Friday, February 17, 2012

Pouliot backstops Rebels past Blazers

Tim Bozon of the Kamloops Blazers beat Red Deer goaltender Bolton
Pouliot here, but the Rebels had the last laugh with a 3-2 victory
on Friday night.

(Photo by Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)

Daily News Sports Editor
It happens.
Every once in a while man bites dog, David beats Goliath, Buster Douglas takes out Mike Tyson.
On Friday night, it happened at the Interior Savings Centre as the Red Deer Rebels, with seven regulars out of the lineup and their starting goaltender on the limp, scored a 3-2 victory over the Kamloops Blazers.
The Blazers, who lead the WHL’s overall standings at 41-13-4, had won nine in a row — and 15 of 16 — at home. They last lost at home on Dec. 30 when the Calgary Hitmen, who are here tonight, posted a 6-3 victory.
The Rebels, now 26-26-5, came in having lost two in a row. They are eight points out of the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot.
On top of that, Jesse Wallin, the Rebels’ general manager and head coach, was forced into using starting a goaltender who had yet to win in this league.
“I didn’t know I was playing until five minutes left in warmup,” offered Bolton Pouliot, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary who got the start because Deven Dubyk, 20, is fighting a sore back and the flu. “Jesse said you’re going to go in. I took the opportunity . . . it was pretty exciting.”
(Dubyk actually is the Rebels’ second No. 1 goaltender this season. Patrik Bartosak, a Czech freshman, was having a terrific season when his season was ended by shoulder surgery. Dubyk was then brought in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos.)
Pouliot was making his third appearance of 2012 — he came on in relief on Jan. 6 and Feb. 4 — and his first start since Dec. 9, when the Rebels dropped a 5-3 decision to the Brandon Wheat Kings. He actually played more minutes last night (60) than he did in his previous three appearances combined (36).
Pouliot, who now is 1-4-2, didn’t face a whole lot of pressure from a Kamloops team that was clearly out of sync, but he held the fort in the third period when his guy were outshot, 16-3.
“That was to be expected, especially with the quality of team they have,” Pouliot said of the third-period onslaught.
His best stop came at 18:26, when he took what appeared to be a sure-fire score away from defenceman Austin Madaisky, who had taken a back-door pass from Colin Smith and thought he was looking at an open net. Pouliot, however, was able to get his glove on the shot.
Asked if any one save stood out, Pouliot shook his head.
“Just solid,” he said, after making 37 saves. “Just stop the puck.”
Pouliot did admit that there was a personal touch to this game as he dates Sierra Sterzer, a sister to Kamloops forward Aspen Sterzer, who was scratched last night.
“All summer we go at each other, chirping back and forth,” Pouliot said with a laugh.
While the Blazers didn’t have anything to laugh about after this one, they were in it right to the end.
The score was 2-2 late in the third period when centre Charles Inglis, whom the Rebels acquired from the Prince George Cougars on Dec. 29, beat forward Brandon Herrod off the right boards in the Kamloops zone.
“I was just trying to rag the puck . . . looking for guys coming in,” Inglis said, “because I saw our guys were changing. I was hoping for a trailer. I shoulder-checked and I had a lot more room than I thought. So I walked to the middle, threw it on net and luckily she went in.”
Just prior to the goal, which came at 17:37, Inglis said he and Kamloops winger Brendan Ranford were chirping at each other from their benches.
“He told me he was going to score next shift,” said Inglis, who has 17 goals. “I said, ‘Nah, I’m going to score.’ ”
Inglis now has scored two game-winners for two different teams at the ISC this season. He had the game’s only goal on Sept. 24 when the Cougars beat the Blazers 1-0 in Kamloops’ home-opener.
Ranford had scored his 33rd goal of the season to forge a 2-2 tie at 17:02 of the second.
“We didn’t rise to the challenge for 40 minutes,” Kamloops head coach Guy Charron said. “In the third period, they had one scoring chance. They scored. They only had three shots on goal. For the first 40 minutes, 5-on-5, they outplayed us.
“As well as (Pouliot) played, if we could have sustained the pressure that we did in the third period for 60 minutes, maybe we would have had a chance to make him collapse.”
Pouliot was quick to compliment Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave, who finished with 31 saves, including two when he was down and out but still had pucks hit outstretched legs.
“Cheveldave was unbelievable in the second period,” Pouliot said “He deserved a better fate. He played incredibly well.”
Tim Bozon had the Blazers’ other goal, opening the scoring in the first period with his 28th of the season. The Rebels took the lead on goals by defencemen — Kevin Pochuk, in from the midget AAA Winnipeg Wild, got his first WHL goal three minutes after Bozon scored and Alex Petrovic, who always plays like he owns the building here, got his ninth midway through the second.
The Blazers, who lead the overall standings by three points over the Edmonton Oil Kings and hold a five-point lead over the Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks in the Western Conference, could have their hands full again tonight. The Hitmen, who beat the Royals 5-3 in Victoria on Wednesday night, whipped the Rockets 7-1 in Kelowna last night.
“We are faced with another team that has had success against us and they’re playing well,” Charron said. “If we get the same kind of effort, we’ll probably face the same result.”
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 4,077. . . . Kamloops F Chase Schaber, the team captain, is questionable tonight with what the team says is a lower-body injury. He wasn’t on the bench for the third period. . . . The Rebels went 3-0 against Kamloops this season. . . . Kamloops G Cam Lanigan was ill and didn’t dress. G Ty Hamer-Jackson of the midget Tier 1 North Kamloops Lions was on the bench. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. Pouliot: Full marks for first victory; 2. Petrovic: Big, physical and moves well; 3. Cheveldave: Gave his guys a chance to pull one out. 

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