A Tuesday night tilt at the Enmax Centrium versus the league’s hottest team. The Rebels faced quite a challenge in taking on the Kamloops Blazers.
Not much in terms of scoring chances for either team in the opening few shifts of the game. Neither Bolton Pouliot for the Rebels or Taran Kozun for the Blazers was overly busy in the first ten minutes or so. For the most part, the Rebels did a good job of keeping Blazers forwards at bay. Turner Elson created the best scoring chances for the Rebels, catching a piece of the goal post with a shot of his own while narrowly setting up Brooks Maxwell with a wide open net not long after. There was a lot of ‘stop and start’ play in the first period, which probably worked out in favour of the home side. No score after twenty minutes of play. Neither side getting a powerplay. Shots 11-9 favouring Kamloops.
Kamloops’ top line would break through early in the second period. After Jan Bittner and Joel Hamilton were unable to get a handle on the puck, Colin Smith eventually did and beat Pouliot for his seventh goal of the season. Sam Grist and league scoring leader, and two-time reigning WHL Player of the Week, JC Lipon earned the assists. 1:32 into the period, it was 1-0 Blazers.
Red Deer would get the games first powerplay a few minutes later as Matt Needham was sent off for checking from behind. They would come oh so close to drawing even when Stockl jammed away at a rebound from a Haydn Fleury point shot. Kozun was there to cover up and preserve the Blazers lead.
The Rebels found themselves with another powerplay later in the period when Lipon was sent off for checking to the head. But for the second straight time the Rebels were unable to mount much of an attack.
Not long after they returned to even strength, the Blazers expanded their lead. The league’s top line would connect yet again as Tim Bozon scored his seventh of the season with Smith and Lipon earning the assists. With the assist, Lipon took over the scoring lead for the entire CHL. 2-0 Blazers 11:35 into period two. That would be the score heading into the second intermission. The Rebels actually outshot Kamloops 15-12 in the stanza.
Coming into this game, Kamloops had yet to score less than three goals in any game this season. They kept that streak alive 4:03 into the third period. Dylan Willick fired a long shot from the point, Pouliot mishandled it, Chase Suoto capitalized to score his first of the season.
The Blazers would put this one to bed at the 8:30 mark with their top line doing the deed. An incredible play by Smith to set up Bozon for his second goal of the game, eighth of the season. Tyler Hansen also earned an assist on the goal which ended Bolton Pouliot’s night. Patrik Bartosak, back from his two-game team imposed suspension, came in to finish this game for the Rebels.
On a bright note for the Rebels, their penalty killing units performed well in this game. They would kill off all six Blazers powerplays, including an extended 5-on-3 situation in the third period. That would be about the only positive note for the Rebels on this night as the Blazers skated to a 4-0 victory. Final shots on goal, 35-32 in favour of Kamloops. Taran Kozun earned his first ever WHL shutout.
MOLSON CUP THREE STARS
1. Colin Smith KAM
2. Haydn Fleury RD
3. Tim Bozon KAM
SUBWAY HARDEST WORKING REBEL - Tyson Ness
NEXT GAME... The Rebels host the Kootenay Ice this Friday at the Enmax Centrium. Game time is 7:30pm with tickets available through Ticketmaster. The Worley Parsons Cord pre-game show can be heard on 106.7 The Drive starting at 7pm.