There has been some controversy in the second-round series between the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets.
On Sunday, the WHL suspended Kelowna F Tyson Baillie – length to be determined – for an unpenalized Game 1 hit on which Kamloops F Colin Smith was injured. The hit occurred early in the second period Saturday and Smith didn’t return. He was re-evaluated Sunday and kept out of the game.
The Blazers claim Baillie’s hit was late; the Rockets say Baillie caught Smith with his head down.
“Skating with the puck,” writes Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier, “Smith cut towards the middle of the ice, then took a shot. Baillie then swooped in and hit Smith, who was looking towards the Rockets’ net.
“It was a grey-area hit, that was technically clean, yet also borderline late. Regardless, Smith is out with an undisclosed injury — possibly a concussion as it looked like his head hit the ice hard after the collision — and the length of Baillie’s suspension is yet to be determined."
Kamloops head coach Guy Charron told Potenteau that Smith’s injury is “a day-to-day scenario. After being examined by a doctor, it was felt that he wouldn’t take part in the game. You have to respect those things; I don’t think he was 100 per cent; it wouldn’t have been fair to put him in that situation, so that’s where it’s at, at this point. He’ll be reevaluated as we move along.”
Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, told Potenteau:
“There’s no doubt in (the Blazers’ mind) it was a late hit. It was point-six of a second after (Smith) got rid of the puck. To me, I’m all for the penalties and suspensions when guys are vulnerable and when they’re hit from behind or blows to the head. You can control that. This, to me, isn’t what they’re doing.
“If you’re coming across the middle with your head down and the other guy is coming straight at you, he’s at as much risk (to injury) as you are. The check was right into his shoulder, and I feel bad that he’s hurt, but, in my day, if you came across the middle and had your head down, somebody
got you, all the time.
“The rules have changed that whenever somebody’s hurt, something happens.”
Smith has 11 points in seven playoff games after putting up 106 in 72 regular-season games. He hadn’t missed a game since early January of 2010; in fact, he had played in 273 consecutive regular-season and playoff games.
Baillie leads the Rockets in goals (7) and points (12) in these playoffs.
On the topic of suspensions, F Matt Bellerive of the Red Deer Rebels isn’t expected to play tonight in Game 3 against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. He has been hit with a ‘tbd’ suspension for a kneeing major he incurred in Game 2 on Friday in Calgary. . . . Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate reports that the Rebels are exected to dress F Adam Musil, a first-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, tonight, and also will use F Scott Feser. . . .
F Grant Besse, a senior at Benilde-St. Margaret, has been honoured with the Mr. Hockey award in Minnesota. The award, presented by the Minnestoa Minute Men, is for the top high school senior hockey player in the state. . . . Besse, 18, had 76 points, including 48 goals, in 28 regular-season and playoff games. . . . Besse, who has committed to attend the U of Wisconsin, is on the Kamloops Blazers’ college list. Interestingly, he attended the same school as F Alex Baer, who left early and joined the Vancouver Giants late in their season. . . . Besse now is with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. He has four goals in seven games.
The WHL’s playoff situation:
Edmonton (1) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
(Edmonton leads, 2-0; Game 2, Tuesday, in Medicine Hat)
Calgary (3) vs. Red Deer (4)
(Calgary leads, 2-0; Game 3, tonight, in Red Deer)
Portland (1) vs. Spokane (4)
(Portland leads 2-0; Game 3, Tuesday, in Spokane)
Kelowna (2) vs. Kamloops (3)
(Kamloops leads 2-0; Game 3, Tuesday, in Kamloops)
In Kelowna, the Kamloops Blazers scored the game’s last five goals and beat the Rockets, 5-1. . . . F Myles Bell gave Kelowna a 1-0 lead at 1:35 of the first period, via the PP. . . . Kamloops F Brendan Ranford tied the score at 3:11, with his third first-period goal in two games. . . . Blazers F Dylan Willick broke the tie at 9:47 of the second, on a PP. . . . Kamloops F Kale Kessy scored his eighth goal of these playoffs in the third period. He trails only Portland Winterhawks F Ty Rattie, who has nine. . . . Kamloops F Aaron Macklin, who scored one goal in 62 regular-season games, added his second goal in two nights. . . . Ranford also had an assist, giving him four points in the two games. . . . He has 14 points in eight playoff games; last season, he finished with 14 points in 11 postseason games. . . . After getting D Mitchell Wheaton (shoulder) back for Game 1, the Rockets had F Carter Rigby (shoulder, foot) back for Game 2. Not that long ago both players were considered to be out for the season. . . . The Rockets also dressed D Dalton Yorke, 16, from Maple Ridge. He played this season for the Vancouver North East Chiefs, putting up 20 points and 122 penalty minutes in 40 games. . . .
In Edmonton, G Laurent Brossoit stopped 33 shots as the Oil Kings beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. . . . You want hot? Brossoit has three shutouts in seven games in these playoffs. He is 6-1, 0.69, .972. . . . Brossoit has five playoff shutouts in his career. . . . Medicine Hat held an 18-3 edge in second-period shots but wasn’t able to score. . . . The Oil Kings scored two power-play goals, with F Henrik Samuellson scoring at 6:04 of the first and D Cody Corbett getting the second one at 1:56 of the third. . . . Tigers G Cam Lanigan stopped 32 shots. . . . The Tigers were 0-for-7 on the PP. According to Sean Rooney of the Medicine Hat News, “The Oil Kings haven’t given up a goal to Medicine Hat on special teams since Feb. 20, 2012 — a stretch of 44 chances.” . . . In these playoffs, the Oil Kings have yet to surrender a power-play goal in 33 opportunities over seven games.
CHECKING-FROM-BEHIND COUNT (13):
D Landon Cross, Kamloops
CHECKING-TO-THE-HEAD COUNT (5):
From Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC): “In wake of Coach Gwozdecky’s departure, NTDP U18s Gage Ausmus has decomitted from Denver.”
Ausmus, who turns 18 on April 22, is from East Grand Forks, Minn., and is on the Calgary Hitmen’s protected list.
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