If the Kamloops Blazers managed to accomplish anything Sunday, it was upsetting their head coach.
"The guys in that room have to check their chests and see where their heartbeats are," said Dave Hunchak, after the Blazers dropped their fourth straight game, 4-1 to the Vancouver Giants at Interior Savings Centre.
"We feel we prepare our team as well as anybody, they get all the information that they need to go and perform, but when it comes right down to it, you have to perform."
The Blazers, now 4-10-1, certainly haven't been the most consistent or dangerous team in the WHL, but they tend to work hard, and have only put in two non-efforts so far. The first was on Oct. 18, when they lost 5-1 in Vancouver.
The second was last night, with the Giants hammering away in the first period and cruising on home.
"I'm extremely disappointed with our effort in that first period," Hunchak said. "We allowed 20 shots in our building. For whatever reason, guys weren't ready to go tonight."
Kamloops' Aspen Sterzer opened the scoring a team-record six seconds into the game, before the Blazers stood around and watched the Giants take a 2-1 lead before the period was out.
Kamloops was moderately better in the second period, but the Giants, whom the Blazers tend to make look like the 1984-85 Edmonton OIlers, scored twice more. The way Kamloops was playing, and with the Blazers giving Vancouver four third-period power plays, there was no chance of a comeback.
"We're working hard sometimes, but not enough," said Sterzer, who now has six goals on the season. "We're very inconsistent and, to be honest, we got outworked most of the time. We need to execute a lot better and as a group . . . we have to work a lot harder."
Kamloops lost 7-6 in overtime to the Everett Silvertips at ISC on Saturday night and, although the Blazers put in a solid effort in that one, there was a major similarity with the Vancouver game - penalties.
The Blazers gave the Giants eight power plays, a night after giving the Silvertips nine. Everett was able to capitalize on four of their chances, with Vancouver scoring one power-play goal.
Vancouver's go-ahead goal came on a power play, as did Everett's overtime winner.
"Frustration is what it is," said Hunchak, whose Blazers have given their opponents the most power plays in the WHL. "Guys are taking bad penalties at bad times. It's frustration because they want to try to make a difference, but you've got to make a difference without taking penalties.
"We got out-worked tonight. Bottom line, we got outworked."
Carter Popoff, Brett Kulak, Jackson Houck and Tim Traber scored for the Giants, and Payton Lee made 33 saves. Bolton Pouliot made 43 saves for Kamloops.
Josh Winquist scored the overtime winner for Everett on Saturday, with Matt Pufahl, Ben Betker, Tyler Sandhu, Dawson Leedahl, Manraj Hayer and Cole McDonald also scoring in the victory. Auston Lotz made 24 saves in the victory.
Chase Souto had two goals and two assists Saturday, with Matt Needham scoring a goal and picking up four assists. Sterzer, Cole Ully and Josh Connolly also scored for Kamloops, and Taran Kozun turned aside 29 shots.
JUST NOTES: Attendance Sunday was 3,681, after 4,227 was announced for Saturday's game. . . . Seattle's Dean Sexsmith holds the WHL record for fastest goal to start a game, five seconds, which he set against the Victoria Cougars on Jan. 31, 1987. No one with the Blazers was able to provide the old club record. . . . Vancouver G Jared Rathjen (undisclosed) didn't dress due to injury. The Giants dressed G Jake Morrissey as an emergency backup. Morrissey is property of the Kelowna Rockets, and plays at the Delta Hockey Academy. . . . Sunday's Daily News Three Stars - 1. Popoff: Always finding open ice; 2. Lee: made the saves when he needed to; 3. Kulak: Very good on the back end. . . . Saturday's Daily News Three Stars - 1. Winquist: Great even before the OT winner; 2. Souto: Having a great month; 3. MacDonald: Did his job nicely. . . . The Blazers, who are two games into a stretch in which they play nine of 10 games at home, will welcome the Spokane
Chiefs to ISC on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
© Kamloops Daily News