KAMLOOPS, BC—Excitement is in the air as the Kamloops NorthPaws are poised to kick off their second season in the West Coast League.
Author: Larry Read
With the Memorial Cup junior hockey tournament being played in Kamloops, the North Paws asked the West Coast league to begin the 2023 campaign on the road. The North Paws will open the campaign up at Wilson’s Group Stadium in Victoria, BC against the HarbourCats. The three-game series kicks off Thursday June 2nd and winds up Sunday June 4th.
Kamloops has 10 veterans back from the team which finished third overall in the WCL North Division (record 26-27). The NorthPaws have changed managers twice since Cole Armstrong directed them in their inaugural season. Former Major Leaguer Brian Anderson replaced Armstrong in October 2022 but resigned to take a position with Northwestern University (NCAA Div I). Keith Francis was named his replacement this past April. He and Anderson worked together with Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona and was initially coming to Kamloops as an assistant coach in 2023 before the promotion.
The HarbourCats have 13 players returning from the team which finished fourth in the West Coast League North Division in 2022 (record 26-28).
Friday June 2nd 6:35 PM , Saturday June 3rd 6:35 PM, Sunday June 4th 1:05 PM
Games streamed at HCATS.TV
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
1. Cam Caley – LHP – Baylor University – Sophomore
2. Harrison Caley – C – Baylor University – Junior
3. Jesse Brown – OF – UC Santa Barbara
4. Dallas Macias – 2B/OF – Oregon State – Freshman
5. Hudson Shupe – SS – Seattle – Freshman
1. Andrew Stucky C-OF University of Texas San Antonio Hometown: Tucson, AZ Sophomore
2. Robin Villeneuve 1B-LHP Weatherford College Hometown: Gatineau QC Sophomore
3. Tommy Green SS-INF Oakland University Hometown: Courtenay, BC Senior
4. Felix Chenier-Rondeau OF Oklahoma City University Hometown: Blainville, QC Senior
Victoria Head Coach Todd Haney:
“We have assembled a top caliber line-up this season and can’t wait to get things started Friday against the NorthPaws. This is the 10th Anniversary season of the HarbourCats, and I’d like nothing more than to celebrate that by bringing the HarbourCats their first ever WCL title. I think we have the team to do that this year and look forward to the challenges the season will bring us.”
Kamloops Head Coach Keith Francis:
Heading into the season you are always a little apprehensive about your roster. Did we get enough pitching is everyone healthy etc. we know we have several still playing in post season play so your not exactly certain who is going to be ready for the opener. Having used all the coaches excuses I am looking forward to the season. I feel like we have an offensive lineup with players who have had very good seasons at their respective schools. I believe that our offense may have to carry else early until the pitching works itself out. Our first series should be mixed bag of a lineup with so many players not expected for another week, but it will give are younger players a chance.”
LAST YEAR’S (2022) SERIES:
The three games were played in Kamloops at Dearborn Ford Field. The NorthPaws won two of the three games. They opened the series June 14th with a 5-4 victory. Kolby Lukinchuk (Prince George, BC), came out of the bullpen to strike out the final two batters for the victory in his one inning of work. Zac Beatty led the way for Kamloops with two runs batted in.
Game two had Kamloops beating Victoria 9-8. Ben Polack was the winning pitcher going three innings with a strikeout. He was the third of three pitchers for the NorthPaws that night. Kamloops had nine runs on 13 hits with four errors.
Victoria won the final game of the series (June 16) by a score of 8-3, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth inning after scoring two in the first frame. Michael Nunez was the winning pitcher going four and a third innings giving up four hits and striking out five. Shay Timmer took the loss for Kamloops. He was the second of four pitchers going three innings with five strikeouts and three walks.
NORTH PAWS NOTABLES:
The North Paws have 11 players from British Columbia on their roster including five players from Kamloops itself (three of them: Tyrelle Chadwick, Jared Sucro, Nolan Austin are veterans).
Kamloops has two players who are currently members of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack baseball program: Lukinchuk and first year outfielder Manny Recchi. Former WolfPack player Adam Filmon has joined the NorthPaws as an assistant coach. Filmon is the grandson of former Manitoba Premier Gary.
The HarbourCats have one TRU player on their roster this year. Pitcher Sam Jordan who completed his first season with TRU in 2023.
The NorthPaws will kick off the home portion of their 2023 West Coast League season Tuesday June 6th at Dearborn Ford Field at Norbrock Stadium. It is a three-game series with the Portland Pickles. Opening pitch on Tuesday, Wednesday (June 7th) and Thursday (June 8th) will be 6:35 PM. Tuesday’s opening night festivities will include a pre-game ceremony.
Tuesday’s game will be “Blazers Night” where the NorthPaws will recognize the accomplishments of the 2022-23 Kamloops Blazers. It is hoped some members of the Blazers hockey club will be in attendance for the contest and will be available to sign autographs.
If you can’t make the games in person, NorthPaws home games will be webcast here : https://wcleague.watch.pixellot.tv/. There will also be a select number of games will be shown on Shaw Cable.
For “Everything NorthPaws – Go to the website : https://www.northpawsbaseball.ca/ “
Kamloops NorthPaws tickets: firstname.lastname@example.org
West Coast League: westcoastleague.com.
For more Information:
General Manager, Kamloops NorthPaws