WEEKEND RECAP: BLAZERS @ SOUTH ISLAND ROYALS
“Today’s (Sunday’s) game was absolutely bizarre; I believe it’s still in progress. The biggest thing from today was…the players weren’t able to dictate the outcome of the hockey game and it was unfortunate that the ref decided to take the game into his own hands. It’s very, very unfortunate because those who suffered happened to be our players. For our players to have to go through that with all that they’ve already gone through and for them to deal with that…you know what I actually commend them for facing that adversity and there is a lot of positives to be taken from the weekend and I think they worked very hard.” Thompson Blazer’s head coach, Mark Chase’s, comments after a 4-1 win in Victoria Saturday and a 6-4 loss to the South Island Royals Sunday afternoon in a game that ended suddenly in the third period with three minutes and 45 seconds remaining on the scoreboard.
The T-Blazers opened the scoring in both games, with 5:57 remaining in the first period of game one on Saturday A.P. Garrett Ewert of the Bantam Triple ‘A’ Jardine Blazers was checked into the end boards behind goalie Daniel Towes, Ewert was knocked down but still managed to poke the puck to the side boards for the other A.P. on the roster, Bantam Triple ‘A’ Jardine Blazer Brendan Semchuk who passed the puck ahead to Dexter Robinson and the captain skated out of the zone and through centre into Royal’s territory where he dropped it off for Keaton Gordon in the slot and Gordon put a shot on goal that was turned aside and into the corner. Gordon battled for puck in the corner and passed it out to the point for Cody Allen, Allen skated into the top of the slot and let a slap shot go, glove side for his first goal of this BCMML season with the assists to Gordon and Robinson.
The visitors got their first power-play of the weekend with less than three minutes remaining in the first period and on the man-advantage Zander King-Buchanen dumped the puck in from centre, Nii Noi Tetteh then picked the pocket of a Royal behind the goal and passed it to Cody Allen at the point. Allen moved to the far side of the zone while sliding the puck to Tetteh who skated out to the line and let a wrist shot go that was tipped in front by King-Buchanen (4th) and the visitors lead two-nothing after 20 minutes.
South Island cut the lead in half 2:28 into the middle frame, even strength before the Thompson Blazers restored their two-goal lead with 56 seconds remaining the second period. 14-year-old A.P. Brendan Semchuk battled for the puck along the boards in T-Blazers territory and banked the puck off of the boards and to himself twice before finally springing free up and out through centre, two-on-one with Dante Callier and Semchuk elected to shoot short side, scoring his first of the weekend. Semchuk had the only other goal in the game, an empty netter with 36 seconds remaining in the third. Dexter Robinson assisted on both of Semchuk’s goals, Callier picked up an assist on the 3-1 marker and Dustin Vasil assisted on the empty netter.
The Royals outshot the Thompson Blazers 30-29 as Daniel Toews made 29 saves for his third win in ten games this season. “For sure they’re a beatable team and their four points that we need so… We’re looking to make a push to the playoffs; we have a chance to make the playoffs so that’s what we’re trying to do. We controlled the game for the most part…had a lot of offense.” said Toews after Saturday’s win.
Brendan Semchuk opened the scoring two minutes and 18 seconds into Sunday’s game after scoring with 36 ticks left on the clock Saturday afternoon. Defenseman Garrett Ewert, Semchuck’s teammate from the Bantam Triple-A Jardine Blazers in Kamloops took a hooking penalty 30 second’s into the first period. On the penalty kill, Semchuk picked up the loose puck in the T-Blazer’s zone, skated up through centre and found Dexter Robinson with a cross-ice pass, Robinson then cut to the net and passed it back to Semchuk at the last second who slid the puck in the back of the net for his third of the weekend, a shorthanded marker with Robinson picking up the assist at 2:18.
Semchuk wasn’t done there…just over four minutes later and on the power-play this time with Alex Astasiewicz and Tylor Seabrooke at the points. The two defenseman passed it around at the line before Seabrooke sent the puck down the wall to Semchuk who fired it into the back of the net, glove side, giving the visitors their second consecutive two-nothing first period lead in Victoria. Seabrooke and Astasiewicz with the assists at 6:41.
