Forward Quinn Benjafield and defenceman Luke Zazula, two players who will be looked to for some offence this season, led the Kamloops Blazers to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on Sunday night.
The Blazers improved their WHL exhibition record to 1-1. The Rockets, who had beaten the visiting Victoria Royals 6-5
on Saturday, also are 1-1.
Benjafield, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder from North Vancouver, is preparing for his third season with the Blazers after being the 19th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft. He had 26 points, including 11 goals, in 69 games last season, after a freshman season in which had had 12 points, five of them goals, in 53 games.
On Sunday Benjafield set up the Blazers’ second goal, by centre Nick Chyzowski, for a 2-0 lead at 12:21 of the first period. Benjafield scored his first goal of the exhibition season at 16:27 of the second period for a 4-1 lead and then drew an assist on defenceman Cam Reagan’s goal at 18:57 of the second.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Zazula, 16, just may turn into a fan favourite in Kamloops. From Langley, he helped the Delta Hockey Academy’s midget prep team to a Canadian Sport School Hockey League championship last season, while also playing three games with the Blazers
A fourth-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, he picked up one assist and got some power-play time with the Blazers and, at one point, head coach Don Hay said he could see some similarities between Zazula and former Blazers great Greg Hawgood.
Zazula picked up assists on three straight goals against the Rockets.
Collin Shirley and Rudolfs Balcers also scored for Kamloops. Shirley opened the scoring 45 seconds into the game. Balcers gave his guys a 3-0 lead with a PP score at 16:49 of the first period.
The Rockets got goals from freshman forwards Jack Cowell and Liam Kindree.
The Blazers opened with veteran starter Connor Ingram in goal and he went on to stop 24 of 25 shots through two periods. Kamloops native Max Palaga came on for the third period and was beaten once on 11 shots.
Kelowna split the game between James Porter and Brodan Salmond. Porter gave up three goals on 19 shots; Salmond was beaten twice on 15 shots.
JUST NOTES: Kamloops was 1-for-4 on the power play; Kelowna was 0-for-4. . . . F Jake Kryski, traded by the Blazers to the Rockets for Joe and Danny Gatenby, two defencemen, this summer, was held off the scoreboard. Kryski had scored twice in his Kelowna debut on Saturday. Danny Gatenby was in the Blazers’ lineup, while Joe was given the night off. . . . The Blazers and Rockets will play a home-and-home exhibition series this weekend. They are scheduled to play in Kelowna on Friday and at the Sandman Centre on Saturday, 7 p.m. . . .
D Sol Seibel of Kamloops has survived the final cuts with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Seibel, 17, played last season with the junior B Kamloops Storm, recording 13 points, three of them goals, in 41 games. He was a seventh-round pick by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2014 bantam draft. Mark Ferner, a former Blazers player and coach, is the Vipers director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . The Vipers also kept F Levi Johnson, who will turn 19 on Oct. 20. From Lake Country, Johnson also played for the Storm last season, putting up 19 points, eight of them goals, in 45 games.
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