|Dylan Willick (11) and Chase Schaber (10) of the Kamloops Blazers try|
to get a puck under Victoria Royals goaltender Jared Rathjen
on Saturday at the Interior Savings Centre.
(Photo by Hugo Yuen / Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNANIt only took the Kamloops Blazers 20 minutes to ruin head coach Guy Charron’s mood on Saturday night.
Daily News Sports Editor
Daily News Sports Editor
In complete control with a 6-1 lead as the third period began, the Blazers gave up three goals and settled for a 7-4 WHL playoff victory over the Victoria Royals.
The Blazers, having won back-to-back playoff games for the first time since 1999, lead the best-of-seven affair 2-0 with the scene now shifting to Victoria for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
“Our third period was unacceptable,” Charron said. “A 6-1 score . . . I know everyone feels it’s a comfortable lead. My message is that you cannot give a team any life. It showed a little vulnerability on our part in that third period.
“If we want to grow and be a competitive team in the playoffs we have to tighten up. We can’t give up three goals in the third period like that.”
The Blazers have beaten the Royals nine times in 10 meetings this season, outscoring them 50-26 in the process. On Saturday, the Blazers had a 53-28 edge in shots and completely owned the second period. The Royals, however, won the third period 3-1 and you can bet they will be trying to use that to their benefit.
“We’re not going away,” Marc Habscheid, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, said. “Some of our top end guys have more to give. We need more from some of our top six forwards, for sure.
“But we’re not going away. I like that about our group. We’re young but we’re going to be feisty.”
The Blazers, spurred by Jordan DePape’s penalty-shot goal at 19:24 of the first period, exploded for five second-period goals on 20 shots to take control.
“It was big,” Charron said of the penalty shot.
“That’s a tough call,” Habscheid said.
The penalty shot was awarded after Victoria forward Ben Walker hooked DePape, who appeared to be struggling to control the puck as he went in on goaltender Keith Hamilton.
“I don’t think I’ve had a penalty shot in my life. . . . It was pretty exciting,” said DePape, who turned 20 on March 17. “I was 50-50. I didn’t know if it was a hook or a penalty shot.”
A long shift left DePape gasping for breath just before the freebie.
“I went to the bench and threw my mouthguard to (trainer Colin Robinson) because I could hardly breathe,” said DePape, who also scored the the Blazers’ third-period goal. “He gave me some water and I went to the blue-line. I was thinking deke and I went down and I just reacted, made a quick release and it went in.”
DePape fired a shot high to Hamilton’s glove side and the Blazers were off.
Kamloops winger Tim Bozon got his third goal of the series just 38 seconds into the second period, but forward Jamie Crooks got the Royals on the board 2:16 later.
“They got 2-0 early and then we made it 2-1,” Habscheid said. “We were right there . . . 10 minutes bit us again.”
He was referring to the midpoint of the period where the Blazers broke it open with four goals in 6:42, with defenceman Brady Gaudet and forwards Chase Schaber, Dylan Willick and Cole Ully the triggermen.
One night earlier, the Blazers scored three second-period goals, two of them coming 47 seconds apart, to break open what had been a 1-1 game.
Austin Carroll, Robin Soudek and Taylor Crunk scored for the Royals in the third period.
“Again a 10-to-12-minute stretch did us in like the first game,”
Royals forward Tim Traber told the Victoria Times Colonist. “We’re coming home now and believe we can beat these guys.”
DePape isn’t so sure.
“We got too relaxed,” DePape said of his club’s third period. “We took them for granted. In playoffs, you can’t let happen. It’s not a weakness but maybe they think they’ve got something now. . . . There were some minor breakdowns but we can regroup.”
Kamloops defenceman Marek Hrbas, who again was a physical forced, added: “We stopped playing our game and they got some chances. They got a couple of goals and we got back to it. But that can’t happen in the next game. We have to play a full 60 minutes . . . all game every game.”
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 4,527. . . . Kamloops G Cole Cheveldave stopped 24 shots but, like his teammates, appeared to lose focus in the third period. . . . Jared Rathjen replaced Hamilton in Victoria’s net after Schaber gave the Blazers a 4-1 lead at 9:03 of the second. . . . The Blazers were 2-for-7 on the power play; the Royals were 0-for-5. . . . Referees Colby Smith and Jon Stephenson gave Victoria 42 of 80 penalty minutes. The last half of the game slowed to a crawl at times as the teams engaged in scrum after scrum, with the officials content to stand and yell at the players, rather than issue meaningful penalties. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. F Matt Needham, Kamloops: Battling; 2. Willick: Bloodied in another night at the office; 3. D Marek Hrbas, Kamloops: Gives more than he receives.
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