|Alex Forsberg of the Prince George Cougars does a little high-stepping as he|
tries to avoid a pair of Kamloops Blazers on Friday night.
(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNANAsk not for whom the Bell tolled.
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
On Friday night at Interior Savings Centre, he tolled for the Kamloops Blazers.
Defenceman Tyler Bell, a 17-year-old from Regina in his first WHL season, broke a 3-3 tie at 2:19 of the third period and the Blazers won their season-high fifth straight game, beating the Prince George Cougars, 5-4.
The victory allowed the Blazers (19-7-1) to stay atop the B.C. Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Giants (18-10-2), who beat the Pats 4-1 in Regina. Kamloops is second in the Western Conference, a point behind the Tri-City Americans (20-7-0).
The Blazers are at home again tonight as they meet the Victoria Royals for the fourth time since Nov. 25. The Blazers are 4-0 against the Royals this season, including three victories in the last week.
Last night, the Royals (12-15-2) snapped a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna.
The Blazers and Rockets were locked in a 3-3 game — with goaltenders Cam Lanigan of Kamloops and Drew Owsley making some stellar saves — when Bell struck for his first WHL goal.
Bell said he just wanted to “get it on net.”
“It was a tight game and I couldn’t risk getting a blocked shot,” Bell said. “I saw an opening so I just shot it.
“It was a pretty good shot. I got all of it. It was pretty exciting . . . I was pretty excited.”
The goal, coming in his 15th game, also allowed Bell to keep up with his roommate, fellow-defenceman Landon Cross, a 17-year-old from Brandon. Cross scored his first goal Wednesday, in the Blazers’ 6-5 overtime victory in Victoria.
“In the house, he was beaking me a bit,” Bell said with a laugh. “We’re roomates and he was beaking me a bit with the billets.”
Left-winger Brendan Ranford extended the Blazers’ lead to 5-3 at 13:11, only to have centre Troy Bourke pull the Cougars to within one at 15:20.
Despite some late pressure from the Cougars, and three late faceoffs in the Kamloops zone, the Blazers were able to prevail.
Lanigan, who had sat and watched Cole Cheveldave start the last seven games, finished with 25 saves, none bigger than the one he made on left-winger Spencer Asuchak, who is from Kamloops, from eight feet with 1:01 left in the third period.
This was Teddy Bear/Toque Toss night and left-winger Tim Bozon, the Swiss freshman, unleashed the blizzard of stuffed toys at 12:54 of the first period.
Chase Souto and Matt Needham also scored for the Blazers, who led 2-1 and 3-2 at the breaks.
Alex Forsberg Jake Mykitiuk and Asuchak also scored for the Cougars (8-18-2), who play in Kelowna tonight.
“The Cougars came off a week off and I have to give them credit,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. “They play a certain way that makes it tough to capitalize. We were somewhat sluggish . . . we weren’t at the top of our game.
“We were making mistakes against a team that was playing pretty structured. They stayed with their plan . . . and made it tough on us.
But we found a way somehow and that’s one of those things that we’ve been doing lately.”
Bell agreed with his coach.
“We seemed sluggish in the first period,” he said. “Not using it as an excuse, but it was a long trip to Victoria. We were a little heavy (in the first period).
“But we settled own and we pulled it out, and that’s all that matters.”
Kamloops right-winger Jordan DePape, who had shoulder surgery four weeks ago, reports from Winnipeg that “things are going pretty well.”
He checks in with a physiotherapist every two weeks to learn new exercises and said he can feel his shoulder getting stronger.
“I am working out all through the week with a trainer — mostly legs,cardio and core,” he said.
He has been told that, if all goes well, he will be able to skate 12 weeks after surgery and is hoping to play after 16 weeks, which would be early March.
With the Blazers heading into the East Division next week, he will meet the team in Regina and travel with them from most of the six-game swing.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 4,086. . . . Owsley finished with 27 saves. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-4 on the power play; the Cougars were 1-for-3. . . . Prince George had to scratch G Devon Fordyce (knee), so had Jake Mattes of the junior B Chase Heat on the bench backing up Owsley. Mattes is from Kamloops. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. D Austin Madaisky, Kamloops: Steadying influence back there; 2. Needham: Regaining form he showed late last season; 3. D Jesse Forsberg, Prince George: Panic? What’s that?
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