By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
You kind of knew what the Chilliwack game plan was when on each of his first two shifts Bruins left-winger Brendan Persley hit the cross-bar behind Kamloops Blazers goaltender Jon Groenheyde on Saturday night.
Persley did that with his body, not the puck.
The game plan worked, too, as the Bruins, using a physical in-your-face style, handed the Blazers a 5-2 licking before 4,010 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
“Absolutely,” replied Blazers captain Chase Schaber when it was suggested the Bruins had been allowed to set the tempo. “For the first couple of shifts we sat back and we watched them take the shots and then we responded after that.
“As a team, we can’t let that happen. We have to be the ones that jump the gun and take it to them and dictate the pace of the game.”
The Blazers (1-1-0-0) will get the opportunity to do just that on Saturday when the teams meet again, this time in Chilliwack’s home-opener. One night earlier, the Blazers will meet the Silvertips in Everett.
This was a costly loss, too, as defenceman Josh Caron left early in the third period with what Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said is an “upper body” injury. Charron expects to be without the rugged Caron for up to six weeks. It was a tough end to what had been a terrific week for Caron, 19, who signed a three-year NHL contract — he was a free agent — with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
Caron was injured in the second- period but thought, mistakenly as it turned out, that he could play in the third.
The Bruins (1-1-0-0) got big games from two veteran forwards who have tasted NHL camps themselves.
Left-winger Ryan Howse, whose NHL rights belong to the Calgary Flames, scored twice, giving him five goals in two games. Centre Roman Horak, in his first game since returning from the New York Rangers, had a goal and three assists.
“How good was Horak?” a smiling Marc Habscheid, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, asked rhetorically.
Howse, who is from Prince George, was quick to credit his Slovakian linemates — Horak and Robin Soudek — for his night’s work, but added “everybody played well. Every line contributed with hits or making plays.”
As for the Bruins’ aggression, Howse said: “We have to bring that kind of game.”
Howse got his club started when he rifled a shot past Groenheyde’s glove just 1:05 into the game. Five minutes later, Horak upped it to 2-0 when, while on the power play, he went to the net and had an airborne puck go off his body and into the net.
The Blazers were left to play catch-up and, while they got close at 2-1 and 3-2, they weren’t able to pull even.
“I thought we generated a lot of scoring chances,” said Charron, whose club had 38 shots on goaltender Lucas Gore, who is from Kamloops.
The Blazers, as they did in beating the Prince George Cougars on Friday, had problems with turnovers and spent too much time in their zone.
“There were a number of times when our gap . . . our defencemen weren’t in their face at all,” Charron said. “That allows them to generate some speed.”
The Bruins used that speed to access the Kamloops zone and the Blazers’ passivity often allowed the visitors to set up camp there.
Jamie Crooks and Tyler Stahl also scored for the Bruins, who led 2-1 and 4-2 at the breaks. Ryan Hanes and Brendan Ranford replied for the Blazers, who got 27 saves from Groenheyde.
Charron scratched two forwards — freshman Logan McVeigh and sophomore JC Lipon, both of whom played Friday. That got two new forwards — Lyndon Martell and Chase Souto — into the lineup. Charron said he hadn’t seen enough energy from the line of Hanes, McVeigh and Lipon.
Souto, who turns 16 on Oct. 8, gave the crowd something to cheer about at 19:37 of the third period. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder took a slash from Chillwack defenceman Zach Habscheid, 18, who goes 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds and had 96 penalty minutes in 53 games last season.
Souto dropped the gloves and then dropped Habscheid with a straight right to the jaw.
“He knows his role and he does it very well,” said Charron of Souto. “(Chilliwack) did a lot more talking than action, but their game plan worked so more power to them.”
The Bruins don’t play again before meeting the Blazers on Saturday. Schaber said his guys will be ready.
“It all starts with our preparation,” he said. “I don’t think we were ready. We didn’t bring the energy that we need to bring every night.
“We’re going to work on that through the week and we’re going to come back strong and we’re going to come back ready to play and play Blazers hockey.”
JUST NOTES: Referees Ryan Benbow and Trent Knorr gave the Blazers 13 of 23 minors, two of four majors and two of three misconducts. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Horak: Could have had eight or nine points; 2. Howse: Scored 47 last season and on pace for 180 this season; 3. Persley: Spent the night in Groenheyde’s face. . . . Kamloops D Corey Fienhage (Buffalo Sabres) was expected back in town last night. The timing of his return couldn’t be better, what with Caron expected to miss as much as six weeks of action. . . . D Brandon Manning (N.Y. Rangers) and C Kevin Sundher (Buffalo) were to rejoin the Bruins on Sunday. . . . The honourary Blazer on Saturday was Brendan Mucha of Barriere, a cousin to G Kurtis Mucha, who completed his WHL eligibility with the Blazers last season. Kurtis made his CIS debut with the U of Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night. He stopped 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Regina Cougars. . . . Charron indicated that Groenheyde likely will play both games this weekend, as Jeff Bosch (ankle) isn’t ready. . . . F Tyler Shattock, the Blazers’ captain a year ago, has been sent to the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen by the St. Louis Blues.
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