Kamloops Storm players Branden Toye, Zakery Anderson, Samuel Lewis, Lex Friesen, Jacob Drapeau and Brody Johnston will join the B.C. Hockey League’s Powell River Kings for their season. That group follows Owen Barrow, who signed with the Kings in mid-January.
Storm GM Matt Kolle says Johnston brings experience with him to Powell River because he finished the final half of last season with the Merritt Centennials, playing in 18 games. Johnston, a gritty six-foot, 180 pound defenceman, plays a hard-nosed style.
“If you don’t have your head up, he will hit you hard,” says Kolle. “He is very hard to play against. If you are not paying attention, he will make you pay.”
Last season with the Storm, the former Cariboo Cougar played in 29 games as a 16-year-old, collecting seven assists.
Toye, a former Thompson Blazer, hopes to establish himself in the fast-paced league with bigger and stronger players. The Kamloops product hopes to develop and show that he can play there next season.
“Hopefully I can turn some heads doing it and get a commitment to play in the BCHL,” says Toye, who had four points in two games this season.
His time with the Storm helped to get used to playing with bigger and older players, and under the coaching of Steve Gainey and the rest of the staff, developed his skills.
Anderson, another Kamloops native and former Thompson Blazer, looks to get off to a good start and showcase himself. He wants to prove himself after improving his play along the boards and gained confidence with the puck. Playing against bigger opposition helped as well. Anderson had two points in two games.
Lewis is a defenceman, who intends to do a job that other players “aren’t willing to do.”
“Play the body, block shots, play a good defensive game while I’m up there,” says Lewis, who is six-foot-two, 180 pounds. “I want to give a good first impression. I think I’m a hard, big D-man, who does well in the defensive zone.”
Lewis improved his hands and shot and credited Gainey and the coaches for helping him.
Brandon, MB, native Lex Friesen intends to work hard and do the little things well. He’s motivated to do the best he can as a fast, skilled forward. Listed at five-foot-10, 165-pounds he had two goals in two games. Last season with the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy, he had 13 goals and 28 points in 35 games.
“I like to get into the corners and try to beat guys’s speed in open ice,” says Friesen, who became more mature, and took advantage of being on the ice to improve his skills.
Drapeau hopes to make a name for himself between the pipes. A hybrid/butterfly goalie, the 20-year-old was 16-22-0 in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season and playoffs. He was 2-0 this season with a 1.90 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Drapeau improved his movement and puck tracking this season.