Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blazers Take Down Hawks 4-1

Kamloops 4 vs. Portland 1
In a strange game on Wednesday night, the Kamloops Blazers snapped their 7 game losing streak, riding 41 saves by Connor Ingram to beat Portland 4-1.


In the first period, Portland really struggled in their own zone, both winning battles along the boards and turning the puck over at an atrocious rate. The Blazers opened the scoring when Keoni Texeira had the puck poked off his stick from behind by Matt Needham and right onto the stick of Cole Ully in the slot. Brendan Burke did not go out to challenge the shot and Ully picked his blocker side corner for his 10th goal of the season and his first since October 22nd. Then at the end of the period both Alex Schoenborn and Miles Koules took penalties leading to a 1:01 of 5 on 3 play for Kamloops to open the 2nd period.

Just 16 seconds into the period, D-man Michael Fora hit Mike Winther with a nice drop pass on the rush and Winther sniped it over Burke's shoulder. It was Winther's 2nd goal in as many games. The first pass out of the zone continued to be a problem for the Hawks and Brendan Burke was forced to come up big multiple times off of terrible turnovers in the zone. Kamloops jumped out to a 3-0 lead when they when they won another boards battle and Logan McVeigh found Luke Harrison in the slot for his 3rd goal of the year. Portland cut into the lead on a delayed penalty when Oliver Bjorkstrand found Keoni Texeira at the blue line. He wristed it past Ingram for his 2nd goal of the season and 2nd in 3 games.

Then in the 3rd period with Portland controlling almost all of the zone play, Collin Shirley's shot went well wide of the Portland net but bounced off the boards right onto 16 year Jake Kryski's stick. Kryski put it into the gaping net for his 7th of the year. Portland had 6 on 4 play for an extended period near the end of the game but could not beat the stalwart 17 year old Ingram, losing in regulation for the first time in 5 games.


Connor Ingram made 41 saves on 42 shots, including 15 of 16 in the 2nd and all 16 in the 3rd. Burke made 29 saves on 33 shots on the other end of the ice.

Portland's power play went 0/3 on the power play, though one of those was a very short one at the end of 4 on 4 play. Kamloops was 1/5 on their power plays.

 Game Notes:
-Portland's defensemen and forwards played one of their worst defensive games since much earlier in the season. There were just way too many passes out across the middle of their own zone, some of which were blind passes. I don't know whether it's laziness or something else, but at times Portland tries to make the long first pass to start an odd man rush, rather then make the safe play up the boards. Recently, a lot of their success has come directly from controlling play out of their zone instead of making the risky home run pass. Coach Jamie Kompon needs to nail this home or these costly turnovers will keep leading to prime scoring chances.
-On the Blazer's 3rd goal, Josh Hanson was caught in no man's land as Harrison was allowed a prime lane to shoot from. A 20 year old D-man needs to get out and challenge that shot. Also, Hanson's game seems to have gotten worse as the season has gone on, not better. He seems almost frightened when an opponent is about to hit him in his own zone and he forces a bad pass. This is one reason, probably that he has been healthy scratch from some games recently. I would not be surprised of Nick Heid sees the ice on Friday instead of Hanson.
-Talking about not challenging shots, Brendan Burke needs to be more aggressive when a player is shooting from the slot like Ully and Harrison were. He is 6'4" and could take away a lot more of the net if he went at the player more.
-How Portland's top line only came away with one goal in this game, I will never understand. They were clicking on all cylinders and controlled the zone play on nearly every shift. Bjorkstrand hit the cross bar on a 3 on 1 rush and then a wide open net as well. Nic Petan was consistently the most dangerous player on the ice and was creating at all times. He is finally starting to consistently show the talent that we all know he has.
-Schoenborn's penalty late in the first is exactly the kid of play that got him in the coach's dog house earlier in the season and again led to a goal for the other team.
-Portland's 4th line of Ethan Price, Alex Overhardt and Skyler McKenzie did not have the same jump that the same unit (except for Predinchuk in place of Overhardt) did on Sunday vs. Everett. On most shifts, they struggled just getting it out of their own zone.
-Matt Needham did exactly what I wanted Bjorkstrand, Petan and Chase De Leo to do and that's draw penalties. By my count he drew at least 2 of the 5 Portland penalties and was tough for the Portland defense to handle all night.
-De Leo had one of his worst games of the season, as he was not as explosive and creating as he has been all season. His line (with Koules and Evan Weinger) could not get the puck going towards the Blazer's net.
-I had a real issue with the charging call on Koules to end the 2nd period, not because it wasn't  a penalty, but because Mike Winther slashed him very hard directly afterwards. The correct call, in my opinion was to match the 2 up, instead of just calling one and giving Kamloops the 2 man advantage.

3 Stars:
#3: Nic Petan
-Held off the score sheet, even though he was the flashiest player all game. Kamloops could not get the puck off of his stick. If he does this again this weekend, there is no chance he does not get at least one point.

#2: Matt Needham
-1 assist on the night for Needham, but he was the player that kept this team ticking all night. His line was one of the only ones for Kamloops that consistently held the puck in the Portland zone. His play on the fore-check was also a difference maker.

#1: Connor Ingram
-First 40+ save game for Ingram this year and a few were very pretty ones. He earned his 3rd win of the season and his first since October 25th. During the 5 games in between that he played in, 2 of his losses were in the shoot out. Right now anyways, he has the #1 spot in Kamloops over fellow 17 year old Cole Kehler.

Elsewhere in the WHL:
-Swift Current 5 vs. Brandon 0
Landon Bow got his 5th shut out of the season, making 25 saves. It was the first time the high scoring Wheat Kings have been held goal-less all season.
-Edmonton 3 @ Moose Jaw 2 (OT)
One night after Connor Gay provided the heroics against the Oil Kings, Brett Pollock did so for the defending champs, with only 46 seconds left in OT.
-Prince George 6 vs. Vancouver 1
The night after they lost in a really tough way, the Cougars rode 2 goals apiece from Chase Witala and Cal Babych for the lop sided win.
-Kelowna 5 @ Victoria 3
In a game that got ugly near the end, the Rockets got back on the winning track, led by 2 goals and 1 assist from Jesse Lees.

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