Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lanigan showing he wants to be No. 1

Daily News Sports Editor
Guy Charron, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, isn’t about to anoint Cam Lanigan as the WHL team’s starting goaltender.
Not just yet, anyway.
But after Lanigan, a 19-year-old with 90 regular-season appearances under his belt, stopped 37 shots in a 5-4 shootout loss to the host Kelowna Rockets on Saturday night, Charron sounded awfully positive.
“Lanigan played well,” Charron said. “I have to give him credit for the first period. I didn’t think we started the game as well as we would have liked. But that’s hockey . . . your goaltender has to come up big some nights.
“I thought he played really well in the first period, and for the rest of the game for that matter.”
Lanigan, who backed up Jeff Bosch through most of last season, was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for goaltender Jon Groenheyde on Nov. 4. A Calgary native, Lanigan’s numbers hardly were stellar — 3-9-0, 5.59 GAA, .843 save percentage — after the trade.
He has been much better than that in this exhibition season, going 3.16 and .914, albeit only in 95 minutes of action.
“He’s come to camp with a good attitude and he’s fit,” Charron said. “He didn’t come here thinking he had it for sure . . . he’s working for it.”
While not prepared to name Lanigan as his starter for the Sept. 24 regular-season opener against the visiting Prince George Cougars, Charron did allow that, at this point, the veteran is No. 1 on the depth chart, ahead of freshmen Cole Cheveldave, 18, and Taran Kozun, 17.
Cheveldave has played 119 minutes, with a 3.53 GAA and .854 save percentage. Kozun has seen just 30 minutes of playing time, stopping 21 of 24 shots.
“It’s a bit premature,” Charron said, “but he certainly has solidified an opportunity to be the starting goaltender on Sept. 24. We still have a couple of games. He’ll get another opportunity to play a game and, between the kids, we’ll see what evolves.”
The Blazers (1-2-1) entertain the Cougars (1-2-1) on Wednesday night, then visit Prince George on Friday.
On Saturday, the Rockets (4-0-0) completed a weekend sweep, having edged the Blazers 3-2 on Friday in Kamloops.
Kelowna got shootout goals from Tyson Baillie and Filip Vasko, while Tim Bozon and Matt Needham of the Blazers weren’t able to beat Kelowna goaltender Jordon Cooke.
Colton Heffley scored twice for Kelowna, with Austin Ferguson and Rigby Carter adding one each. Cole Ully, Tyler Hansen, J.C. Lipon and Needham had the regulation-time goals for Kamloops.
The Blazers erased a 3-1 second-period deficit and took a 4-3 lead on Needham’s goal at 15:20 of the third period. However, Heffley tied the score just 15 seconds later.
Cooke finished with 26 saves, while Lanigan stopped 37 shots.
“We fought through everything,” Charron said. “We were down by one goal going into the third. I remember last season . . . there might be a total breakdown and we’d lose the game 7-1 or 8-1.
“We fought hard in the second and third periods. We even took the lead. The disappointing thing is every shift after a goal is important and they scored on the very next shift. Hopefully, that is a learning experience.
“Still, the overall effort was good.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers continue to be without C Logan McVeigh (concussion) and D Landon Cross (groin), both of whom are listed as day-to-day. . . . McVeigh, who was injured on Sept. 3, had his first symptom-free day on Saturday. . . . As for Cross, a 17-year-old from Brandon, there is concern about him possibly aggravating the injury, so he won’t be rushed back. . . . Veteran LW Ryan Hanes came out of Saturday’s game nursing a charleyhorse-type injury to a thigh after a hit by Kelowna D Mitchell Chapman. Hanes also is day-to-day but may not be able to play Wednesday. . . . On Sunday, the Regina Pats dealt veteran G Damien Ketlo, 20, to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. The Hurricanes had dropped a 10-1 decision to the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Saturday.
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