Monday, January 2, 2012

Herrod, Blazers crown Cougars

Brandon Herrod of the Kamloops Blazers beats goaltender Drew Owsley
of the Prince George Cougars early in the second period on Saturday.

(Photo by Hugo Yuen / Kamloops Daily News)
 By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
It was getting late on the first evening of 2012 and Brandon Herrod was looking tired but satisfied.
As well he should have after a day that went something like this:
Up at 5 a.m. — 3 a.m. Pacific time. Fly Saskatoon to Vancouver to Kamloops. Meet new teammates and coaches. Play a regular shift. See time on the power play. Help on the penalty kill. Get involved in a line brawl.
Yes, it was quite a day as Herrod helped goaltender Cole Cheveldave and the Kamloops Blazers to a 5-0 WHL victory over the Prince George Cougars at Interior Savings Centre.
Herrod, 20, was in his fifth WHL season with the Prince Albert Raiders when he was traded to the Blazers on Saturday morning.
The Blazers gave up sophomore forward Logan McVeigh, 17, and a 2012 second-round bantam draft pick in the exchange. McVeigh, a second-round selection in the 2009 draft, had 16 points, including five goals, in 34 games this season.
Herrod, who arrived here Sunday with 241 points in 314 regular-season games, all with the Raiders, also was in his first season as Prince Albert’s captain.
With the Raiders having acquired forward Anthony Bardaro, 19, from the Spokane Chiefs earlier in the week, Herrod, with 36 points in 40 games this season, felt something was going to happen. He just didn’t know it would involve him.
“There are always rumours going around,” Herrod, a native of Meadow Lake, Sask., said. “A couple of those rumours were with me and some of it was with Kamloops. But I wasn’t sure if it was for real or when it was going to happen.”
Herrod and Justin Maylan, a 20-year-old forward with 49 points, had talked about whether either of them might be traded.
Herrod scored twice for the Raiders in a 9-4 loss to the Blades in Saskatoon on Friday, then, as he said, “I got the call Saturday morning.”
“P.A. has been my home for a long time,” he continued. “It was a tough thing to take at first but . . . I’m really excited to come out here and be on a contender.”
While the Raiders (14-23-3) are 11th in the 12-team Eastern Conference, the Blazers (26-10-3) are second in the Western Conference, just three points behind the Tri-City Americans (29-7-0), who hold three games in hand.
The Americans, who have won 10 straight games, will visit Kamloops on Jan. 11.
Between now and then, the Blazers and Cougars will play twice, on Friday and Saturday, in Prince George.
The Cougars, 13-23-2 and two points out of a playoff spot, were missing seven regulars and were no match for the Blazers on New Year’s Day.
“We struggle to score,” offered Prince George head coach Dean Clark. “We had chances to score and we needed to bury them.”
Yes, they had chances, mostly in the first period when Cheveldave stopped 10 shots. He finished with 22 saves in posting his second shutout of his freshman season, both against the Cougars. He now has an 18-5-3 record and has put himself clearly in the running for the conference’s rookie-of-the-year award.
Tim Bozon and Cole Ully each scored twice for Kamloops, which held period leads of 1-0 and 3-0, and counted three times with the man advantage. Herrod had the other goal, giving the home boys a 2-0 lead on a 5-on-3 power play at 1:12 of the second period.
When Bozon scored his first goal, and 18th of the season, at 4:59, this one was over.
Herrod, who now has 19 goals, is a right winger by trade; however, he spent his last few weeks with the Raiders centring Maylan and sophomore Mike Winther. When Herrod arrived in Kamloops he was put between Chase Schaber, a centre who moved to left wing, and Brendan Ranford, a left-hand shot who moved to his off wing.
“It’s a bit of an experiment,” offered Kamloops head coach Guy Charron. “Between (Herrod) and Schaber, they don’t care where they play. We’ll see how it goes.”
Of his new player, Charron added: “He’s a very steady, dependable type of player. He’s strong on the puck. He brings a lot of elements that as we move along in the second half are going to be important.”
If first impressions mean anything, Herrod also is good in the faceoff circle, something that is important to Charron.
“I thought he was exceptional,” Charron said. “That’s a big, big thing with me. If you win faceoffs, you’re going to be getting a lot of ice time.”
Herrod, for one, feels he can still do better.
“Those guys are really respected around the league,” he said of his new linemates. “It may have been a little nerve-wracking.”
That and a little tiring.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,707. . . . Both teams will be fined by the WHL for the linebrawl that occurred with one minute to play in the third period. . . . Schaber picked up an assist that was his 150th career regular-season point. It came in his 251st game. . . . Kamloops D Bronson Maschmeyer also had an assist, his 100th career point. It came in game No. 231. . . . The Blazers are 4-2-0 against the Cougars this season. . . . Cheveldave blanked the Cougars 3-0 here on Oct. 25. . . . The Cougars have been shut out five times this season. . . . Blazers F Jordan DePape, who hasn’t played since Oct. 10 because of a shoulder injury, skated with the Manitoba Major Junior league’s St. Boniface Riels on Monday. It was his first time in full equipment since he had shoulder surgery on Nov. 4. DePape, 19, isn’t expected back in the Blazers’ lineup until sometime in March. . . . Ully has five goals this season and three of them are game-winners. He has scored in only three games — with two two-goal games — so has the winner in each game in which he has scored. . . . Madaisky has eight points, including four goals, in a six-game point streak. . . . Kamloops D Jordan Thomson is on his way back to the midget AAA Southwest Cougars, who play out of Souris, Man. Thomson, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 bantam draft, had one goal in four games with the Blazers. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. Maschmeyer: Quietly goes about his business; 2. Cheveldave: He’s the man; 3. Bozon: Two goals, an assist and lots of creativity. . . . Cam Thompson of Radio NL worked his last game as the man on the microphone in the stands. He is leaving for a job with CBS Radio in Washington, D.C.

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