Sunday, October 16, 2011

Can the Blazers Close the Deal?

That's the big question entering tonight's home game against the Kelowna Rockets.

The Blazers have a chance to complete the perfect weekend with three wins in three nights as they play division rival Kelowna for the first time this season.  The Blazers have won six of their last seven games while the suddenly struggling Rockets have lost five in a row (0-4-1-0) after an overtime loss in Victoria last night.

Friday, the Blazers posted a 5-4 OT win in Portland thanks to Brendan Ranford's career four-goal game.  Last night, goaltender Cole Cheveldave made 26 saves for the shutout in a 3-0 win over Prince George back at Interior Savings Center.  A win tonight to close off the weekend would really set the Blazers up well as they attempt to gain some separation from the .500 pack that seems to be emerging within the division and conference.  For the first time since October 20th, 2009, the Blazers are four games over .500. 

It's sounding like the Blazers will break the goaltender rotation we've seen for the first three weeks and go back to Cole Cheveldave tonight.   Cheveldave's numbers are impressive in his first three starts in the WHL.  He's 3-0 with a 1.43 GAA and a .943 save %. 

We will likely see both D Josh Caron and F Matt Needham back into the line-up after being scratches last night.  F Chase Souto suffered a finger/hand injury in a scrap and left last night's game.  He did return later after a few stitches.  We'll see if he's back in the line-up for the game.

The Rockets on the other hand travel in from Victoria today.  A tweet from Rockets broadcaster Regan Bartel talked about the long travel day they have ahead "6:40am wake-up call to catch the ferry back for a 6pm game in Kamloops tonight"

After a 3-0 start, the Rockets are going through a  bit of a slide.  They lost both games on the island this weekend to the Victoria Royals.  Goals against seems to be their issue lately.  Jordan Cooke played last night for the Rockets in goal.  It could mean they throw 20 year-old Adam Brown against the Blazers tonight.  Brown seemingly saves his best games for the Blazers.  He was the best player on both teams in last year's season series.  The Rockets won six of nine meetings.  The Blazers were 3-5-0-1 head-to-head.

This is a crucial stretch for Kelowna.  They are in the midst of nine straight games against BC division opponents. 

It's a 6pm face-off.  The Blazers will look to keep it rolling right along before heading out to Alberta for three games next week beginning in Red Deer Wednesday.

Radio NL is on the air with the pre-game show at 5:30, play-by-play at 6pm.


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