Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winger Dylan Willick of the Kamloops Blazers (11) tries to shovel a bouncing
puck past Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit on Saturday night.
That’s Edmonton defenceman Mason Geertsen (24) moving in to help his goaltender.
(Photo by Hugo Yuen / Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
If this was Hollywood, they would never be in the running for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
If they got stars on the Walk of Fame, they would be down the block and around the corner, not in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
But, on Saturday night, the so-called fourth liners, the supporting actors, if you will, were front and centre as the Kamloops Blazers scored a 5-2 WHL victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings before 4,134 fans at Interior Savings Centre.
“They weren’t the fourth line tonight,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. “They set the tempo.”
“The fourth line,” said Kamloops defenceman Austin Madaisky, “had a helluva game. They played a great game.”
The Oil Kings were playing their fourth game in five nights and the Blazers knew it. The visitors also were without highly touted defenceman Griffin Reinhart and forward Klarc Wilson, both of whom suffered undisclosed injuries in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday.
Knowing that, Charron started his fourth line, which was kind of like putting three Roadrunners out there against Wile E. Coyote right at the end of the 20-minute cartoon.
The fourth liners? The supporting cast? That would be Ryan Hanes, Chase Souto and Aspen Sterzer, and they spent the game’s first shift hammering away deep in Edmonton’s zone.
“Hanes hit one of their key players early and hurt him,” Charron said. “Then he came back and (Hanes) hit him again.”
Defenceman Mark Pysyk, the Oil Kings’ captain and a first-round selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 NHL draft, didn’t return for the second period.
“We had to take the body,” Hanes said. “We were focused on getting pucks deep and taking the body.”
“That line,” Charron continued, “really set the tempo for the start of the hockey game and they played exceptionally well throughout the whole game.”
Still, the Blazers, who held a 22-1 edge in shots in the second period — at game’s end, it was 46-23 — and took a 3-0 lead into the third, weren’t able to shake the Oil Kings until late in the third period.
The Blazers got power-play goals from forwards Chase Schaber, in the first period, and Dylan Willick, in the second, and a goal from Tim Bozon late in the second for that 3-0 lead.
But the Oil Kings got a pair of third-period goals — defenceman Keegan Lowe scored on a shorthanded breakaway and winger Kristians Pelss put a short-side shot past goaltender Cam Lanigan — to throw a scare into the locals.
That was short-lived, however, as J.C. Lipon beat goaltender Laurent Brossoit just 2:28 after Pelss’ goal and Souto, with assists to Sterzer and Hanes, rather fittingly iced it just 52 seconds after that.
“We were hoping in the third period to play good, solid defence and not give them a sniff,” Charron said. “But when you turn the puck over at the blue-line and give a breakaway, and the other goal is from a really poor angle . . . that certainly gave them momentum.
“But we stuck to the program and the guys regrouped on the bench . . . and we were rewarded for our efforts.”
Hanes admitted to being concerned when his side’s lead shrivelled to one; in fact, he said he almost took action.
“I was thinking about fighting,” he said, “but it turned out we didn’t need the boost and we came out with the win.”
Hanes also drew two hooking penalties early in the second period, both times getting hauled down in the vicinity of the Edmonton net. It was those early power-play opportunities that helped to get Kamloops rolling in what was an incredibly dominant middle period.
The 19-year-old, who is the lone Kamloops native on the roster, also had ample opportunity to add to his two-goal total.
“I’m getting a lot of chances,” he said. “I just have to bear down on them.”
“But that’s not my job,” he added with a laugh.
After the weekend’s action had concluded, the Blazers (13-6-0) were fourth in the Western Conference, four points behind the Tri-City Americans. However, the Blazers hold the conference’s second-best winning percentage (.684).
They won’t play again until Friday and Saturday when they hit the road for games with the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans.
Kamloops next plays at home on Nov. 23 when the defending-champion Kootenay Ice is at Interior Savings Centre. The Ice last played in Kamloops on Nov 27, 2009, when it won 6-5 in a shootout.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers were 2-for-6 on the power play; the Oil Kings were 0-for-2. . . . Lanigan stopped 21 shots in beating his ex-teammates. He was acquired from the Oil Kings, for G Jon Groenheyde, on Nov. 4, 2010. . . . Veteran D Josh Caron was among the Blazers’ scratches. Charron said it was a coach’s decision, the second time Caron has been a healthy scratch this season. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Hanes: He got the ball rolling; 2. Brossoit: Kept his side in it in the second period; 3. D Tyler Bell, Kamloops: Asserted himself. . . . Kamloops C Colin Smith is scheduled to leave today for Regina where he will play for the WHL in a Subway Super Series game against a Russian team on Wednesday. He will rejoin the Blazers in Spokane on Thursday. . . . Ted Smigielski, a member of the Blazers’ board of directors when the team was a non-profit society, has died. He was 74 when cancer claimed him on Nov. 7. An informal memorial tea is scheduled for Thursday, 2 p.m., at the Hal Rogers Kinsmen Centre, 2025 Summit Dr.
In the overall scheme of things, it was a small play. But at game’s end it loomed large.
With the Kamloops Blazers holding a 1-0 lead more than 13 minutes into the second period of Saturday’s WHL game, defenceman Austin Madaisky, on the point on a power play, made a diving play to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone.
Four seconds later, it was in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ net and the home side was on its way to a 5-2 WHL victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings.
“Their defenceman tried to clear it and kind of fanned on it,” said Madaisky, who had centre Colin Smith as his point partner on the PP. “He’s kind of playing rover, so I’m kind of the lone man up there and have to cover a lot of ground. Luckily, I think I have the longest stick on the team. I dove for it and managed to keep it in.
“I got up as quick as I could and saw (Brendan)Ranford pop out at the side of the net. I tried to throw it low to him and he made a nice play to (Dylan Willick) and he put it in the net.”
That goal gave the Blazers a 2-0 lead; less than three minutes later it was 3-0 and, although the Oil Kings closed to 3-2 in the third period, this one was over.
“That was probably the worst effort of the year for us,” said Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal, whose club was playing its fourth road game in five nights — it went 1-2-1. “We weren’t moving our feet. We weren’t winning any battles. We didn’t have energy or intensity.”
At the same time, Laxdal was quick to give credit to the Blazers.
“They have a good hockey club and they’re worked hard to get where they’ve gotten to,” he said. “Hats off to them. They outworked us. They deserved the two points.”
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