View Full Version : Back to work

10-07-2005, 11:33 AM
By GREGG DRINNAN (blazerhockey.com)
Daily News Sports Editor

Anyone who was expecting the Kamloops Blazers' braintrust to reach for the panic button will be disappointed.

The Blazers had a three-game winning streak come screeching to a halt on Tuesday when they were beaten 4-1 by the visiting Prince George Cougars.

But the team that practised on Thursday at the Interior Savings Centre was the same one that lost to the Cougars - the line combinations were the same; the defensive pairings were the same; the goaltenders were the same.

And that same team will take its 4-2-0-0 record into tonight's game against the Spokane Chiefs (2-1-0-0). Game time at The ATM is 7 o'clock.

"You know what?" Blazers head coach Mark Ferner asked. "I didn't think we played terribly bad. Our work ethic wasn't where it should have been."

The Blazers actually outplayed the Cougars in the first period but found themselves tied 1-1. As the Cougars scored the game's last three goals, the Blazers seemed to become more and more disinterested.

"As it got to 3-1 and 4-1...it took the wind out of our sails," Ferner said.

"We certainly talked about it...that it doesn't matter what the score is, whether we're up 4-1 or down 4-1, we still need to play the same way."

Ferner wants the Blazers to be a team that, when it has the puck, reads and reacts. As he said, the Blazers "want to score off the rush," but when that isn't there they want to get pucks deep with speed and get in on the forecheck. That didn't happen against the Cougars.

"We created some good chances early," Ferner said, "but we didn't do enough good things as far as the neutral zone was concerned, as far as simple hockey, as far as getting pucks deep early so that we could create some more speed to get a forecheck going."

He was quick to give the Cougars credit, too, noting that their defencemen "did a good job gapping up on us and we didn't identify it."

But, Ferner added, "the disappointing thing is that we talked about it. We talked about getting pucks behind their big (defencemen) and creating turnovers down low."

Only one of the Blazers' forward lines - Kevin Hayman between Terrence Delaronde and Brock Nixon - did that consistently and the Kamloops goal, off Hayman's stick, came as a result of a strong forechecking effort.

"Some guys can take a page out of their book," Ferner said. "They're a simple hockey line."

Ferner was especially disapointed in the play of the club's top line, the one that features Reid Jorgensen between Matt Kassian and Kris Versteeg. The three had combined for 21 points, including nine goals, over the first five games.

Against the Cougars, the trio had just two shots on goal.

"Too much east-west," Ferner said, referring to most of his forwards. "Too much trying to be fancy in the neutral zone."

And what of tonight?

"Certainly, we're looking for a better effort," he said. "If we have a better effort, obviously we're looking for a better result."


The WHL's 20-year-old deadline is six days away - each team has to declare a maximum of three 20-year-olds on Thursday; undeclared players become free agents. The Blazers have two 20-year-olds - defenceman Brennan Chapman and left-winger Marc Connors - but aren't likely to add another in the short term.

"Right now I'm not in any panic to pay a lot for somebody because I still have some other things," general manager Dean Clark said. "And right now we're not playing that bad. Clark admitted the Blazers still have interest in centre T.J. Mulock and left-winger Robbie Earl. Asked if Mulock, who is with the BCHL's South Surrey Eagles, was off his radar, Clark replied:

"No." Mulock has 15 points in 10 games, leaving him tied for seventh in the BCHL scoring race. Clark also admitted that he thinks Earl is "still a possibility, too."

"I think we're going to have to show that we're better, too," Clark said.

"We have to continue to do well in order for that to work."

Earl, a terrific skater whose NHL rights belong to the Toronto Maple Leafs, has returned for a third season with the U of Wisconsin Badgers.

JUST NOTES: Blazers assistant coach Ryan Thorpe has chatted with Richard Doerksen, the WHL's vice-president who handles discipline, but hadn't been fined as of last night. Thorpe received a game misconduct after Tuesday's loss