|Chase Schaber (10) of the Kamloops Blazers goes upstairs on Tri-City|
goaltender Ty Rimmer during Saturday's game in Kennewick, Wash.
(Photo by John Allen / AridAcres.com)
By GREGG DRINNANIt’s not like Bronson Maschmeyer was standing at the bench, yelling “Put me in coach.”
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
But with the Kamloops Blazers and the host Tri-City Americans ensconced in a Saturday night shootout, the veteran defenceman got the call from associate coach Dave Hunchak.
So Maschmeyer, 20, went out and scored the goal that gave the Blazers a 4-3 victory in the WHL’s first clash of the titans this season.
“When a shootout comes, there are the certain guys they go to,” Maschmeyer said on Sunday. “The thought didn’t really come through that I’m going to be in. But you always have in the back of your mind, ‘If I go in, what would I do?’ ”
Head coach Guy Charron said he turned the decision over to Hunchak.
“The last few times, I have called upon guys we had success with last season,” Charron said. “This time, I thought, ‘I’ve got a competent guy with me,’ so I said, ‘Here, Hunch, you call them. You’ll probably have better luck than I will.’
“And he did. So I said, ‘From now on I won’t be calling the guys for the shootout.’ ”
Hunchak then walked over and told Maschmeyer to “get ready.”
“I felt like, ‘For what?’” Maschmeyer said with a chuckle, pointing out that it was the first time in his entire career that he has been an active participant in a shootout.
Forward Chase Schaber shot first in the shootout, and gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead. Tri-City forward Adam Hughesman followed with a miss, and that brought up Maschmeyer.
“I was a little bit nervous, which is kind of neat,” said Maschmeyer, who had scored the winning goal in Friday’s 5-3 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds. “I went out there and went down and did a move and scored.”
And then what?
“It was kind of weird because I didn’t know how to react,” he said. “You go out and hope . . . you’re going out there and thinking for the best. But when it actually goes in and it’s your first one, you’re thinking, ‘OK, that went in.’
“You start skating by their bench and you’re thinking, ‘That went in!’ And then you go by your bench and you see everyone excited and then you’re all pumped up, ‘THAT WENT IN!’
“It was kind of neat. I don’t know how the decision came about but I’m glad it worked out.”
When Tri-City forward Patrick Holland followed with a miss, the Blazers had the victory.
It also meant that when the Blazers (34-10-3) boarded their bus and headed for home, they were riding high atop the WHL’s overall standings, two points ahead of the Americans (34-11-1) and the Eastern Conference-leading Edmonton Oil Kings (32-11-5).
While the Blazers now go to Kelowna for a date with the Rockets on Wednesday, the Americans are heading into Alberta for three games. They will start in Edmonton on Wednesday.
The Blazers, who haven’t lost this month, have won nine straight games. They are 6-0-2 in their last eight road games. In their last 15 games, they are 12-1-2, the only regulation loss by a 6-3 score to the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Dec. 30.
On Saturday, the Americans took a 1-0 lead on forward Justin Feser’s 23rd goal just 4:10 into the game.
However, Schaber pulled the Blazers even just 45 seconds later and winger Brendan Ranford gave them the lead with a power-play goal seven minutes after that.
Schaber added his second of the game, and fourth in two games, at 5:28 of the second period to give the Blazers a 3-1 lead.
“It was a huge game,” said Maschmeyer, who was playing in his 191st consecutive game with Kamloops. “But we went into it saying, ‘We understand this is for first place,’ but we didn’t want to play it up . . . we wanted to focus on what Blazers hockey is. I think we did that for the most part but there was a span of abut three minutes in the second period . . .”
That was in the period’s last five minutes when Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman scored 35 seconds apart to forge a tie.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave finished with 27 saves, two fewer than Tri-City’s Ty Rimmer.
“When Cole Cheveldave plays,” Charron said, “I always feel he is going to give us a chance to win. As poor as the first goal was, he’s one of those young men who inspires confidence in the coaching staff and his teammames. He finished very well . . . and allowed us to find a way to win.”
Cheveldave improved to 25-5-3 on the season; he has won his last nine decisions. It also was his first victory in three shootouts.
“A great game between two of the top teams,” Shinnimin told the Tri-City Herald. “I thought we had a chance to win. We had a lot of opportunities in the third. Their goalie stood on his head, and they beat us in the shootout.
“It hurts. This is tough to swallow.”
JUST NOTES: The Blazers are 11-1-1 against U.S. Division teams. . . . Ranford had a goal and two assists. He has points in 21 of his last 24 games, putting up 36 points, 12 of them goals, in that time. . . . Kamloops F Tim Bozon had his nine-game point streak snapped by the Americans. He put up 14 points, including seven goals, over the nine gmes. . . . The Blazers scratched F Jordan DePape (shoulder), D Brady Gaudet (concussion), F Ryan Hanes (concussion) and F Brandon Herrod (knee). Gaudet, who has missed eight games, and Hanes, who has sat out 12, are skating. Gaudet may return Wednesday in Kelowna. . . . Herrod is to see a doctor today. It he doesn’t play in Kelowna, he may get back in when the Blazers play the Royals in Victoria on Friday and Saturday.