When Blazer fans think of their favourite jersey, it’s likely they think back to a fond moment in franchise history. Maybe they like the classic 93′-94′ style uniform, or maybe the Cooperalls from the 80’s. In the next few years, Blazers’ fans favourite Jerzy might just change.
When Jerzy Orchard was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in the 5th round, 110th overall, the Delisle, Saskatchewan born forward was coming off an impressive season playing for the Sask Valley Vipers of the SBAAHL. Orchard tallied 44 points in 30 games that year in a league that featured many other top WHL draft picks, most noticeably Logan Barlage.
The 6-foot forward was signed to a standard player agreement on August 31st, 2018 after he had a successful training camp.
“It’s something I have always been working towards. I had a good camp and I think that was a big part of it. I worked hard in the summers and when I got here I was ready for the spot.”
Before signing a WHL contract, the Junior A – NCAA route was always an option but when it came down to it, the Western Hockey League was the best option.
“There is always options, but when the time came, my family and I decided it was best to come here [Kamloops]”
Jerzy has found himself in and out of the lineup this year, only finding his way onto the ice in 12 games thus far grabbing one assist. He knows the only way to stay in the lineup is to be prepared when your name is called.
“You just have to be consistent, come into the rink every day with a workmanlike attitude and have good preparation, even if you’re not playing.”
Helping with the transition to playing hockey over 1000 km’s from home is the fact there are six other Saskatchewan born players on the Blazers roster this year.
“I know all of them,” said Orchard “it definitely helps to have some familiar faces in the dressing room, they are all good guys in the room so it’s not hard to make friends.”
With the advancement of summer hockey, something that has become rarer in elite hockey players is the opportunity to hone other athletic abilities playing different sports.
Orchard recognizes the value of diversifying your athletic abilities “I actually played a lot of competitive sports [when I was younger] like fastball, tennis, badminton and golf. I love golf in the summer.” Jerzy continued “I think it’s huge out on the ice, just being good at other sports affects your game”
With a such a unique name, there had to be a good family story behind it and Jerzy’s first name is no exception.
“My grandpa’s name is George, and Jerzy is Polish for George so that’s where it comes from.”
With Kamloops in the midst of the busiest portion of their schedule there will no doubt be more opportunity for Orchard to get back in the lineup and for Blazers fans to cheer on their new favourite Jerzy.