The goaltender who backstopped the Kamloops Blazers to the team’s first-ever Memorial Cup championship has some advice for the team that will be chasing a fourth title in a pressure-packed season.
“It’s great to see them back — just enjoy it,” Blazer alumni Corey Hirsch told KTW during a recent visit to Kamloops. “Junior careers are so short. My four years went by in a flash, and, you know what, these guys are going to be your friends for life, so just enjoy being together.”
The Blazers are about to open the 2022-2023 season, which will see them play host to the Memorial Cup tourney next spring for the first time since their third and latest championship in 1995.
Hirsch was in Kamloops on Sept. 14 as part of his work with the Independent Contractors and Business Association, which aims to help construction workers defeat the stigma surrounding mental health. Hirsch noted the importance of being open and speaking up about mental-health issues, which wasn’t a common practice during his days in the dressing room, but is crucial to helping address those issues.
Hirsch guarded the crease for the Blazers back in 1992, though, as he noted to the crowd gathered at Columbo Hall for his speech, he had the likes of future hall-of-famers Scott Niedermeyer and Darryl Sydor as his defencemen.
“Never really got any shots in any games, but they made me look good,” Hirsch quipped.
This season, there is a changing of the guard in net for the Blazers as longtime goalie Dylan Garand moves on to the pro American Hockey League, making way for a new starter to step up for the Memorial Cup season.
Hirsch told KTW the Blazers have been blessed with many good goaltenders during the past few years and is confident the trend will continue under the tutelage of goalie coach Dan DePalma.
Hirsch told the room of listeners he couldn’t have asked for a better place to play hockey, adding he is always thankful for his time in Kamloops.
“Thank you for giving me such a wonderful place to play, where I was able to grow and develop into an adult and an NHL hockey player,” Hirsch said.
Hirsch played four seasons with the Kamloops Blazers from 1988-1989 to 1991-1992, winning the Memorial Cup in his final season. Drafted by the New York Rangers in 1991, he went on to win a Stanley Cup with the team in 1994, though British Columbians might know him best as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, with which he played from 1995-1996 to 1998-1999. Hirsch also won an Olympic silver medal in men’s hockey in 1994, gaining infamy when Sweden’s Peter Forsberg scored a one-handed goal on him in a shootout in the gold medal game, a goal now known as “The Forsberg” and memorialized on a postage stamp in the Scandanavian country.