenseman.
But being drafted by the Blazers, in the 10th round in 2015, is a close second with family ties in Kamloops.
"It's really cool. I've come here every Christmas, every once in a while to visit my grandparents," said Strange. "So it's really cool to be drafted to a team where I have lots of family."
While Strange grew up in the provincial capital, his dad Kevin was born and raised in Kamloops. Kevin played minor hockey with one of the Recchi boys, Marty.
"My dad grew up here in Kamloops, so his parents are still here and his brother's still here, so that's pretty cool," said Sean. "My grandpa was actually a firefighter with coach Don for a while. That's a pretty cool connection."
Sean's grandfather Phil didn't work directly with Don Hay, who was with Kamloops Fire Rescue before becoming a full-time hockey coach.
Phil served as the volunteer fire chief in Westsyde for 35 years, working with Hay when fires occurred out there.
"Phil Strange, long-time Westsyde resident. He was the volunteer fire chief at Station 4 in Westsyde," said Hay. "Phil was also a high school teacher in town. I just know Phil from my time spent at the fire hall, going out and working in Westsyde. Real community guy, a family guy, and gave a lot back to the city of Kamloops. It's great to see his grandson being drafted here."
Phil, who's 75 years old, has a 450-acre hobby farm just outside of Regina that he tends to for months at a time. But he has season tickets now to the Blazers to see his grandson play.
"Right now, my grandpa owns a farm, so he's out there right now," Sean noted. "He hasn't been to any games yet. He just bought season tickets, so when he gets back he'll be coming to watch."
Sean will play in his first WHL game against the Giants tonight, then suit up in the games versus his hometown Royals Saturday and Sunday, all games his mom and dad will be attending.
"It's really exciting," said Sean. "I grew up watching Victoria. Getting to play against them is going to be a really cool experience. I'll have a bunch of friends and family there for the game, so it's really exciting."
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