View Full Version : Blazer over Hurricanes

10-14-2005, 10:55 PM
Blazers Withstand Hurricanes

Matt Kassian tipped his second goal of the season past Kevin Opsahl with 11:21 to play in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and give the Blazers a 2-1 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night at Interior Savings Centre.

Brock Nixon gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead late in the first period before Curtis Billsten tied the game on a second period powerplay goal six minutes in.

Early in the third, the Blazers had what they thought was the go-ahead goal but it was disallowed off a Blazer high-stick, but eventually did break the deadlock as Victor Bartley fired a shot to the net which Kassian deflected past Opsahl for the game winner.

Final shots were 25-20 Hurricanes...the first time the Blazers have been outshot this season. Devan Dubnyk picked up the win.

Both teams were 1-for-4 on the PP.

10-15-2005, 06:15 PM
Daily News Sports Editor

The Kamloops Blazers didn't advertise it beforehand but the 4,903 fans in attendance at Friday's WHL game at the Interior Savings Centre actually got a 3-for-1 deal - three games for the price of one.

The Blazers had an edge in the first period and emerged with a 1-0 lead. The Lethbridge Hurricanes owned the puck in the second period, outshooting the hosts 15-9 and going to the dressing room with a 1-1 tie.

In the end, the Blazers were able to escape - the way Harry Houdini used to escape from a locked safe while he was under water - with a 2-1 victory, thanks to a third-period power-play goal, some solid goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and a decent defensive effort in the final 20 minutes.

"I don't like giving (victories) to anyone because it's a team game," Blazers left-winger Matt Kassian said in reference to Dubnyk, who made 24 saves. "But he bailed us out which (smile and chuckle) is why we have him.

"He had a great last few days of practice, too. He's been looking good. Mentally, he's been strong and he's playing real well. We need to have him keep on playing that way."

While Dubnyk was turning in a second straight solid 60 minutes, his teammates weren't able to do the same, especially in the second period.

"We are very disappointed as a team with the second period," Kassian said of being outshot 15-9. "There are a lot of things we did wrong and a lot of things we have to fix. We came out of the second period 1-1 and that's the good news.

"We were outshot 15-9 and 15 shots in one period is totally unacceptable for us. That's a lot of shots in one period for us. Thank goodness for us, we had (Dubnyk) back there making some great saves and he managed to keep us in it. We finally managed to get our heads in the game and even things out a little more in the third."

Right-winger Brock Nixon, off some great work by linemates Janick Steinmann and Terrance Delaronde, opened the scoring at 13:41 of the first period. The visitors pulled even at 5:54 of the second when right-winger Curtis Billsten scored only their second goal in four games.

"That was our game plan, to go out there and get lots of shots on (Dubnyk)," offered ex-Blazers winger Kris Hogg, whose side had only three shots in the third period. "But if you can't score, you can't win."

The Blazers scored in the third and, yes, they won the game.

Kassian's second goal of the season, a power-play score on a redirection of a Victor Bartley point shot at 8:39 of the third period was the difference.

"You try to move in front of the goalie," said the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Kassian, who caused a total eclipse in front of goaltender Kevin Opsahl. "You don't want to block the net off if there's a spot there. You just want to get in the goalie's way and stop him from seeing the puck so if it doesn't go off you maybe it's got a shot at going in on its own."

This one went of Kassian's stick and cleanly beat Opsahl, who made 15 saves. The play that led up to the goal actually originated before a faceoff in the Lethbridge zone.

"Before the faceoff, (Brennan) Chapman said, `Let's swing across,' " Bartley said, referring to the other pointman on that particular power play. "It worked out great because their forwards got all mixed up. I saw (Kassian) there. I saw a little hole so I took a shot and luckily he tipped it and it went in."

The victory didn't come without some late suspense, though, as Bartley picked up a checking-from-behind minor for an ill-timed hit on Billsten at 18:17 of the third period.

"As soon as I did it," Bartley said, "I just thought `I'm the biggest idiot ever.' Knowing that we only had about 1:45 left...I'm just glad my teammates bailed me out in that situation."

The Hurricanes forced three faceoffs in the Blazers' zone but the home boys won all three - Reid Jorgensen winning two and Kevin Hayman the other. Dubnyk came up with two saves - the first off a Rob Klinkhammer shot off the left wing and the second on a tip off a Ben Wright point shot - to preserve the victory.

"The whole team is struggling to score," Hogg said. "Obviously, we're in a bit of a scoring dilemma. Lines are being mixed and matched. We had a great start to our season but we're kind of in a hole right now. Every team is going to go through it."

There were times last night when the Blazers were in a hole, too. And it usually resulted from turnovers in bad spots, something the team knows it has to work on.

"Turnovers at the blue lines," Kassian said. "The grey areas - five feet inside and outside both blue lines; even the whole neutral zone...those are areas where you can't turn the puck over. Maybe we were a little soft on our sticks and weren't bearing down as much as we needed to. It really started to hurt us and you could tell in the second period.

"Even when we did make the turnovers, we weren't moving our feet. We weren't moving to fix our mistakes. We need to start bearing down in those areas.

"Tonight, we got away with one."

JUST NOTES: Referee Andrew Guest gave each team four minor penalties and each team was 1-for-4 on the power play...Game time was two hours five minutes...Lethbridge C Colton Yellow Horn took a stick in the face late in the second period when Kamloops C Kevin Hayman was trying to clear a puck. Yellow Horn returned for the third period...The Hurricanes wrap up their three-game B.C. Division swing tonight in Vancouver against the Giants...This was the Hurricanes' only appearance at The ATM this season; the Blazers will play in Lethbridge on Oct. 28.