When the Kamloops Blazers think of point producers on their roster, Josh Connolly and Taran Kozun aren't high on the list most-likely candidates.
Connolly last season as a WHL rookie defenceman picked up a grand sum of one goal and five assists in 53 games and Kozun, a goaltender, was held without a point in 20 games guarding the Blazers' net.
So how do you explain the five-point night those two snipers shared in a 5-2 victory over the Prince George Cougars in their home-opener Friday at CN Centre?
Not only did Kozun collect two assists but he was brilliant in his crease, blocking 37 shots as the Cats poured everything but the kitchen sink at him.
Connolly, an 18-year-old who was born and raised in Prince George, had a hand in the first three goals his team scored, picking up a goal and an assist to send the majority of the crowd of 2,993 home disappointed.
Cole Ully and Tyson Ness each scored twice to lead the Blazers to their first win of the season.
The Blazers had the early jump and led 2-1 after one period. Klarc Wilson reacted to seeing teammate Zach Pochiro get flipped by a clean hip check from Blazers forward Aaron Macklin and drew an instigator penalty that backfired on the Cougars. Cole Ully, a Dallas Stars prospect, accepted a pass from the Connolly and found a piece of the net on Brett Zarowny's stick side, 2:13 into the game.
The Blazers doubled the lead at the 12-minute mark, a face-off win by Nick Chyzowski that came back to Connolly, who rifled a partially-screened shot into the cage. The Cats scratched back 16 seconds later a McNulty blast from the point that hit something in front of the net with Zach Pochiro providing the screen.
Ully notched his third goal of the season a minute into the second period to make it 3-1 on an innocent-looking play while the Cougars were killing their second penalty of the game. Connolly shovelled a weak shot from a sharp angle at Zarowny and Ully got a stride ahead of McNulty and deflected the puck up over the goalie's shoulder.
The Cougars certainly had their chances and a lot of them came on the power play. Despite seven manpower advantages the Cats couldn't crack the safe and, to boot, they got burned for a shorthanded goal, a high deflected shot under the crossbar from Ness after Alex Forsberg had given the puck away at the opposite blueline. Tyler Mrkonjic, with his first WHL goal, made it a 4-2 game but that's as close as it got and Ness iced it with an empty-netter.
The win allowed the Blazers (1-2-0-0) to pull even with the Cougars (1-3-0-0) in the West Division, with the Blazers holding a game in hand. The same teams meet again tonight (7 p.m.) at CN Centre.
LOOSE PUCKS: The Cougars were sporting blue and orange with white trim retro jerseys that copied the sweaters they wore 20 years ago when they made their debut in Prince George at the Coliseum. Those jersey will be auctioned off for charity to the highest online bidders... The Cougars announced they raised $43,130.43 at their second annual Alumni Hospital Charity golf tournament in August. The funds will be donated to the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation... Former Cougar captain Clayton Catellier dropped the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Catellier, a four-year Cougars who also played two seasons in Victoria before the franchise moved to Prince George in 1994. The 38-year-old is now a married father of two young boys, living in Stonewall, Man., where he works as an RCMP officer.