McColgan’s 3 points fuels 7-1 rout of Kamloops
Special to The Daily Courier
Adam Brown may be the hottest Kelowna Rocket right now, but Geordie Wudrick and the rest of his team isn’t far behind.
In front of 6,163 home fans, Brown turned aside 35 shots to give the Rockets their fourth straight victory in a 7-1 pasting of the Kamloops Blazers. And in doing so, Brown narrowly missed earning his second shutout in as many games.
The game’s first star, Brown stood his ground all night, holding down the fort and making a dozen saves in what was the deciding second period — a frame which saw the Rockets score three times en route to the whitewash.
“They were pretty good at getting traffic in front of the net, but I did my best to work my way around them, and I came up with the saves,” Brown said. “We’re playing really well right now; the team’s really buzzing and helping me out back there and we’re playing a really solid team game.”
Wudrick, Cody Chikie and Shane McColgan all scored twice each for Kelowna, and Brett Bulmer added one, as the Rockets feasted on netminder Jeff Bosch, then his replacement, Cam Lanigan, who came on in relief in the third period. The win came on the heels of Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Everett.
After a relatively sedate first 20 minutes, Chikie opened the floodgates for the Rockets at the 8:29 mark of the second, cutting up left wing and wiring a 45-foot slapshot that went through Bosch’s legs. Despite not playing their best hockey of the night in the middle stanza, and actually getting outshot 12-6, the Rockets withstood a Kamloops charge.
Seven minutes after Chikie’s goal, Wudrick stepped up and scored his 18th goal of the season, pulling the puck around the net from behind and stuffing it past Bosch’s left skate.
Taking a cue from Wudrick’s manoeuvre, Chikie decided the same move might work again, and it did, pushing Kelowna into a 3-0 lead with less than a minute until intermission.
While the break proved a convenient time for Kamloops to make a goaltending switch, it made little difference to the Rockets, and they continued where they left off, peppering Bosch’s replacement. McColgan, with his first of the night, then Wudrick, with his second, took advantage of Lanigan in quick succession to give Kelowna a 5-0 lead.
McColgan added another, as did Bulmer, while Kamloops’ Chase Schaber finally solved Brown with 4:10 left to put the only blemish on the Rockets’ night.
“I thought that line was our best line by far tonight,” Rockets interim head coach Ryan Cuthbert said of Chikie plus Spencer Main and Gal Koren, who combined for five points on the night. “Other guys contributed and did some good things, but consistently . . . I thought they all worked and played extremely well together.”
Cuthbert also added that he “definitely liked our first period and our third period – the way we finished the game, it was a great job. In the second, we were lucky to get some goals, but, all in all, a pretty good night for us."
The Rockets were 0-for4 on the power play, while the Blazers went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
Now halfway through the season, the win improved the Rockets record to 21-15-0-0 and moved them into first place in B.C. Division standings, one point ahead of second-place Prince George (19-15-2-1) and six clear of the fifth-and-last place Blazers (17-19-1-1).
The Rockets are now 2-2 against Kamloops this season, and will get a chance to improve on that, as they face the Blazers two more times in their next five games, starting this Sunday when they will travel to Kamloops for a 6 p.m. rematch. Before that, though, Kelowna will host Spokane (21-10-3-2) on Saturday night. Game time is 7 p.m.
Huska: Emotion, magnitude of World Juniors unforgettable
By Ed Klajman
Special to The Daily Courier
BUFFALO — Ryan Huska knows all about the pressure of major championship tournaments.
Huska has three Memorial Cup rings as a player, one as an assistant coach and made an appearance two seasons ago for the first time as a head coach. But despite all of that, his time spent during this holiday season as an assistant coach on Canada’s World Junior team is exposing him to a pressure cooker that’s on a whole different level.
“(The) Memorial Cup, you’ve got pressure from your hometown. You want to perform for the people back in Kelowna, and the media attention is big, but it’s nothing like this,” the 35-year-old said while gesturing to a pack of television cameras and print reporters gathered around Team Canada players after their 10-1 victory over Norway on Wednesday. “This is the whole country that’s involved here, and the amount of people that follow our team in particular — the crowd that’s in Buffalo is pretty much sold out every night — is crazy. The magnitude is the biggest difference between the two events.”
He added that everything about this experience has been great.
“Hockey Canada is very organized, very prepared and, really, they cover every base,” said Huska. “And the other great thing is you get to spend a lot of time with some terrific coaches who have different ideas, and you get a chance to work together in this situation.”
When asked about the possibility of being head coach of the national junior team next year, Huska was coy.
“I would do whatever they would ask of me, to be honest with you. It’s been such a great experience so far, and, hopefully, our group can keep progressing the way we have so far in this tournament,” he said.
The most intense pressure is yet to come. Canada has a big game today against Sweden. The winner goes to Monday’s semifinals; the loser plays in the quarter-finals on Sunday.
“I’m excited, for sure, without a doubt,” he said. “The energy level’s going to get that much higher.”