The club arrived back in Kamloops shortly after 8am this morning following the long trek through the Rockies. There was a small mechanical issue somewhere along the trail near Revelstoke but it was handled and the team rolled on home...
Here's a few thoughts after the Blazers won two of three this week in the Central division to remain atop the BC division with a record of 9-3.
- Last night's win in Medicine Hat was a statement win. JT Barnett's wrap-around goal off the rush three minutes into the third period stood up as the winner as the Blazers locked it down pretty good in the final 17 minutes. The Tigers had three PP chances to tie it up, but any scoring opportunity was nullified by G Cam Lanigan who finished the evening with 28 saves in the 2-1 win. The Blazers taking the battle of division leaders to conclude a three-game Central division swing.
- Through 12 games, the Blazers have shown depth in all positions. They have six players who have scored four goals or more (Smith, Ranford, Barnett, Willick, Schaber and Lipon). The Blazer defenders have done a good job at limiting scoring opportunities led by Tyler Hansen's +11 rating and the play of Austin Madaisky. Both goaltenders Cole Cheveldave and Cam Lanigan have taken turns showing the coaching staff why they should be the #1 guy.
- The Blazers are getting strong contributions from their rookie crop. Tim Bozon, Matt Needham and Cole Ully have contributed and played in key situations. Ully may have had a coming out party the past couple nights logging increased ice-time against Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. He scored his first and second ever WHL goals in Lethbridge Friday night. On defense, Tyler Bell and Landon Cross have played steady and have done pretty much all that's been asked. Let's remember the 4-0 Cole Cheveldave is still a rookie as well.
- From being around the team the last two seasons I can see this group as a tighter one than last year. Winning can bring teams closer but I think the groundwork for this team unity we're seeing was laid during training camp.
- It took the Blazers 18 games to record their ninth win last season. This year they've done it in 12 games. F JC Lipon's shorthanded goal last night was his 6th of the season doubling his total of last year when he played 65 games.
- Speaking of shorthanded goals, Lipon's goal was the Blazers league leading 5th shorty of the season. Last year the team only tallied four.
- There's no room for this team to get complacent. Other teams around the league will only improve. The Blazers will have to keep getting better to stay ahead of the curve.
- "I had no choice" was the words F Timmy Bozon said to me post-game after being involved in his first ever WHL fight. He held his own against Tiger D Dylan Busenius as they got tied up behind the play.
- Colin Smith took a hard hit last night from Tigers F Kale Kessey. There to instantly step up for a teammate was D Josh Caron as you can see here....Josh Caron vs Kale Kessey
- Blazer D Tyler Bell tells me he often suffers a case of mistaken identity. He tells me some of the opposition players this year think he's Myles Bell from the Kelowna Rockets - the former Regina Pat defenseman. Some of the broadcasters have made that mistake as well.
- Take it with a grain of salt... but the Blazers will likely crack the CHL Top 10 rankings when they're released in the next couple days. I've never put much stock in the rankings as I believe it's a bit of a flawed system..
- If you'd like to see some pics of the Blazers on the road this week then check out the Blazer blog here.