Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Winterhawks give Blazers the shaft

Winger Brad Ross (18) of the Portland Winterhawks and Kamloops
defenceman Austin Madaisky fight for position, while Blazers
goaltender Cole Cheveldave searches for the puck.

(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
Daily News Sports Editor
The Portland Winterhawks got the two points and the Kamloops Blazers got the shaft — twice — on Wednesday night at Interior Savings Centre.
The Winterhawks, seven games into a 17-day, nine-game road trip, scored a 4-2 victory over the Blazers before 3,846 fans, and the visitors had the shafts of two sticks to thank.
The Blazers, trailing 3-2 nine minutes into the third period, came within an inch or two of tying it when left-winger Tim Bozon’s shot through traffic was headed into an empty net until it appeared to strike the shaft of a stick and bounce harmlessly away.
Less than four minutes later, the Blazers dumped the puck into the Portland zone. Goaltender Mac Carruth left his net to play it, then had to dive back as the puck hit a defender’s stick and headed for the vacated net. Carruth’s stick, extended well in front of him, kept the puck out of the net.
And so it was that the Blazers (11-4-0) had their four-game winning streak come to an end. They remain tied with the Tri-City Americans (11-5-0) for the Western Conference lead, two points ahead of the Winterhawks (9-7-2), who are 3-3-1 on this lengthy trip.
The Winterhawks, an outfit with arrogance and swagger that is fueled at least in part by the irritation that is Carruth, are a high-risk outfit that feeds off a transition game. For a while in the second period, the Blazers got caught up in the visitors’ game and were guilty of far too many turnovers high in their zone and in the neutral zone. The result was that Portland outshot the home boys, 18-11, and outscored them, 2-1.
In the end, that is where the Blazers lost the game.
The Winterhawks took control with two quick goals early in the second period, defenceman Tyler Wotherspoon scoring on a high slapshot through traffic and winger Sven Bartschi slapping in a rebound moments after he had been stoned on a breakaway.
Bartschi, who also drew two assists, was playing his first game after missing six with a hip injury.
The Blazers, however, got life when left-winger Logan McVeigh pulled the trigger on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break at 10:37. It was McVeigh’s second goal of the season, both of which have come while shorthanded.
Still, Portland wasn’t able to put this one on ice until 16:44 of the third period when centre Ty Rattie potted his 12th goal of the season, this one via the power play.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave suffered his first WHL loss after five victories, but he was solid in a 40-save performance. Carruth, meanwhile, stopped 24 shots.
Portland’s Charles Wells, 57 seconds into the game, and centre Colin Smith of the Blazers, at 18:41 of the first period, also scored.
The Blazers will play the Cougars in Prince George on Friday and Saturday nights.
JUST NOTES: The Blazers were 1-for-6 on the power play; the Winterhawks were 1-for-5. . . . McVeigh’s goal was the Blazers’ seventh shorthanded tally of the season. They scored four all of last season. . . . Kamloops D Austin Madaisky had a tough night, finishing minus-3, but scored the hit of the night when he stepped up and lowered the boom on Rattie 14 minutes into the game. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. Bartschi: Gotta think he could help the Calgary Flames; 2. Cheveldave: Solid; 3. Rattie: Sometimes it’s his puck. . . . By the time the Winterhawks get home, they will have covered about 4,200 kilometres. . . . The Blazers next home game is Nov. 11 against the Red Deer Rebels. Game time will be 2 p.m. After the game, fans who bring their skates will be able to dangle with the Blazers.
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