KAMLOOPS — With the way the Blazers have been trending, Matt Bardsley felt it was time for change.
So yesterday the General Manager pulled the trigger on two trades — dealing veterans Luc Smith to Spokane and Nolan Kneen to Saskatoon.
Incoming are two other Western League veterans in Jackson Caller and Jeff Faith.
Jackson Caller has come home.
After two-and-a-half seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, the 19-year-old is joining his hometown Blazers.
"It's very amazing to put on that jersey," says Caller. "Growing up here, I always wanted to be out there with those guys. It's really special that I finally can."
The Blazers gave up offence in trading Smith and Kneen — Caller and Jeff Faith, a forward, arrive with three goals between them this season.
They also gave up the physicality that Smith and Kneen provided — but head coach Serge Lajoie expects Caller and Faith to more than make up for that part of the game and open up opportunities for others offensively while adding their own dynamic to a team that has been inconsistent this season.
"Well the physicality (of Caller and Faith) in itself just helps perpetuate the kind of team we want to be," says Lajoie. "A team that's tough to play against. We want to be a team that prides itself in the offensive zone — when you have two players that pride themselves in playing the game the right way that's going to help to encourage that kind of approach."
Jackson Caller only met his new teammates for the first time ahead of practice today. Although he did have a close encouter with his new captain Jermaine Loewen, when the Blazers played in Saskatoon last December.
"I actually met him this morning," says Caller. "We had a couple of laughs there. A very good guy... a very good captain. Looking forward to continuing that friendship."
Who won that battle? "I have to say him," says Caller. "A pretty big guy."
Jeff Faith is driving in from Spokane today and won't practice until tomorrow. Both will be in the lineup on Friday night when the Blazers play host to Caller's former teammates — the Saskatoon Blades — and Nolan Kneen.
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