Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lotz to remember about this game

Daily News Sports Editor

The Kamloops Blazers had lots and lots of chances to score lots and lots of goals on Wednesday night at Interior Savings Centre.
However, goaltender Austin Lotz of the Everett Silvertips almost spoiled the night for the home boys because he made lots and lots of saves.
Lotz, a 17-year-old from St. Adolphe, Man., a community of about 1,000 people located
25 kilometres south of Winnipeg, finished with 65 saves, including all 29 he saw in the first period. But it went for naught as the Blazers emerged with a 4-3 WHL victory, thanks to three second-period goals and a game-winning penalty-shot score by left-winger Cole Ully in overtime.
Yes, it was one of those nights. You had to be there to believe it.
Somehow it was only fitting that it would end in some kind of strange fashion, in this case with a penalty shot.
The Silvertips were breaking out of their zone when a pass ended up in the feet of defenceman Cole MacDonald. Ully, a terrific skater, stole the puck and had open ice in front of him when defenceman Ben Betker made a diving attempt to stop him. Betker’s stick got caught up in Ully’s feet. He went down and was awarded a penalty shot.
A left-hand shot, Ully deked to his backhand and lifted the puck over a sprawling Lotz and into the net to end it. It was his second goal of the game and 16th of the season.
The Blazers, who won the game with their only shot of OT, finished with a 69-21 advantage on the shot clock.
The Silvertips set a franchise record in the opening period — most shots allowed, one period — as they were outshot, 29-6.
But . . . no matter. The visitors emerged with a 2-0 lead. And were it not for a goal post and a messed up 2-on-1 break it may have been 4-0.
Forward Reid Petryk scored the game’s first goal on Everett’s first shot — by that time, 4:00 into the first period — the Blazers had had four shots at Lotz.
When Everett defenceman Mirco Mueller beat Kamloops goaltender Cole Cheveldave from top of the right circle following a faceoff, at 14:46, the Blazers held a 20-4 edge in shots.
Left-winger Tim Bozon finally solved Lotz, but only after the goaltender had been knocked down by one of his teammates. Bozon then was able to lift the puck over the goaltender and into the net. It was 5:19 of the second period and the locals held a 36-7 edge on the shot clock.
Later, Kamloops got two goals 16 seconds apart, with Cole Ully banging in a rebound and fellow right-winger JC Lipon taking a Colin Smith pass and sliding it home. That was Lipon’s 23rd goal of the season, but his first since Nov. 30. He had played in five December games, before joining Canada’s national junior team, and six in January without scoring.
When the second period ended, the Blazers were outshooting the Silvertips, 50-11. Yes, 50-11!
Still, Everett didn’t quit and forward Ryan Harrison forced OT with a shorthanded breakaway goal — yes, it really was one of those nights — at 5:40 of the third period.
Lotz did set an Everett franchise record for most saves in a single game, smashing the old record of 55 that was set by Kent Simpson in a 3-1 loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on Jan. 6, 2012.
In the building, Lotz was named the third star — yes, third! — and received a rousing standing ovation from the fans as he came out to be acknowledged.
It has to be mentioned, too, that the Silvertips presented the Blazers with 12 power-play opportunities. Kamloops promptly went 0-for-12, including a combined 2:24 on two 5-on-3 advantages.
If you were wondering, the WHL record for most shots on goal in game is 85. It was set by the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 14-4 beating of the Regina Pats on March 12, 1979.
JUST NOTES: Attendance was 4,612. . . . The victory lifted the Blazers (31-14-5) to within four points of the idle Kelowna Rockets, who lead the B.C. Division and hold three games in hand. . . . The loser point moved Everett (20-26-3) four points clear of the eighth-place Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Conference. . . . The Daily News Three Stars: 1. Lotz: 29 saves in first period; 2. Lotz: 18 saves in second; 3. Lotz: 18 saves in third. . . . The Blazers next play Friday when the Prince Albert Raiders pay their bi-annual visit. The Blazers also will retire the number (28) worn by D Scott Niedermayer during his career here. . . . The CHL released its top 10 yesterday and the Blazers now are an honourable mention after being ninth last week. The Blazers had been in the top 10 for 15 straight weeks. . . . The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads are No. 1. WHL teams in the top 10 are the Portland Winterhawks (2), Kelowna Rockets (4), Edmonton Oil Kings (6) and Calgary Hitmen (10).

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