Nick Chyzowski gave a tame night in November a playoff-like charge at Interior Savings Centre on Saturday.
Chyzowski, a rookie forward with the Kamloops Blazers, scored the first two goals of his WHL career, electrifying his teammates and the ISC crowd. No matter that Kamloops ended up losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Vancouver Giants, it was a fun night for the hometown kid and all of his fans.
Those fans — announced attendance was 4,027 — gave him the loudest cheer of the night (probably the season) as his first goal was announced.
“I was really excited — I think it got all of the guys going, too,” said Chyzowski, whose dad, Dave, is a former Blazers forward who now works as the team’s director of sales and marketing. “We had a good push at the end. Tough loss, but I don’t know — good effort by our team.”
Anyone who has seen Nick Chyzowski playing of late knew he wouldn’t be kept off the scoresheet for too long. Through his first nine games, he had two assists and dozens of scoring chances — he just never found a way to put them in.
“He earned his ice (time),” said Blazers head coach Dave Hunchak. “That’s one thing with our group — you’ll play if you earn your ice and I thought Nick did a great job in that third period.”
Both of Chyzowski’s goals tied the game, the second forcing a shootout. Although Chyzowski missed on his chance in the shootout, he helped the team get a point.
His first goal, with 7:59 remaining in the third period, came when he tipped in a Sam Grist point shot. Vancouver’s Thomas Foster put the Giants ahead 3-2 only 71 seconds later, but Chyzowski did it again, banging in a rebound that might have hit his stick or his chest.
“I work hard every day and I battle for my chances,” said the 16-year-old. “Tonight, I got lucky.”
Collin Shirley had the Blazers’ other goal, scoring his first for Kamloops after being acquired from the Kootenay Ice on Oct. 22.
Dalton Thrower and Blake Orban also scored for Vancouver, and Brett Kulak scored the shootout winner.
Vancouver has won all three meetings with the Blazers this season, but this is the only effort that left Hunchak pleased. Kamloops had lost 5-1 at Vancouver on Oct. 18, then 4-1 at home nine days later.
“I thought we were a lot better tonight,” Hunchak said. “I thought we had good push-back. We got ourselves behind a couple of times and found ways to get back in the game
“There are positives to build on from tonight — we’ve picked up three of our last four points at home.”
Saturday’s will go down as one of those games where both teams were pleased at the end.
The Giants got the hard-earned victory in what was their fourth game in five nights, sixth in eight nights and eighth in 11. Vancouver has now won four of five.
“We’ve been working hard at getting pucks behind their defencemen and lots of shots on net,” said Thrower, the Giants’ captain. “Our focus has been lots of hits and lots of shots.
If we come into this rink and do that, we feel like we’re going to come out with two points.”
Payton Lee made 33 saves for the Giants, five more than Kamloops’ Bolton Pouliot.
It might have been Chyzowski’s night, but it could have been another of the Blazers’ youngsters — Hunchak gave valuable minutes to Mitch Lipon, who played alongside captain Matt Needham and 19-year-old Chase Souto and had a handful of scoring chances.
“We’re asking a lot out of our 16- and 17-year-old group right now,” Hunchak said. “It’s a challenge and it’s something that we have to continue to work with and continue to grow these guys.
“They played big minutes tonight, and important minutes.”
JUST NOTES: Blazers F Aaron Macklin left the game in the second period after blocking a shot with his ribs. He didn’t return. Hunchak didn’t know his status Sunday. . . . F Aspen Sterzer had three assists for Kamloops. . . . Vancouver was 1-for-6 on the power play, while Kamloops went 0-for-3. . . . The Daily News’ Three Stars: 1. Thrower: Looked like he had a lot of fun out there; 2. Chyzowski: Big night for the local forward; 3. Vancouver F Jackson Houck: Seemed to be everywhere. . . . The Blazers are scheduled to play host to the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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Team Alberta beat Team B.C. 4-2 in the gold-medal game at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup in Calgary.
Team B.C. featured Blazers prospects Jake Kryski and Quinn Benjafield, along with goaltender Daniel Toews of Chase. Toews played in a 3-2 overtime loss to Alberta on Saturday, making 39 saves.
In the bronze-medal game, Manitoba beat Saskatchewan, 10-3. Forward Jermaine Loewen of Arborg had an assist in the victory, while Moosomin defenceman Dawson Davidson and Saskatoon forward Garrett Pilon were held off the scoresheet for Saskatchewan. All three players are Blazers prospects.