Connor Zary was unable to play on Wednesday at Sandman Centre, where his B.C. Division champion Kamloops Blazers capped the truncated campaign with a 4-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars.
Zary, who is recovering from an upper-body injury, is not expected to return to Kamloops for his overage campaign, with professional hockey likely in his future.
The Calgary Flames’ prospect spoke to KTW during the second intermission.
Here is the transcript:
KTW: It has been an odd season and this must feel weird tonight. How are you feeling about being up in the press box watching the rest of your teammates play the last game of the season, with no fans in the building?
CZ: It’s obviously weird and it sucks to not be playing, to not be on the ice in most likely the last go at things in junior, but I’m kind of happy to be around and watch the guys and all the 20-year-olds play out their final game and be a part of that.
Looking out on the ice and just kind of thinking this is most likely it for junior hockey for myself and it’s honestly a little bit emotional just watching and especially not playing. It’s pretty hard looking back on everything.
Coming in at 16 and trying to make a name for myself through three years of playing and into this year. Everything that comes along with that, all the road trips and all the time spent with teammates and building new friendships, new coaches, new management, it’s all been pretty special along the way.
The one thing that’s always stayed the same in the four years, besides a few of the guys, has been Toledo [Blazers’ trainer Colin Robinson]. Having him here as a trainer, you couldn’t ask for more of a friend and mentor to kind of keep me going through things.
When you had something you didn’t really feel comfortable talking to your teammates or your friends about, Toledo was always there for me, always pushing me and making me go harder and wanting me to be the best, and always my biggest fan.
Having him and knowing my parents back home support me, my family and friends along the whole way, taking care of me and getting up here when they could, just looking back on all that is pretty emotional, but it’s exciting to see where the future lies.
KTW: What are some of the on-ice memories that stand out?
CZ: That play-in game against Kelowna, that was really the only the playoff run.
It sucks not getting these last two years, when we have pretty unbelievable teams, to not make playoff runs, but I definitely say that play-in game against Kelowna, the building was packed and there was so much energy, and to score the goal and celebrate and see all the fans out of their seats, I think I kind of blacked out for a moment, just celebrating. I can remember that day like it was yesterday.
KTW: You only had one playoff series, against Victoria. You remember what that was like and how crazy the building was. Does it make you feel like you missed out? You could have had some unbelievable playoff rounds.
CZ: Yeah, for sure. That’s what me and some of the older guys have talked about in the past. We played four years here and got to the playoffs once. This year and last year, we had teams to make it all the way to the WHL championship, without a doubt in my mind, so yeah, it does suck we kind of missed out on it.
Two B.C. Division titles in a row. We had the teams. We had everything. But I’m hoping the Blazers and these guys that are out there, the future, that they can push forward and bring a title home.