After the power-play goal, Alex Astasiewicz (3rd) finished the period by picking the puck up deep in his own zone and skating end to end through three Royals and firing it top shelf, glove side putting his team up three-nothing after 20 minutes.
The second period was a whole different story…South Island scored all five goals, two on the power-play in a period that took approximately 53 minutes play, including one stoppage of around 15 minutes as referee Jonah Lachapelle tried to sort out penalties to five different players with two minutes and 37 seconds remaining in the frame. Tylor Seabrooke collided knee on knee with a Royal in neutral ice and rough stuff ensued after the collision. Seabrooke was given five minutes for kneeing and a game misconduct while Cole Clifford and Riley Barnes each received two minutes for roughing and ten minute misconducts. A pair of Royal’s each picked up four minutes for roughing and ten minute misconducts but all after a lengthy delay in the final minutes of the middle period.
The third period began with captain Robinson being awarded a penalty shot 1:55 in as he was tied up on a partial break to the Royal’s goal, but Robinson’s shot to the five-hole was stopped. Royal’s coach Geoff Grimwood called his timoeout after the penalty shot, leading 5-3.
Alex Astasiewicz (4th) opened the third period scoring with another power-play goal to bring the Thompson Blazers within one, 5-4 at 3:08 from Semchuk. Astasiewicz picked up the puck along the boards, backed up to the point then moved in to the top of the slot and let a wrist go, high blocker side.
But that was as close as the visitors could come to pulling even in a game they lead three-nothing to start the second period, as the Royals added another with 6:34 remaining to make the score 6-4.
And then with 3:45 remaining on the clock…the T-Blazer’s fired the puck in onto the Royal’s goal from the neutral ice and when goalie Markus Daly covered it up for a whistle the Royals piled off of their bench celebrating the win. While the T-Blazers and officials were confused as to what was happening both the officials and visitors were quickly told that the game and Royals had gone past their booked ice time. The game ended 6-4 South Island with 3:45 remaining in the third period and the Thompson Blazers protesting. The T-Blazers encountered a somewhat similar situation in November in the Fraser Valley but…the Thunderbirds G.M. notified both teams during the game and arranged with the arena staff to shorten the second intermission which allowed the entire game to be played.
“Overall I think the weekend was a success for us…something that we’ve been waiting for and working hard for, we knew that we needed to have a good start for the New Year. First game back we get a convincing 4-1 win, we were executing everything that we had been talking about…even everything since September, it was really good to see the group come together and very, very proud of them.” said coach Mark Chase.
Bailey De Palma took the loss on Sunday and is still looking for his first win of the season in goal. “I think we had a pretty good weekend, one’s better than none and we’re trending in the right direction…we’re going up. Starting the New Year and we had a really good first game and proved to ourselves that we could do it and be a good team like Mark’s (Chase) told us all year so now it’s just being consistent. Any time you have 11 penalties it’s tough to keep momentum and it’s tough to stay in the game because lots of times not everyone is on the ice and it’s just tough in general so we have to be a little bit more disciplined.” said De Palma.
Bailey’s father Dan, the T-Blazer’s goaltending coach was behind the bench this weekend for the first time this season along with trainer Devon Bishop.
The team is nine points out of the final playoff spot with two games in hand on the Royals and Thunderbirds who are tied for the eighth spot. The T-Blazers don’t have a home game all of this month and play 12 of their last 14 regular season games on the road. Their two remaining home games are February 15th in Chase and 16th at Memorial Arena in Kamloops when they’ll host the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds.
The team is practising as usual Monday to Wednesday this week from 2:45 p.m. until 4 p.m. at Memorial preparing for this weekend in the Lower Mainland. The Thompson Blazers will take on the Vancouver North East Chiefs (14-10-4) Saturday at Planet Ice in Coquitlam at 4:15 p.m. and Sunday at the Langley Events Centre at 11:45 a.m. But before those two games, Daniel Toews and Dexter Robinson will represent the Thompson Blazers in the BCMML All-Star Game Friday night at 6 p.m. at the George Preston Centre in Langley.
The All-Star Game as well as all of the T-Blazers and BCMML games are available online:http://www.bchockey.net/mml/MMLNewsItem.aspx?id=1642