Friday, August 31, 2012

Older Blazers power to victory

Forward Rob Trzonkowski of the Kamloops Blazers and defenceman
Joe Hicketts of the Victoria Royals compete for a loose puck.

(Murray Mitchell / Kamloops Daily News)
By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
The Victoria Royals may have known they were in for a long night of it when the Kamloops Blazers started their No. 1 line.
Tim Bozon, Colin Smith and J.C. Lipon, who combined last season for 221 points, including 90 goals, owned the puck on practically every shift through two periods and the Blazers, with an older lineup, skated to a 4-2 victory in a WHL exhibition game played at Interior Savings Centre.
It was the exhibition opener for both teams. They are scheduled to play again tonight in Maple Ridge.
The Royals announced 11 signings earlier in the day and had eight of those players in their lineup, including Czech goaltender Patrik Polivka, 18, who perhaps felt like he was in a beehive the way the home boys buzzed around him in the first period.
The Blazers dressed 11 players who are at least 18 years of age, with six of those 19 or 20. The Royals had just one 19-year-old in their lineup.
It was somehow fitting that the Blazers’ goals came from four players who have played a combined 505 regular-season games, while Victoria got both of its goals from a centre in his first WHL game.
Guy Charron, the Blazers’ head coach, said he actually made up lineups for both games after Tuesday’s intrasquad game.
“I’m old-school,” he said, explaining that he wanted a solid, veteran lineup playing before the home fans.
Still, last night’s opening 20 minutes, which was penalty-free and over in 25 minutes, was scoreless, despite the Blazers holding a 15-4 edge in shots and having directed at least 40 pucks in Polivka’s direction.
Left-winger Tim Bozon finally solved the Czech netminder, scoring on a backdoor play with the Blazers enjoying a two-man advantage early in the second period.
The Royals changed goaltenders at 11:50 of the second period, with Coleman Vollrath, a 16-year-old from Calgary, coming on to face the onslaught. He was beaten twice, by veteran wingers Jordan DePape and Chase Souto, 41 seconds apart late in the period.
Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave went the distance, stopping 21 shots, 11 of them in the final period. His best save may have come in the second period when he got a blocker on a shot by Regan Nagy, a 15-year-old from Ogema, Sask., who had gotten loose off the right wing. Then again, maybe it was the right pad he got on Austin Carroll’s attempt to score off a rebound late in the third period. No, it was the right pad save he made in the last minute of the game to deny centre Tyler Soy his third goal of the third period.
No matter. The point is that Cheveldave looks in midseason form.
Kamloops took its foot off the pedal in the third period, some individual play taking over for team play that had been so prevalent for two periods.
“Unfortunately, players tend to see sometimes the opposition being vulnerable and you get away from the things you need to do to be successful in a consistent way,” Charron said. “We addressed it after the game.”
The Royals took full advantage with two goals from Soy, one of yesterday’s signees. He’s a 15-year-old from Surrey who was the eighth overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft.
Smith restored the Blazers’ two-goal lead just 20 seconds after Soy scored his second goal.
After the game, the Blazers returned centre Jayden Halbgewachs to the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. Halbgewachs, the Blazers’ first pick in the 2012 bantam draft, didn’t get to play against his brother last night. Brandon Halbgewachs, 18, had been in camp with the Royals but was reassigned after their Wednesday intrasquad game. He is likely to play for the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins.
JUST NOTES: Blazers D Jordan Thomson, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 bantam draft, had a solid night and even fired a shot off the crossbar. He made some good decisions while manning a point on the power play. . . . Kamloops F Dylan Willick and D Austin Madaisky didn’t play but will be in the lineup tonight, while Smith and F Brendan Ranford, to name two, will get the night off. . . . Before the game, the Blazers announced the signings of three forwards — Mitch Friesen of Surrey, Jesse Shynkaruk of Saskatoon and Aaron Macklin of High River, Alta. Friesen was a fourth-round pick in the 2011 bantam draft, with Shynkaruk being taken three rounds later. Macklin is a list player. . . . All three were scratched from last night’s game but are  likely to get into the lineup tonight. . . . The Royals’ lineup included F Matthew Campese, who won’t turn 15 until Dec. 10, the son of Prince Albert Raiders general manager Bruno Campese. The younger Campese signed with the Royals yesterday. . . . The Blazers are at home again Wednesday with the Vancouver Giants providing the opposition. Game time is 7 p.m. . . . Kamloops’ other home exhibition game is set for Sept. 14 against the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers open the regular season against the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Sept. 21.

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