|Tim Bozon of the Kamloops Blazers scores one of his two goals on Everett|
goaltender Kent Simpson on Saturday night.
(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports EditorA fighter on Friday night, Tim Bozon reverted to his scoring ways 24 hours later to help the Kamloops Blazers to a rather workmanlike 5-2 WHL victory over the Everett Silvertips at Interior Savings Centre.
One night after scoring four goals in the first 6:02 of a 7-1 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, the Blazers scored two first-period goals and never trailed against Everett.
The victory allowed the Blazers (31-10-3) to close ground on the Western Conference-leading Tri-City Americans (33-9-0), who were beaten 5-3 by the Chiefs in Spokane. Kamloops now trails the Americans, who also lead the WHL’s overall standings, by just one point. The Americans next play this afternoon when they meet the Winterhawks in Portland.
The Blazers, having won six straight games, are at home again Wednesday, 7 p.m. This time the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who are 16-29-1 and coming off 6-3 and 4-2 losses to the Cougars in Prince George, will provide the opposition.
The Blazers also have stretched their B.C. Division-lead to 11 points over the Vancouver Giants, who were beaten 4-3 by the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Saturday. The Giants were without forwards Brendan Gallagher and Dalton Sward, defenceman David Musil (wrist) and goaltender Adam Morrison. Gallagher, Sward and Morrison were injured during an 11-4 loss to the visiting Americans on Friday and are to be re-evaluated today.
On Saturday, the Blazers took control on first-period goals by forwards Brandon Herrod, his 20th, and Bozon, his 21st, while outshooting the Silvertips, 14-4.
“We tried to have the same start as (Friday),” said Bozon, his right eyelid bearing a souvenir from his Friday night fight with Seattle defenceman Dave Sutter, a pal from Switzerland. “First 10 minutes . . . I think we got a good start.”
When forward Chase Schaber counted the Blazers’ WHL-leading 14th shorthanded goal at 2:25 of the second period, they held a 3-0 lead and the writing was on the wall.
Give the Silvertips credit, though, because the Western Conference’s 10th place team didn’t go away. But while the visitors would get to within 3-1 and 4-2, they couldn’t get any closer.
“We needed one more goal there,” offered Everett winger J.T. Barnett, who was acquired from the Blazers on Nov. 14. Barnett had a goal and an assist for Everett, with defenceman Ryan Murray scoring its other goal.
Bozon and Brock Balson, with his first goal in 23 games with the Blazers, added third-period goals.
Bozon, the son of former NHLer Philippe Bozon, has 22 goals in 44 games. Bozon said he went into this season aiming for 35 goals. That came after numerous conversations with Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter, who put in 36 with the Portland Winterhawks in his freshman season (2009-10) and told Bozon what he could expect in the WHL. Niederreiter now is with the NHL’s New York Islanders.
“We talk a lot,” Bozon said. “He is a good experience for me. I speak a lot with him on how he did here.”
One of the keys to the Blazers’ victory was the way in which they mostly took Everett defenceman Ryan Murray out of the game. Murray, as good as any defender in the WHL, did score a power-play goal, but that was about the only noise he made.
“When he’s on the ice you have to recognize who you’re playing against,” stated Kamloops forward Dylan Willick. “Give him a lane and he’ll take it.”
Willick twice blocked Murray point shots and was feeling it.
“I took one on shin pad, and that’s always the best place to take it,” he said. “The other one got me above pad and below pants. Arghhhh!”
As solidly as the Blazers played, a niggling loose thread appeared late when they took the game’s last four minor penalties. It only resulted in one Everett power-play goal, but . . .
“There’s a need to correct that,” Willick said. “It wears the guys down who are (killing penalties). We have to learn to sit back a little bit and watch our sticks.”
Kamloops head coach Guy Charron admitted he was “pleased overall.”
He especially liked the way his side was able to roll four lines against a team that had played Friday night and then travelled through the night to get here.
“They had a long night and we knew that,” he said. “Our work ethic makes it harder for teams that have a little bit of fatigue. The way we play, rolling everybody, it allowed us to fatigue them even more.”
At the same time, Charron admitted at least some concern with the late penalties.
“We have to learn that we can’t put ourselves in those positions,” he said. “Penalties will cost you when they’re one after another after another. If you spread them out, your penalty killers are fresh. When you keep getting them one after the other you are asking for trouble.”
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 3,899. . . . Kamloops G Cole Cheveldave, making his sixth straight start and 23rd in the last 25 games, stopped 24 shots in improving to 23-5-3. . . . Everett G Kent Simpson made 30 saves. . . . Balson had one goal in 48 games with the Prince Albert Raiders last season. He has a goal and three helpers with the Blazers. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. Bozon: Two goals, no pugilistic activity; 2. D Austin Madaisky, Kamloops: Controlled things, finished plus-4; 3. Willick: Big shot blocks on Murray. . . . Barnett tweaked a knee while stretching Saturday but was able to play. However, he was scratched from Sunday’s game against visiting Kelowna. . . . Everett D Josh Caron, who had been scratched Friday because he was ill, played Saturday. The Silvertips acquired him from the Blazers on Nov. 29.