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Royals upend Blazers in exhibition opener

Palaga makes WHL debut with hometown team
September 2, 2016 10:22 P.M.

The Kamloops Blazers staged a second-period comeback but it wasn’t enough as they dropped a 5-3 decision to the Victoria Royals on Friday night at the Sandman Centre.
It was the first exhibition game for both WHL teams. The Blazers are back at it on Sunday when they entertain the Kelowna Rockets. Game time is 5 p.m.
The Royals, who led 3-0 after the first period, got three goals from forward Dante Hannoun. He scored twice in the first period and completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal at 18:36 of the third period.
Forward Dino Kambeitz also scored for Victoria in the first period.


Veteran forward Matt Revel got the Blazers on the scoreboard at 1:24 of the second period, with forward Matt Campese pulling the home team to within a goal at 12:22. Revel forged a 3-3 tie with a power-play goal at 13:26.
The Royals went back in front at 15:05 of the second period on a goal by forward Tyler Soy. That one stood up as the winner.
Soy also had an assist, while the Royals got two assists from each of Gunnar Wegleitner and Regan Nagy.
Dylan Ferguson, last season’s backup goaltender, started for Kamloops and gave up three goals on 16 shots. Freshman Max Palaga, whose signing was announced earlier in the day, came on midway through the second period and stopped nine of 10 shots in his WHL debut.
The Royals got 32 saves from freshman Dean McNabb, who went the distance. McNabb, the brother of Los Angeles Kings defenceman Brayden McNabb, signed with the Royals earlier in the week.
JUST NOTES: The Royals were 2-for-5 on the power play; the Blazers were 1-for-5. . . . Palaga, 16, is from Kamloops. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder played all of his minor hockey in Kamloops. Last season he was with the major midget Thompson Blazers. The Blazers listed him a year ago after watching him in their rookie camp. . . . Earlier in the day, the Royals added Doug Bodger to their coaching staff as an assistant. Bodger, 50, lives in Chemainus. He played for the Kamloops Junior Oilers (1982-84) before going on to a 16-year pro career. Bodger spent last season as an assistant coach with the Shawinigan Lake bantam prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. He also has worked as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. . . .
F Massimo Rizzo, selected 15th overall by the Blazers in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, played his third exhibition game with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees on Friday night. He picked up an assist in a 7-0 victory over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters. Rizzo, who hasn’t signed with the Blazers, spent five days in camp with the Blazers before returning to Penticton. . . .
Former Blazers F J.T. Barnett has signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Barnett, 24, is from Scottsdale, Ariz. He was acquired by the Blazers prior to the 2010-11 season and went on to put up 49 points, including 17 goals, in 88 games before being dealt to the Everett Silvertips in 2011-12. Last season, he had 13 points, including five goals, in 35 games with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. His father, Mike, is a former general manager of the then-Phoenix Coyotes. He also used to be Wayne Gretzky’s agent. Mike now is a senior advisor with the New York Rangers. . . .
F Ty Kolle of Kamloops has signed with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Kolle, 16, was a fourth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, with the Prince George-based Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget League, he had 29 points, 11 of them goals, in 40 games.
F Scott Gomez, 36, announced his retirement earlier this week after an NHL career that included 1,079 regular-season games. Gomez, a native of Anchorage, played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and spent one season (1998-99) with Don Hay, the Blazers’ head coach, who was coaching the Americans at the time. . . . “It brought back a lot of memories,” Hay told Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald. “Having him as a 19-year-old player, watching him develop and have the career that he had, it’s kind of a sad day. I know how much (hockey) meant to him and how much he gave back to the sport. Things go through your mind. Scotty could skate and think the game so well, and pass the puck. He will be missed out there.” . . . Looking back, Gomez said he really appreciates having played for Hay. “Talk about presence,” Gomez told Fowler. “You learned respect and how to be prepared — little things like that. I only played for him one year, but he prepared me for the next level. I can’t thank him enough.”
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