Friday, October 28, 2011

Shane McColgan and Damon Severson of the Kelowna Rockets have
Dylan Willick of the Kamloops Blazers under wraps here, but Willick
scored twice in a 5-2 Kamloops victory on Friday night.

(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
 By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Guy Charron, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, was like a clown with a painted face on Friday night.
He may have been smiling on the outside, but there was a big frown underneath it all.
Yes, his Blazers had just scored a 5-2 WHL victory over the Kelowna Rockets, before 4,123 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
Yes, the Blazers improved to 10-3-0 and moved into a tie for first place with the idle Tri-City Americans (10-5-0) atop the Western Conference.
And, yes, the Blazers now are nine points ahead of the Rockets as they go into tonight’s rematch in the Little Apple.
But the home boys got into penalty trouble in the third period — they gave the visitors five power-play opportunities — and that meant the head coach was more than a little disgruntled.
“What’s disappointing for me,” Charron said, “is that we’ve been disciplined all season and in the third period we gave up five powers plays. That’s just ridiculous.
“Whether you say they were good calls or bad calls, to me they were undisciplined penalties and that’s not good enough for our hockey club.”
The Blazers have been able to avoid the penalty box for most of this season, but that wasn’t the case in the third period. The power-play time allowed the Rockets, who had been overmatched through 40 minutes, to outshoot their hosts 16-8 in the period — and 37-34 in the game — and only the goaltending of Cole Cheveldave kept the final spread at three.
Cheveldave, a freshman from Calgary, ran his record to 5-0-0 with a solid 32-save effort. This was his first start since giving up four goals and getting the hook in what turned into a 7-4 victory over the Hurricanes in Lethbridge one week earlier. Cam Lanigan came on in relief and got that victory, then beat the Tigers 2-1 in Medicine Hat the next night.
Cheveldave, Charron said, is “a very competitive young man. He was disappointed in his performance in Lethbridge. That’s why we didn’t want to delay his next game too long. We knew he wanted an opportunity to prove himself and show the kind of goaltender he is. He certainly proved that tonight.”
Dylan Willick led the Blazers with two goals, the last one the team’s sixth shorthanded goal in 13 games, and was a threat all game.
“We had the whole week off . . . we were bouncing off the walls ready to play,” said Willick, who has seven goals, all of them in his last nine games. “When things are going well you just want to get back on that ice. That’s exactly how it was.”
As for the third-period shenanigans, Willick said “it’s a learning process.”
“We’re learning how to hold on to (a lead) . . . but we can’t be giving them opportunities like that,” he added. “At least we’re learning while we’re winning. But we need to learn pretty fast.”
Tim Bozon, Brendan Ranford and Chase Schaber also scored for the Blazers, who led 1-0 and 4-1 at the breaks. Tyrell Goulbourne and Madison Bowey replied for the Rockets, who are missing five regulars to injury. As well, head coach Ryan Huska said that goaltender Jordon Cooke, who replaced Adam Brown 51 seconds into the third period, “is fighting something, too.”
“It’s tough,” Huska said of having to play through injuries. “The frustrating part is I thought we played pretty well tonight. I thought we did a lot of good things.
“We made a mistake on their third goal which I thought kind of deflated us, but we found a way to keep working which is a positive sign for our team.”
Despite the early-season woes — the Rockets are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games — Huska hasn’t lost his sense of humour.
Peter Soberlak, the chairman of TRU’s physical education department, helps out as the Rockets’ sports psychologist. He was in the Kelowna coaches’ room after the game.
So, all things considered, how is Huska doing?
“I’m great,” he said with a laugh. “That’s why (Soberlak’s) in there.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers were 2-for-4 on the PP; the Rockets were 1-for-8. . . . The Blazers scored four shorthanded goals all of last season. . . . The Rockets dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . Linesman Kris Hartley of Kamloops celebrated his 30th birthday yesterday. His fellow officials surprised him with a banner, a balloon and some noise before the game. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Willick: Two goals and lots of jump; 2. Cheveldave: Teammates owe him lunch after third-period show; 3. Schaber: Strong defensively and lots of chances. . . . D Jordan Thomson, the Blazers’ first pick in the 2011 bantam draft, had a goal and two assists for Manitoba as it beat Saskatchewan 7-3 at the U-16 Challenge Cup in Moose Jaw yesterday. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders, who have lost four straight games, made a coaching change on Friday evening, removing Bruno Campese from behind the bench and promoting Steve Young, the assistant general manager/associate coach, to head coach. Campese, who has been with the Raiders since June 21, 2007, remains the general manager. The Raiders, who are at home to the Saskatoon Blades tonight, are 4-11-2 and in 10th spot in the Eastern Conference.

gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
     
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
     
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