Allen Douglas / Kamloops Blazers

Royals’ McDonald suspended indefinitely; Game 5 goes Saturday

Wednesday night in Kamloops Kody McDonald was front and center in a heated exchange between the benches with Kamloops’ Zane Franklin.

As a result, McDonald was given a Match-Attempt to Injure penalty and tossed from the game, while Franklin was given a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.  The Blazers went on to grab the series by the horns and score 3 times beating the Royals 6-3. McDonald has been suspended indefinitely by the WHL, pending the series outcome.  

The Series So far

After the Blazers’ best performance of the series went unrewarded in Game 3, it would be easy for the squad to be demoralized.  To make matters worse, one of the Blazers’ more versatile forwards, Brodi Stuart, was suspended for Game four.

Throughout the series, the Royals have been successful in leaning on the Blazers, attempting to wear them down physically and make life uncomfortable.  This strategy has extended to after the play, agitating the Blazers who have then taken undisciplined penalties. Kody McDonald has been a thorn in the side of the Blazers with his chirps, antics, physical play, and goal scoring.  Kody is as true a Boston Bruins prototype as there is in the Dub. This Bruinsesque strategy has worked in large part for the Royals, combined with their strategy of stretching the play and forcing odd-man rushes.

Game 4 saw much of the same through the first two periods.  The Blazers continued to push forward and carry most of the play, much like Game 3.  Despite being rewarded with the opening goal, a couple of mistakes wound up in the back of the Blazers net making their uphill climb all the more difficult.  

While on the power play in Game 4, Victoria’s Kody McDonald initiated contact with Riley Appelt when coming off the ice for a change.  McDonald was clipped, embellished the play just a smidge and was the recipient of the lone penalty on the play. McDonald let his emotions get the best of him in his reaction to the call and narrowly escaped an additional penalty.  This resulted in 4-on-4 hockey and a palpable shift in momentum. 24 seconds after serving his embellishment minor is when the infamous stick incident occurred.

Game 5 is in Victoria on Saturday night, with Game 6 returning to Kamloops on Monday.  The Blazers will be back to full strength as far as their roster is concerned, with Stuart returning from suspension.  The Royals, on the other hand, are seeing their roster wear thin due to injuries and now a suspension.

Notes from Game Four

  • Blazers puck movement on the PP was much improved, using an extra half second to use Victoria’s pressure against them.
  • Blazers were noticeably better at generating traffic in front of Outhouse, causing second chances and tip opportunities.
  • Appelt centered Franklin and Centazzo due to the Stuart suspension.  I commend who came up with this idea as Appelt generated some space and physical presence for the line and has been effective all series.  The chemistry was a bit off as you’d expect. Stuart will likely be back on that line in game 5.
  • Blazers put Stankoven with Pillar and Sopotyk, which appears to be a better fit as the line has puck retrieval, speed, skill, and relentless forechecking.  The only thing this line lacks is size and true “experience”
  • Lang has been rewarded for his upward trending play by playing with Zary and Loewen.  Martin has been more engaged on the forecheck and walls and has a point-per-game average in the series.
  • Franklin got the monkey off his back with his first goal (and point) and looked more like the Franklin we saw during the regular season.
  • Both teams were, surprisingly, on their best behavior of this series after the McDonald misconduct.
  • Connor Zary has three goals in two games this series, 1 PPG, 1 SHG, and 1 ES.

As Tyler Lowey puts it:

Team Leaders After Four Games

Category Blazers Royals
Points Loewen 2-3-5

Sopotyk 3-1-4

Lang 1-3-4

Zary 3-0-3 (2 GP)

Kambeitz 4-0-4

McDonald 3-0-3

Miller 3-0-3

4 others with 3 pts

Shots Zary – 16

Centazzo – 13

Loewen – 11

Schmiemann – 11

McDonald – 17

Kambeitz – 12

Sidaway – 11

Martynov & Walford – 10

+/- Lang +2

Zary, Pillar, Sillanpaa, Strange +1

Prowse +3

Murray, Fizer, Walford +2

PIMs Zazula – 9

Schmiemann – 6

Sopotyk – 6

McDonald – 14

Sidaway – 6

Kustra – 4

Faceoff % Appelt – 53.6%

Stankoven – 52.4%

Zary – 51.1%

Kambeitz – 56.7%

Doust – 52.9%

McDonald – 52.4%

Save % Ferguson – .901

Garand – .917

Outhouse – .917
GAA Ferguson – 2.94

Garand – 3.03

Outhouse – 2.94

Per: whl.ca/stats

Home Forums Royals’ McDonald suspended indefinitely; Game 5 goes Saturday

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