Friday, November 25, 2011

Blazers reign over Royals

Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave has the answer
as Brandon Magee of the Victoria Royals tries to beat him
Friday night at Interiors Savings Centre.

(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
 By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Turnovers? Grandma’s kitchen never saw anything like this.
Odd-man breaks? More than there’ve been from any Mexican jail.
The Kamloops Blazers benefited from all of that and more as they dropped the Victoria Royals 4-1 in a WHL game played at Interior Savings Centre on Friday night.
The Blazers (15-7-1) are 3-1-1 in their last five games. They get right back at it tonight against the Seattle Thunderbirds, who dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the visiting Prince George Cougars last night. Game time at ISC is 7 o’clock.
The Royals 11-13-1), who meet the Rockets in Kelowna tonight, have lost six of seven.
This one was ugly, pretty much from start to finish, but especially so in the second period.
The Royals stumbled so badly in the middle period that Marc Habscheid, their general manager/head coach, called time out at 6:35. At that point, the Royals were trailing 2-0 and being outshot 23-6. Habscheid informed them of exactly that, although perhaps not in those words.
“The amount of pucks we turn over in the neutral zone is astonishing,” Habscheid said. “They get it and it goes back in, and you end up spending too much time in your own end.”
And, last night, it could have been worse . . . much worse.
Erratic shooting? Jimmy Breslin’s gang that couldn’t shoot straight had nothing on the Blazers on this night.
The Royals gave the home boys more pucks and more odd-man rushes than they could have wished for, and the locals oftentimes returned the favour by shooting high, wide or both.
That is why the Blazers led only 3-0 in the third period when the Royals’ power-play gave them a breath of life.
“What we need to learn is . . . as dominant as we were,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said, “I thought we took two bad penalties in the third period. That, to me, is undisciplined.”
With the Blazers on the power play, defenceman Bronson Maschmeyer took an interference penalty. Less than a minute after Kamloops killed that one, winger Chase Souto went off for hooking.
Victoria centre Kevin Sundher scored on the power play to get the visitors to within two.
“Now you allow the other team to get back in it,” Charron said. “The penalty killing has done a tremendous job and we put our penalty killing in that situation. You can’t.
“We have to get better at those things so that we can be the team that we are expected to be.”
The Blazers also may have caught a break when referee Mike Campbell waved off what might have been a late Victoria goal. The Royals went to the net hard and the puck crossed the line, but Campbell waved it off and ruled that goaltender Cole Cheveldave had been pushed into the net.
“We hung around,” Habscheid said, “and I’m not sure about that disallowed goal. (Cheveldave) was tripped on the play . . . that’s a hockey play. And then it’s 3-2 and you never know. That gives us more energy.”
“You never know,” Charron echoed.
The Blazers got a solid effort from Cheveldave, who finished with 17 saves, about six of them coming from a flurry late in the second period when the Royals enjoyed the man advantage.
“He’s a competiive ittle bugger,” Charron said of the freshman from Calgary. “His work eithic in practice . . . he never gives up on a shot and he gets upset when things don’t go well for him.”
The Blazers got two goals from Dylan Willick, the second one into an empty net, with Chase Schaber and Colin Smith getting the others.
Kamloops again got good mileage from Smith’s line, with Tim Bozon and J.C. Lipon on the wings. They earned a lot of chances, but were guilty of some erratic shooting.
“It just wasn’t going in for me,” said Lipon, who twice fired high and wide when he was in close. “It’s nice to get all the chances, though. They were going in earlier in the year . . . they’ll come.”
Lipon especially was pleased with the way the Blazers dominated the Royals last night because these teams will meet again.
“We beat them 8-2 before but we knew they would come out hard tonight,” he said. “We play these guys four times in the next two weeks. We wanted to send a message right off the bat.”
———
The plan was for the Royals to travel to Kamloops on Thursday, via the 1 p.m. ferry from Swartz Bay. However, inclement weather resulted in repeated sailing cancellations, so they returned to the capital and caught the 11 a.m. ferry yesterday.
The Blazers are to play a doubleheader in Victoria next week and plan on leaving Tuesday morning for a game there that night.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,725. . . . The Royals were 1-for-5 on the power play; the Blazers were 0-for-5. . . . Victoria G Keith Hamilton finished with 36 saves. . . . Victoria D Tyler Stahl, 19, sat out his 21st straight game since suffering a concussion on Oct. 1 in Prince George. Cougars F Charles Inglis served a 10-game suspension for the hit to the head that put Stahl on the shelf. . . . The Royals have released F Brendan Persley, 18, who is from Kelowna. Persley, who had one goal in nine games, missed all of training camp and the early part of the season with mononucleosis. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. D Marek Hrbas, Kamloops. Strong and physical; 2. Willick: Two goals, strong defence; 3. Lipon: Lots of jump, lots of chances.
  
gdrinnan@kamloopsnews.ca
     
gdrinnan.blogspot.com
     
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