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Blazers' Ferguson states his case

Veteran centre lost to shoulder injury
By Gregg Drinnan
September 11, 2015 10:21 P.M.
Blazers goaltender Dylan Ferguson had the angles covered on Friday night.

If it was tennis, the ball would be in Cole Kehler’s court. But it’s hockey, so it’s safe to say the puck now is in Cole Kehler’s crease, Dylan Ferguson having planted it there with an emphatic exclamation mark.
Ferguson and Kehler, a pair of young goaltenders, are involved in the one real knock-down-drag-out scrap of the Kamloops Blazers’ training camp.
With sophomore starter Connor Ingram in Traverse City, Mich., with the Detroit Red Wings’ prospects, Blazers head coach Don Hay chose to give Ferguson and Kehler each one complete game this weekend as they play home-and-home with the Kelowna Rockets.
On Friday night, at the Sandman Centre, Ferguson gave it his best shot in an attempt to grab the backup spot, stopping 31 shots as the Blazers beat the Rockets, 3-1.
Kehler, who turns 18 on Dec. 17, will get his turn tonight in the rematch in Kelowna. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder from Altona, Man., spent the first half of last season splitting time with Ingram. But when Ingram got on a roll in the second half, Kehler mostly watched from the bench.
The Blazers go into tonight’s game with a 2-1-0 exhibition record, while the Rockets are 1-1-0.
The Blazers also will go into tonight without centre Matt Revel; in fact, the third-year skater from West Vancouver might miss at least the regular-season’s opening weekend after leaving during his first shift in the second period with a shoulder injury.
With a number of players away at NHL camps, both head coaches could only use whomever they had on hand. As a result, the Rockets’ lineup included 11 freshmen, while the Blazers had five.
The discrepancy showed early as the Blazers had seven of the game’s first eight shots on goal. They also got the first score when forward Nick Chyzowski tapped in the rebound of a power-play wrist shot through traffic from defenceman Marc McNulty at 5:31 of the opening period.
“We had a really good start,” said Kamloops head coach Don Hay, “but we didn’t score . . . then we took some penalties and gave Kelowna life. We had a chance to establish ourselves but we let them back in.”
After the game, Hay said he talked to his players about “composure and structure.” He told his players that he would “like to see us play like we practice — with discipline.”
Their lack of discipline gave Kelowna eight power-play opportunities, something that would mean almost certain defeat had the visitors had their big guns on hand.
”The goalies were the best players on the ice,” Hay said.
Ferguson, who will turn 17 on Sept. 20, is from Lantzville, B.C. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft after playing with the bantam AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder has played the last two seasons with midget AAA teams at Notre Dame, first the Argos and last season the Hounds.
Last night, he got off to a solid start, turning aside eight first-period shots, including a left pad save on a penalty shot attempt by Kelowna forward Kole Lind at 7:15. Nine minutes later, Ferguson slid across to make a dazzling save on Swiss forward Calvin Thurkauf as he took a centring pass.
Ferguson didn’t have a chance on Kelowna’s goal, which came off a one-timer from the right wing by sophomore Dillon Dube while on a power play at 4:53 of the second period.
A minute later, Ferguson kept the game tied with a wonderful save off defenceman Lucas Johansen with Kelowna again on the power play. Late in the period, Ferguson came across to get in front of a Dube one-timer from the high slot.
Ferguson continued his stellar play in the third period, too, getting a left pad on a shot off a spin-o-rama by Lind on an early power play and then beating Lind again, this time getting a pad on a shot off the left wing.
“Ferguson played really well,” Hay said, “especially toward the end of the second period and in the third. It seems like he’s getting better and better as the exhibition season goes on. That’s what you want to see from all your players.”
After Blazers forward Luke Harrison broke a 1-1 tie, squeaking a shot through the pads of Kelowna goaltender Jake Morrissey at 18:19 of the third period, Ferguson preserved the victory 41 seconds later by taking a Dube shot off his mask.
Kamloops forward Jake Kryski put away the game with an empty-net goal at 19:22.
Morrissey, who is one of three goaltenders on the Rockets’ roster, finished up with 27 saves.
Jackson Whistle, Kelowna’s starter last season, is into his 20-year-old season and right now is in Penticton with the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects. Michael Herringer is likely to get the call at home tonight.
It will be interesting to watch Kelowna’s goaltending situation play out, because Morrissey’s age almost certainly will factor into a final decision.
JUST NOTES: The announced attendance was 1,612. . . . The Blazers were forced to play a lot of line combinations after Revel left early in the second period with a shoulder injury. Prior to that, with Deven Sideroff in camp with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, Kamloops had Quinn Benjafield in his spot alongside Matt Needham and Jake Kryski. Interestingly, all three of those players were first-round bantam draft selections — Needham in 2010, the other two in 2013. . . . The Rockets have eight players at NHL camps. They dressed 19 players, one under the allowable limit. . . . The Blazers scratched three players who are NHL camps — G Connor Ingram, Detroit Red Wings; D Ryan Rehill, New Jersey Devils; and F Deven Sideroff, Anaheim Ducks. Kamloops also was without F Matt Campese (shoulder), D Conner McDonald (undisclosed injury) and D Patrik Maier. . . . The WHL decided not to suspend Rehill for the charging major and game misconduct he incurred a week earlier in a 6-3 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars.
F Cole Ully, who led the Blazers in scoring each of the last two seasons, had one goal as his Dallas Stars beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in a prospects game at Traverse City, Mich., last night. Ully broke a 2-2 tie with 26.7 seconds left in the third period. Dallas trailed 2-1 going into the final minute of the period.

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