Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Big Warriors bounce Blazers

Daily News Sports Editor
Size won out on Tuesday night at Interior Savings Centre.
The Moose Jaw Warriors, their roster full of tall, tall trees, scored two second-period goals and went on to a 4-2 WHL victory over the Kamloops Blazers before 4,131 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
The Warriors (24-14-2) dressed 14 skaters who are at least 6-foot-0 and they took over play in the second period when they started playing the game below the hash marks in the Kamloops zone.
“(The Blazers) came out really hard,” offered Moose Jaw captain Spencer Edwards, who iced this one with an empty netter. “They’ve got a lot of strength, a lot of speed. (In the first period), we were kind of testing each other out, to see what each other had.”
As for the second period, Edwards, a 20-year-old from Coquitlam, explained: “We tried to get everything on net and get a couple of rebounds and grease some in.”
“We juggled lines a bit and made an adjustment to our structure,” Moose Jaw head coach Dave Hunchak said. “We found some things that we could adjust and full marks to the players for applying those adjustments. I thought we overhandled pucks in the first period, tried to get too fancy at times.”
In the second, newly acquired winger Brett Lyon said, the Warriors “just kept it simple.”
For a third game, the Blazers (19-20-2) continued their recently implemented policy of not allowing anyone from their organization to speak with The Daily News.
The teams came out of the first period at 1-1 — Matt Needham scoring for the Blazers and Sam Fioretti for the Warriors.
But it was the visitors who took over in the second, and it resulted in goals from defenceman Kendall McFaull, who got his first of the season, and forward Jesse Paradis, with his seventh.
McFaull’s goal came after defence partner Collin Bowman rang a shot off a post. The rebound went long to McFaull on the other post and he fired it past goaltender Jeff Bosch.
Paradis got his goal after a stretch in which the Warriors dominated play in the offensive zone.
“They’re not a small team but we do have some size,” said Edwards. “The new guy we have played really well. He adds a physical presence and he works very hard and that’s something guys on our team pride ourselves on.”
Lyon, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, was acquired from the Vancouver Giants, the Warriors giving up forward Nathan Smith, 17, in the deal. Smith is with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.
Lyon, 19, is from Grand Forks and actually began his career with the Blazers in 2008-09 before being dealt to Vancouver last season. He’s a banger, witness the 198 penalty minutes he compiled last season and the 109 he’s has to date this season.
Lyon still has friends with the Blazers, including defenceman Brandon Underwood and winger JT Barnett, who was his roommate last season in Vancouver.
“There are no friends out there,” Lyon said with a chuckle, admitting there was “a little bit of yapping going on.”
Lyon caused some concern for his new club at 17:17 of the third period when he took a kneeing penalty with the Warriors up 3-2. The Warriors had been in control for a lot of the third, until Kamloops winger Brendan Ranford forced a turnover in the Moose Jaw zone and got the puck to Thomas Frazee, who beat goaltender Thomas Heemskerk.
The Blazers called a timeout to get their power play organized — they were without captain Chase Schaber, who left favouring his left leg six minutes into the third — but had their hopes dashed when Edwards found the empty net.
“Every time we’ve played a Western Conference team it’s been a war,” Hunchak said. “I don’t know why that is.”
This game was just that.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers expect to have F Bernhard Keil (Germany) and F Dalibor Bortnak (Slovakia) back from the World Junior Championship when they meet the visiting Chilliwack Bruins on Friday. . . . As well, D Brady Gaudet and F Logan McVeigh are expected back from the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. They played for Team Western. . . . Needham, 15, will return to his Okanagan Hockey Academy team in Penticton. He has six points in eight games and has proven he can play in this league. He got caught in the trolley tracks a couple of times last night but proved he could take a hit and keep on ticking. . . . Kamloops also had F Aspen Sterzer, 16, in the lineup last night. He now returns to his Calgary-based midget AAA EDGE academy team that is playing in a tournament in Kelowna. . . . The Blazers also have returned D Landon Cross, 16, to the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. He got into six games with Kamloops. While he was with the Blazers, Cross learned that he had been named the Manitoba midget AAA league’s defensive player of the month for December. He had a goal and an assist, and was plus-11, in six games with Brandon last month.
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