Logan Stankoven has a good luck charm in grandma Geraldine Boyle and a wunderkind whisperer in corner man Gary Labbe.
The 16-year-old Blazers’ forward from Kamloops picked B.C. Family Day Weekend to send a message to the WHL, tallying seven goals and nine points in three victories at Sandman Centre — 5-3 over the Red Deer Rebels on Friday, 5-3 over the Victoria Royals on Saturday and 7-6 over Victoria on Monday, an overtime thriller.
Stankoven handled media duties by deflecting praise, mentioning boxing coach Labbe, and fielding questions about family in attendance, most notably 82-year-old grandmother Boyle.
“She lives on the Island, so I don’t get to see her too, too much,” Stankoven said. “It’s pretty cool to have her in the house and I’m glad we won all three games.”
Stankoven’s incredible weekend — he scored four goals on Saturday — is about natural talent, hard work and endless practise, a lightning-quick release and a motor that whirrs like a howling Kamloops wind, but there are some lesser known contributing factors.
Enter the Mickey to his Rocky.
Labbe trains a couple of fighters out of his garage, which doubles as a licensed B.C. Boxing gym — Vega Boxing Club.
Stankoven’s father, Wes, and Labbe are acquainted.
“When I heard he got drafted by the Blazers, I said, ‘You know, if he ever wants to do a little cross-training, try something different, he can do some boxing,” Labbe said. “It’s a real good workout and it’s something different than he’s used to.”
Stankoven spent much of his Christmas break focusing on fitness and polishing skills that may have diminished during the first half of the campaign.
“I did a few boxing sessions, tried to really work on my cardio and get back to where I was at the beginning of the season,” said Stankoven, who's had about six sessions with Labbe.
“It’s really kind of him to take his time and help me work on my cardio. You also learn to protect yourself.”
Labbe noted similarities between frenetic spurts of hockey shifts and some of the conditioning work undertaken by pugilists.
“Your heart rate goes whoosh!” Labbe said, noting athletic therapist Kevin Brechin may include boxing in summer workouts with Stankoven. “Just like in hockey, you get those short sprints. Here, you go really hard for three minutes and get a minute to rest and recover.
“And it’s good for balance and co-ordination because of the skipping and using your hands, and also it just toughens you up. It makes you better equipped.”
Stankoven has kept his money-makers inside his mitts, scoring knockout blows by cashing in at the net, with 16 goals and 27 points since the Christmas break.
“He’s such a nice kid,” Labbe said. “I find him really easy to hang around with and train. He leaves his ego at the door.”
The Tournament Capital product, who has 25 goals and 40 points in 51 games this season, is closing in on the franchise’s 16-year-old goal-scoring record. Rob Brown notched 29 goals in 50 games for the Blazers in 1984-1985.
“I don’t really think about that a lot,” Stankoven said. “Obviously, people talk about it and I hear it every once in a while, but it’s not a big deal to me. It would be nice to break the record, but you have to keep it in perspective and we have to finish off strong going into the playoffs.”
Grandma Boyle hopped a ferry back to Vancouver Island on Tuesday, news that will disappoint a few Blazers’ fans who took to twitter on Monday night.
“She should be at all home games,” Kyle Harris said. “Stanky’s good luck charm.”
Added Katie Guerin: “Yeah, she should come to every game.”
Lost in the shuffle and banished to these throwaway lines is Uncle Steve Boyle, who also made the trip from Vancouver Island.
Apologies to Uncle Steve, but he doesn’t sell free papers.
Grandma Boyle might just keep them out of the recycling bin.