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December 5, 2013, Prince George (ISN)- Kamloops Blazers defenceman Josh Connolly will be on the ice at CN Centre on Dec. 23 as the Cariboo Cougars renew an an annual holiday tradition.

Connolly will be among the nearly two dozen graduates of the Cougars program to return for the alumni game. “It’s fun going back, playing with some of the guys you played with, playing with the new guys,” Connolly said. “I enjoyed it last year and it should be fun this year as well.”

Connolly has fond memories of the time he spent playing for his hometown team in the BC Major Midget League. He said his time with the Cougars helped him prepare to take the next step in his hockey career. “It’s really like the Western Hockey League, practice a lot, you work out a lot and it’s a good level of hockey,” he said. In particular Connolly credits the Cougars coaching with helping him improve his play in his own end, something of upmost importance for a player at his position.

In 42 regular-season games over two seasons with the Cougars, Connolly had 13 goals and 29 assists. But some of his favourite experiences came during visits to the Mac’s Midget AAA tournament in Calgary. “The playoff run was pretty cool and I made a lot of friends,” he said. Connolly had a lot of success on the ice with the Cougars and that carried over to last year when as a rookie he helped the Blazers reach the WHL’s Western Conference final.

This year Connolly is taking on a bigger role on the ice with a Blazers team in rebuilding mode. “I know our team isn’t as strong as last year, but I’m playing a ton,” he said. “Hopefully our team can start winning and make the playoffs, that would be a really good goal for us.”