|Kelowna goaltender Jordon Cooke makes this save off Kamloops left-winger |
Tim Bozon, who went on to score three times, including the OT winner.
(Doyle Potenteau / DubNation)
Daily News Sports Editor
It’s Tim Bozon at the backdoor and he just scored.
Oh, look, he did it again!
And now he’s at the front door and he’s scored again.
Bozon, the WHL Western Conference’s rookie of the year last season, scored three times Friday night at Interior Savings Centre, his third goal giving the Kamloops Blazers a 6-5 victory over an overly aggressive squad of Kelowna Rockets.
Bozon scored two backdoor power-play goals — the home boys were 3-for-11 with the man advantage — and then fought off two defenders and beat Rockets goaltender Jordon Cooke with a wrist shot from 30 feet out in the slot at 2:49 of extra time.
“We work a lot on the power play with the boys in practice,” Bozon said, referring to himself and linemates Colin Smith and JC Lipon.”We stay longer on the ice in practice and work on those plays. I know it’s going to work. We’ve just got to keep working on it because it’s important.
“Tonight, if we don’t have the power play, we’re probably down.”
Bozon scored 36 times last season; this was the first three-goal night of his brief WHL career.
The victory may have been a costly one for the Blazers, who watched as defenceman Tyler Bell and goaltender Cole Cheveldave both left with injuries.
Bell departed late in the first period after being hit from behind by Kelowna forward Henrik Nyberg, who then fell on him. Bell appeared to injure his right knee. He did return to the bench for the last two periods but didn’t play again.
Cheveldave stopped 23 of 26 shots through two periods but was replaced by Taran Kozun to start the third period. Kamloops head coach Guy Charron would only allow that Cheveldave had a “lower body injury.” The sophomore goaltender may have been injured at 12:08 of the second period when Kelowna centre Colton Sissons crashed into him in the crease.
The Rockets, meanwhile, lost forward J.T. Barnett on his first shift. He threw a check deep in the Kamloops zone, was slow going to the bench and didn’t return. Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska said Barnett “tweaked a knee.” It was the same knee Barnett, then with the Everett Silvertips, injured while stretching prior to a game last season at ISC.
None of the three is expected to play in tonight’s rematch in the Little Apple.
If there was a message from this game it was sent by Charron, who let the WHL’s other 21 teams know that his team is coming at you.
The Blazers frequently used four forwards on their power play. And, on the one PP opportunity in OT, he again put four forwards on the ice.
“Our depth is up front,” Charron said. “This is where the strength of our team is — the offence. If you have the puck, they can’t score. Consequently, if you have those kind of players on the ice, chances are you will have the puck.”
Of course, as Charron pointed out, “The way our defence played tonight, I’m not sure any of those guys deserved an opportunity to play in those situations.”
Smith’s line had a big night, finishing with 10 points. Smith had a goal and three assists and Lipon had three helpers. Centre Matt Needham and defenceman Landon Cross also scored for Kamloops. Cross, who had six points in 46 games last season, also picked up two assists.
The Rockets got goals from Ryan Olsen, Tyson Baillie, Nyberg, Myles Bell and Dylen McKinlay. The last two scored at 13:30 and 15:13 of the third period to erase a 5-3 deficit and force OT.
In the end, though, the Rockets were done in by their propensity for penalties.
“For us,” Huska said, “that was the problem with our game. I liked the way we played a lot of other parts of it. I thought we were physical, I thought we skated and I thought 5-on-5 we were pretty good. We took too many penalties against a good power play.”
“To me, that’s the difference in the game,” he said. “We had so many power plays and that’s what allowed us to win the hockey game, as far as I’m concerned.
“It wasn’t our play by any means.”
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 5,239. . . . Kelowna was 1-for-5 on the PP. . . . Kozun stopped six of eight shots and got the victory. . . . Cooke turned aside 29 shots. . . . The game was preceded by the hoisting of the 2012 B.C. Division pennant into the ISC rafters. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Bozon: Loves to score; 2. Smith: One of WHL’s best; 3. Cooke: Got his guys a point. . . . This was the first time the Rockets had provided the opposition in the Blazers’ home-opener. The Blazes will return the favour for the first time tonight in Kelowna. . . . The Blazers next play at home on Oct. 5 against the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna D Mitchell Chapman, 20, is expected to miss the first month of the season with an ankle injury. . . . F Brock Balson, 19, who was released by the Blazers this week, is back with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Balson was released by the Prince Albert Raiders prior to the start of last season. He joined the SilverBacks, put up 19 points in 20 games, and then signed on with his hometown Blazers. He had six points in 42 games last season with the Blazers. . . . Former Kamloops F Ryan Hanes, 20, scored all three of his club’s goals as the Cowichan Valley Capitals dropped a 4-3 BCHL decision to the Nanaimo Clippers last night.
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